The last seven days saw Long Melford play a further two games, and with thanks to the input of Andy Cussans, the club’s website editor for the reports, here’s how they got on:
Debenham LC 4 Long Melfrod 2
It was Melford who went ahead after 16 minutes, Sam Bayliss crossed and ASHLEY SKEGGS headed wide of Sam Chilvers in the home goal. Within three minutes the home team levelled. Given plenty of time and space Jerome Haynes crossed into the box and the diminutive JACK SECCOMBE out jumped the Melford defence to head home.
Nothing of any further significance emerged in the game until the 63rd minute when home captain ROB KEMP showed that it pays to shoot from even 25 yards, to put the home team ahead. The over fussy official impacted on the game after 66 minutes when Debenham were reduced to ten men when former Melford player Jamie Gregory was sent off for his second yellow card offence.
Again four minutes later Melford paid the price for ball watching and avoiding challenge, allowing JACK SECCOMBE to pick his spot for his second goal of the evening. On the final stroke of normal time Melford got a goal back a Joe Harvey corner was headed home in fine fashion by CHRIS McMAHON. Just time for the evergreen ROB KEMP in the last minute to charge on the Melford goal from the halfway line, unimpeded and rifle home from the edge of the box.
MELFORD: Sam Mansfield, Sam Bayliss (78), Chris Toole (78), Deklyn Roy, Pete Whitwell (60), Chris McMahon, Luke Simpson, Joe Harvey, Ashley Skeggs, Tom Wingfield, Will Wingfield Subs: Harry Fryer (60), Richie Abbott (78), Sam Newton (78) not used: Alessandro Zarrelli
Long Melford 2 March Town United 1
The Villagers monopolised the entire first half and could have been five goals to the good at half time with some steadier finishing. The Fenland visitors failed to hardly trouble Melford keeper Sam Mansfield, for most of the period.
Opening strongly Melford almost went ahead in the opening minutes, Ashley Skeggs played in Joe Harvey, but keeper Max Flintoff managed to smother his shot.
It was no surprise when Melford went ahead after 16 minutes, in attempting to clear Marc Hipwell lost his footing and in nipped Skeggs to run into the box, only to be scythed down by Lewis Cook, the referee pointing to the spot. The kick was despatched into net by WILL WINGFIELD to give Melford a deserved lead.
The visitors were nearly totally occupied trying to repel Melford, with only Paul Richardson registering a solitary shot on the Melford goal. The home team tried to press home their advantage with Alessandro Zarrelli firing a free kick against the crossbar and Harvey putting his header wide. An off the ball incident, involving an elbow in the face of Melford midfielder Pete Whitwell, saw Max Mattless lucky to be yellow carded.
Melford continued to press and good work between Harvey and Courtney Prince saw Melford force another corner. Eventually the ball came to Zarrelli who threaded a pass to Skeggs and his pulled back cross found JOE HARVEY (pictured) who stroked the ball into the net.
The home team found an unwelcome start to the second half with the wind in their faces and torrential rain lashing down. The introduction by the visitors of Toby Ogbonna seemed to add impetus to their game, and after 52 minutes they clawed a goal back. A poor defensive throw in saw the visitors gain possession, and TOBY OGBONNA run down the visiting right flank and his low driven cross cum shot found the Melford net.
This transformed March and they started to out play Melford all over the pitch, but despite some anxious moments the Melford defence marshalled well by Chris McMahon held firm, and as the rain abated Melford came back into the game.
Twice keeper Flintoff foiled Melford pushing efforts from Skeggs and Harvey over the bar. With the game running into some 7 minutes of added time, and niggling fouls increasing it was perhaps just that in the dying seconds keeper Mansfield made a great save from Sam Darlow, to keep all the points at Melford.
MELFORD: Sam Mansfield, Sam Bayliss, Ross Waugh, Pete Whitwell (85), Deklyn Roy, Chris McMahon, Courtney Prince, Alessandro Zarrelli, Ashley Skeggs, Joe Harvey, Will Wingfield (87) Subs: Tom Wingfield (85), Sam Newton (87) not used: Dan Gammage, Chris Toole, Richie Abbott
After five games, a number against table-topping opposition, Long Melford lie comfortably mid table. It’s particularly interesting to note that across the season so far, the club have played nine teenangers in the first team, including four at just sixteen years old, a further two eighteen year olds and a single nineteen year old. This level of football is vital in offering exposure to youngsters anxious to learn their trade before possibly progressing to the game at a higher level.
It’s a great compliment to Long Melford that they show the foresight to offer so many youngsters an opportunity. This is truly what the game at the grass roots is all about.