CHURCH Stretton have ‘put to bed’ their anger about being denied promotion and are fully focussed on not leaving it to chance this time around, says boss Scott Peever.

Stretton began their West Midlands Division Two campaign with a thumping 5-2 derby win at home to Ludlow on Saturday.

Peever’s men finished as runners-up to champions Gornal Colts last season but were denied promotion due to ground criteria, with third-placed FC Darlaston going up instead.

“I think we’ve put that to bed now,” said Peever. “I was pretty sure that once the league had made their decision they were never going to change their mind if we appealed.

“But we have put it behind us and our biggest regret about last season is that we thought we should have won the league. That was the most disappointing thing.

“We had a little wobble over Christmas and there wasn’t much margin for error because credit to Gornal, they won their final nine games in a row.

“If we could have won the title, then maybe it would have made the decision for the league more difficult not to promote us.”

Goals from James Hill and Dean Richards gave Stretton a 2-0 half-time lead over Ludlow, then, after the break, Owen Holdsworth netted a brace against his former club and Hill netted his second.

“It was a good performance, especially in the second half,” added Peever. “It’s always nice to start with a win and Ludlow had had a big win the week before so they were up for it.

“In the first half, there was not much in it but we scored two quickfire goals just before half-time which made it a long way back for them.”

West Midlands League bosses have changed the format of the 10-team league this season – every team will play the other three times, making it a 27-game campaign instead of an 18-game one.

But Peever says that does not lessen the need for a good start, adding: “It’s always important to start well, get that momentum and keep the interest high among the players.

“It starts to become a long, hard slog if you lose a couple, whereas if you’re winning everyone is happy and interested.

“It also makes the sort of absolutely fantastic run that Gornal had last season more difficult to achieve because it’s tough to sustain that sort of form over 27 games.”

Stretton visit league newcomers Coven Athletic this Saturday and Peever admitted: “They are a bit of an unknown quantity but this league is unpredictable at the best of times."