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Triple bill of tricky tests will be benchmark of Blackstones’ progress

Lee Clarke celebrates scoring for Blackstones against S&L Corby on Saturday.
Lee Clarke celebrates scoring for Blackstones against S&L Corby on Saturday.

Blackstones co-boss Lee Clarke believes a triple bill of tricky fixtures will be a good chance to gauge his side’s progress.

Stones have taken 10 points from the four league games that Clarke and joint boss Daniel French have been at the helm of the United Counties League Division One club.

That run has seen Stones plunder 18 goals in four league games, including three successive five-goal hauls.

However, the free-scoring Stones face a tough trip to table-topping Pinchbeck United tonight (Friday, 7.45pm) before a derby duel at Bourne Town on Boxing Day (1pm).

That is followed by a home clash next weekend when Harrowby United are the visitors to the ALH Recruitment Stadium.

Clarke said: “The next two or three games will be the benchmark of where we are at and the level where we want to be.

“I’m looking forward to all the games because there’s always a good atmosphere around the Christmas matches.

“Hopefully we’ll get a few more people there and the games should be a good advert for the league.”

Stones go into the clash against Pinchbeck – who play at Spalding’s Sir Halley Stewart ground – on the back of a 5-0 home win over basement side S&L Corby on Saturday.

Clarke cracked a brace to take his tally to six goals in four games with Jack Bates, Josh Edmondson and Ben Easson - who stepped into the shooting boots of the unavailable Jones De Sousa - also on target.

However, despite the convincing margin of victory, Clarke felt the final outcome was harsh on the visiting Foundrymen who this week parted company with manager Ian Benjamin.

Clarke commented: “It’s a weird one. You’re never going to turn down a 5-0 win and a clean sheet, but it wasn’t really a 5-0 performance.

“The scoreline flattered us. We looked like scoring quite often, but they had a couple of opportunities, had a penalty saved and were dangerous on the break.

“Our quality of play wasn’t anyway near what it has been for the past three or four games.

“They let us have a lot of the ball, but our decision-making wasn’t there and we were a bit sloppy.

“It was our first clean sheet though and I was pleased for Aaron (Bellairs) and the back four. They are taking on board what we’re saying and trying to implement and that will be a confidence boost before a run of tough games.

“We’re now going from, on paper, having the easiest game to the hardest one away from home against a side at the top of the table.

“We will need a different mindset to make sure our performance levels are right. We still haven’t got a full squad for legitimate reasons so we’re just taking each game as it comes.”


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