GARY Martindale believes that managing raised expectations at Witton Albion is an indication of the team’s progress on the pitch.

He told the Guardian that a draw at second-placed Grantham Town last weekend was a disappointing result after the Gingerbreads equalised deep into injury time.

His side has also drawn with Shaw Lane and Ashton United, and beaten leaders Altrincham, in the past two months.

“Before going [to Grantham], you think a point is great,” said Albion’s assistant manager.

“However we dominated the game, controlled it, and created the best chances.

“We didn’t put them away though, and paid the price when they scored so late on.

“If we’d been more ruthless, then we’d have won.

“But it’s not a moment to criticise these players, in fact it’s the opposite.

“The lads have come a long way, and they’ve set high standards.

“We’ve reached a stage in our development where we’re expecting to do well against the top sides, and they deserve praise for that.”

Witton host Stourbridge on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

And they start that contest with a five-point advantage over the Glassboys, who sit 14th position in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight after a disappointing campaign to date.

Martindale will warn Albion’s players not to be fooled by that, particularly following the visitors’ improved showing in a 1-1 draw with Shaw Lane last time out.

He told the Guardian too that front man Luke Benbow, who was leading-scorer for Stourbridge last season, is one of the best strikers he’s seen at this level.

“Stourbridge are in a false position – that’s my personal opinion,” said Carl Macauley’s number two.

“They’ve got dangerous attacking players, and we’ve got to be wary of Benbow.

“His looks are deceiving; he needs half-a-yard, and he’ll hurt you. His instinct is to shoot at goal no matter where he is in the final third, and he often scores when he does.

“We’re expected a difficult assignment, but I’m sure they are too coming here.”

Albion returned from the War Memorial Athletic Ground with a share of the spoils following a goalless stalemate in November.

And the irony of it being another away game Witton dominated – Stourbridge goalkeeper Matt Gould was picked afterwards as the best player on the pitch – is not lost on Martindale.

He added: “We played well at their place, another game where we’d have taken a point as a great result before kick-off.

“Again we came home a bit frustrated we hadn’t won.

“But we didn’t beat ourselves up, we took heart from it. And that’s what we’ll continue to do.”