LES JONES warned Pershore Town’s demanding test against the league leaders has only got tougher.
Not only because the Plums head to Shifnal Town on Saturday without in-form hot-shot Jamie Clarke and with skipper Shaun Griffiths facing a fitness test on a neck injury, but because the Shropshire side will be smarting after their season-long unbeaten run was ended.
Boss Jones hopes to have a proven goalgetter on board to fill the gap left by the unavailable Clarke to face a Shifnal side who had won 15 matches out of 15 in the West Midlands League Premier Division until Saturday.
Then the long-time pacesetters lost 3-2 to Black Country Rangers before going down 2-0 at title rivals Bewdley Town on Tuesday.
“We will go there with confidence after back to back wins over the Christmas and new year period but we can expect a really tough game,” said Jones. “Shifnal had not dropped a point until last weekend and those couple of defeats will make our job even tougher. They will be fired up.
“We’ve got some injuries and players missing but hopefully we will have a couple of new signings on board for Saturday.”
Clarke has been in red-hot form, scoring twice in both wins against Littleton and then Shawbury United to take his tally to eight goals in six matches since he joined, but he will be away for the next two games at Shifnal and then next Saturday’s home clash with Worcester Raiders.
Jordan Hayward headed home the first goal in the 3-0 win against Littleton just before half-time at the Community Stadium. Clarke then cracked home an excellent strike for 2-0 before the striker added Town’s third 15 minutes from time after cutting in and firing past keep Jadyn Mundle.
Last weekend, fit-again Tom Harding opened the scoring after just four minutes in setting up a 4-1 win at Shawbury to leave the Plums eighth in the table.
Although Steve Nicholson levelled from a penalty, Pershore moved 3-1 ahead at half-time thanks to Clarke’s quickfire double. Sam Clark settled the points with a fourth three minutes after half-time.
“After losing at Dudley Town before Christmas, it’s been good to bounce back with successive wins,” said Jones. “We are within three points of the top four and as we’ve said all season the target is to be within touching distance of the promotion places going into the final few months of the season.
“There is a regret there, though, that we could easily have had a few more points. We’ve been ahead in games and then let points slip. We need to build on the last few games and put a run together.”
Pershore will be boosted by the returns of midfielder Harding, who had been sidelined for 12 weeks, plus Dane Aldington, who had been missing for eight weeks, and Luke Gaffney, who had been absent for three weeks.