By Hugo Varley,
ROD STRINGER has got his Chelmsford City side firing on all cylinders again – now he has his sights set on catching the National League South’s runaway leaders.
Four wins from five over the festive period hoisted the Clarets to fourth place and while a significant gap continues to exist between themselves and the top two of Torquay United and Woking, Stringer believes it is in no way insurmountable.
“Torquay and Woking have been absolutely superb this season and deserve to be sitting at the top, but no title is ever won in January,”?Stringer told The NLP.
“Although it is great to be in the play-off positions at the moment, I am a little disappointed because I feel as though we should probably be about ten points better off than where we currently are.
“We have made a few poor mistakes and just not had the rub of the green on occasions.
“For example, we played East Thurrock a couple of weeks ago and absolutely dominated possession, but didn’t take our chances and were ultimately punished.”
Despite falling to defeat at Slough last weekend Chelmsford are still one of the division’s form teams after suffering a disappointing start to the campaign, which saw them win just three of their opening nine league games.
“We struggled perhaps more than I expected at the beginning of the season,”?the Clarets boss added.
“We picked up a lot of injuries in pre-season and probably tried to change around the system a few too many times.
“It was frustrating because we were really struggling to pick up points at home and were failing to make our ground into a fortress. Thankfully we seem to have finally rectified whatever was going wrong a few months ago and we dealt with a tricky Christmas schedule really well.
“Our league position now gives us a great opportunity to kick on in the second half of the season, but you simply can’t rest on your laurels.
“You can look right down the league and the quality is absolutely phenomenal. We played Hampton & Richmond recently who are struggling at the wrong end of the table, but they certainly have the tools to challenge higher up.”
Since taking over at the Melbourne Stadium in the summer of 2016, former Braintree boss Stringer has guided the Clarets to within touching distance of promotion to the National League in both of his seasons in charge.
Two years ago, the Essex side were just 20 minutes away from toasting a play-off final victory against Ebbsfleet, only to be pegged back, while Stringer’s men were narrowly edged out by Hampton & Richmond at the semi-final stage last season.
Nevertheless, the manager is refusing to be deterred and is hoping he can make it third time lucky this year.
“On both occasions, missing out on promotion has been pretty hard to take,” he added.
“In the game against Ebbsfleet we had one foot in the National League; we were a goal up and a man up, but just couldn’t quite hold on.
“Although we were all gutted by the result, in truth, the club wasn’t really ready for promotion.
“We would have obviously grabbed the opportunity with both hands, but the club would have had to have done a lot of adapting.
“We are now starting to regain some of the form that we showed in the past two seasons, which is really great to see.
“It’s not easy, but we have got to keep trying to pull the rabbit out of the hat and get results.
“The boys are now buying into what we are doing and we have tried to simplify the tactics somewhat from the beginning of the season.
“There is still a very long way to go and we are not going to give up chasing the leading pack until it is completely mathematically impossible.”