STUDLEY’S next four league matches will prove whether they possess the quality and the squad to challenge the very best in Midland League Division One, according to John Edwards.
Joint-bosses Edwards and Wayne Bunn believe the Bees’ fortunes are firmly on the up and the growing strength in depth was highlighted by their comeback in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Hinckley AFC sparked by substitutes Sean Cooke and Reece Taylor-Randle.
It extended their unbeaten league run to seven matches but the next four matches pit ninth-placed Studley against four of the top six, starting with a home clash with leaders Lichfield City on Saturday.
Then on Wednesday, the Bees head to sixth-placed Atherstone Town before visiting third-placed Heather St John’s next Saturday and then meeting Racing Club Warwick, who currently lie second, on October 27.
But Edwards says his players will relish the challenge.
“We certainly won’t fear anyone,” said Edwards. “We’ve been getting stronger and stronger and I’m really pleased with the ways things have been going.
“We’ve got a big few weeks ahead of us against the teams that I think will be title contenders but we will look forward to it. We believe we’re more than good enough to challenge for the top six.
“I’m excited about the next few games. Lichfield have been flying but we’re eight points behind them with two games in hand.”
Edwards praised the contribution of new recruits Cooke and Taylor-Randle as they helped spark a turnaround at Hinckley last weekend after the Knitters had led 2-0. Joe Adams got the Bees back into the contest and then Taylor-Randle levelled.
Wide midfielder Cooke has joined from Littleton, having impressed against the Bees in their recent league and league cup contests, while young striker Taylor-Randle has linked up from Kidderminster Harriers.
“The subs made a difference and you need that strength in depth on the bench,” said Edwards.
“We fell behind to a deflected effort and a defensive mistake gave them a second goal when we were on top but we battled back and the draw was the least we deserved.”
Striker Jamie Clarke and midfielder Jake Donnelly (groin) both missed last weekend’s match but should be in contention against Lichfield, who have won nine of their 11 games.
Shay Palmer, however, is set to be sidelined until early December with a broken foot and Matt Edwards is struggling with a few niggles.