Stowmarket Town manager Paul Musgrove not setting any targets for his league leaders
Paul Musgrove felt his Stowmarket Town side were well worthy of the point they picked up during Monday’s 1-1 draw at neighbouring Bury Town.
Both sides found clear cut openings hard to come by during a battling first half at the Denny Bros Stadium, where the pitch made it hard to get any free flowing football going.
However, the game moved through the gears a little bit in the second half and it was advantage Stowmarket just after the hour mark when Joe Jefford headed in.
But there was some late pressure from Bury and while the Old Gold & Blacks goalkeeper James Bradbrook kept out Cemal Ramadan from the penalty spot, he was eventually beaten by Max Maughn.
Reflecting on the encounter, Musgrove said: “On the balance of play I thought the first half was very even.
“There was not a lot of chances created and both teams were sussing out the conditions and each other.
“We’ve come out second half and I thought we started really well – more aggressive and we won more seconds (balls), which I asked them to do.
“Then we got our noses in front and to be honest, we’ve conceded from a set piece and that’s disappointing because we’ve been good at that this season.
“Bradders (Bradbrook) has had to keep us in it with another penalty save as well, but overall we deserved something from the game.”
The result – coupled with Canvey Island’s 5-1 trouncing of Tilbury – has seen Stowmarket’s lead at the top of the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division cut to one point.
And it is second-placed Canvey that now hold control thanks to their one game in hand on Musgrove’s men.
Tomorrow marks the start of a hectic 48 hours with Coggeshall Town (12th) visiting Greens Meadow before Stowmarket travel to fourth-placed Dereham Town on Monday (both 3pm).
Back-to-back wins would guarantee that the Suffolk side continues to lead the way as 2022 gets under way, but Musgrove is wary of setting any targets.
“I try not to put too much pressure on with setting targets and now we’re sitting where we are, it seems to be working,” he added.
“At the moment it’s about getting the balance right and managing the schedule.
“To start looking at things too closely and start setting targets, that stops you playing with freedom.
“We just want to keep enjoying ourselves and see where that takes us – including over this busy period.”
More than 1,300 people took in the game at Bury, with a large number making the journey down the A14 to cheer on the visiting team.
Musgrove has been delighted with the support his players have received all season – and he is keen for that to continue going into the second half of the campign.
“I want to thank our fans, they’ve come out in their droves again,” he said of the supporters.
“They’ve been outstanding for us all season but to come out so soon after Christmas in those numbers is fantastic.
“Hopefully Bury have made a few quid out of it as well – that’s what non-league football is about, especially in these tough times.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s quickfire fixtures, Musgrove confirmed that long-term absentees Craig Parker, Jack Ainsley and Dom Docherty are all still a few weeks away from making a comeback.
“They are injuries that we can’t rush. We’re hoping a few weeks with them is the best case scenario,” he said.
“We’ll look at it and see who is a little bit fresher because it’s a busy time. At the same time, if a player is in the shirt it is theirs to lose.”