MARK Owen has re-iterated the importance of not taking any team in Division One of the West Midland (Regional) League lightly – despite going top for the first time this season.
After two successive draws to title rivals Allscott Heath in a 4-4 thriller and a 1-1 draw last weekend to bottom-half side Wyrley, the Saltmen went top after Tuesday night’s emphatic 5-2 victory at home to Wrens Nest.
It proved a significant moment in the season for Owen and co. having had to play catch-up with the rest of the division in recent weeks – a result of their exploits in the FA Vase in addition to numerous postponements over the autumn months.
So it was completely understandable when the Droitwich boss talked up the significance of the mid-week win after spending the majority of the season in a false position in the league table.
“It was important in terms of getting points after Allscott and Wyrley, two very disappointing games,” said Owen.
“In terms of everything, it was a big result and the improvements were there to see.
“I remember saying how it was important that we get in and amongst it and in the mix of teams fighting for promotion. We’re where we want to be.
“We’ve caught up with our games in hand and now we’re up there, it’s just about making sure we keep it up.”
Many would have been led to believe that a low-scoring affair was to ensue on Tuesday night after a scrappy opening at Walshes Meadow.
So it came as a great surprise when Haydn Morris’ strike added to braces from Jordan Cox and Connor Collins to complete a resounding win and continue Spa’s 100% record at home this term.
Droitwich grew into the game and had the lead on 13 minutes when Cox drove inside and fired low into the bottom corner of Todd Henderson’s net.
Further chances followed as the buoyant hosts searched for a two-goal cushion, though it was Wrens Nest who were next to celebrate after Arnold Chaponda beat Matt Oliver with a low strike.
The hosts crucially went back in front just before half time when James Lemon’s initial one-on-one attempt was saved, but only fell as far as Cox who side-footed home.
The second period brought chances in abundance for both sides, something which top-scorer Collins took full advantage of when lashing home from distance in the 58th minute before tapping home his second 15 minutes later for his 16th and 17th goals of the season.
Wrens Nest kept battling and pulled a goal back when Chaponda controlled and finished expertly for his second of the night.
But it was the Saltmen who had the last laugh, hitting the visitors on the counter to seal victory through Morris, who nudged the ball into the net with ease from Cox’s centre.
While a trip to second-bottom Sikh Hunters on Saturday (3pm) appears to be a straightforward task on paper, Owen expects anything but an easy win when proceedings get underway.
“As it was proved last week, if we’re off-colour then we’re in trouble as everyone wants to turn you over. It doesn’t matter who you play – in this league everyone is difficult,” he said.
“They’re a difficult team to play against and it’s a tough place to go, so we’re expecting a real test.”
Droitwich will have a full-strength squad available to them at Long Lane Park.