By Brian Jeeves
CHELMSFORD City manager, Rod Stringer, was fully aware of the challenge his side face this weekend when they travel to Princes Park to take on old adversaries, Dartford.
Speaking ahead of what is a huge National League South contest, Stringer said: “It will be a tough game. We have played Dartford three times this season and it’s one win each and a draw so far. If you look at those statistics, you could possibly say that it’s going to be another tight game.
“People are saying that it’s a ‘must-win’ game, personally, I think it’s simply a game we must not lose. But we will go there full of confidence. We are still in decent form and on a good run, despite the Tranmere result. It felt a little bit like a defeat on Saturday against St Albans. We didn’t take our chances, which was disappointing, but we still picked up a point against a team that have been there or thereabouts throughout the season.”
Despite the frustration of dropped points against St Albans last time out, the Clarets chief was happy that his squad had responded positively during Monday evening’s Essex Senior Cup semi-final: “We got back to winning ways in the Essex Senior Cup here against Heybridge Swifts, which was pleasing, Stringer added. “It’s always nice to reach a cup final, it gives the whole club a lift and is a boost to the players ahead of a difficult game in the league this weekend.
“It’s always worth doing well in the County Cup competitions. We want to achieve at least one piece of silverware this season, plus it has given us the opportunity to give some of the players who haven’t been in the side, ninety minutes. Josh Hill got a full game, plus we rested who we needed to rest. Those who were given an opportunity certainly gave me something to think about.”
Looking ahead to Dartford, Stringer continued: “We’ve had a good training session ahead of the game. We go again at Princes Park and will try to eradicate the mistake that cost us against St Albans while trying to capitalise on the opportunities we create this week.
“There’s always one or two niggles this time of year. Last week we lost Kane Haysman and Max Cornhill to a virus, which was hugely frustrating. But we have pretty much a full squad this week. We know that it’s going to be tough.
Dartford is quite a volatile place. It’s very tight over there. They are strong, direct and have a little bit of flair down the sides which we will have to be aware of. We know that we will have to be at our best to pick up three points. But as I’ve said to the lads, if you perform well, get the intensity of the game high and don’t give the ball away too cheaply, you always give yourself a chance. That is what we will be drilling into the players for Saturday.”