A third of the way through the National Two North campaign and while Stourbridge’s relentless pursuit of perfection faces its acid test in the coming weeks, so the trio of West Midlands rivals below them also find their seasons at crucial junctures.
If the first ten games have told us anything about Birmingham & Solihull, Dudley Kingswinford and Bromsgrove it is that over the coming months they seemed destined to share the same, congested living space, an area around mid-table and – they hope – not too close to the relegation trapdoor.
Although with four wins B&S have won twice as often as the Boars and once more than DK, it is the Heathbrook outfit who sit in tenth place, one higher than Bees and four above Bromsgrove. The neighbours are separated by just five points and there’s barely room to swing a Bee.
DK coach Jon Higgins has been buoyed by consecutive victories: “I am a lot more optimistic now than I was a few weeks ago,” Higgins said.
“I think we have turned a corner. We are playing teams in the lower half of the league but at least we now know the commitment levels required. I think there are three teams worse than us in the division.”
After seven successive losses Bromsgrove are currently sitting in the bottom three but unlike Stockport and Huddersfield below them, they have 15 points and appear to belong to the middle-ranking clubs.
Certainly joint coach Ross Baxter believes the corner is just about to be turned. “Our last six games have been against the top six. Our next five are against teams in the bottom half. The key for us is to keep the performances where they have been to date, but down the errors and show we are a better team than our league position suggests.”
And as Stourbridge are about to learn even with their ten bonus point wins on the bounce, it matters who you play as much as how. Neil Mitchell’s leaders face the rest of the top four this month.