If you caught my introduction piece on Long Melford FC, you’ll be aware that, in an effort to promote grassroots football, I’m reporting on the ups and downs of their season. With the help of their website editor, Andy Cussans, I’ll be relaying how they progress, and hopefully passing on a little of the flavour of our national game at the grassroots. Here’s the first batch of news cowering Melford’s first three games of the season.
Long Melford 0 Swaffham Town 3
The opening week of the season saw Long Melford play three games, the first being a particularly tough assignment at home. Swaffham Town FC are a strong outfit at this level and could field three players that between them scored over fifty goals last term. At this level, clubs are not likely to lose players to international cal-ups, but demands on players’ time can be even more difficult to fit into a regular tam pattern. For this game, due to holidays, cricket commitments and a couple of injuries, Long Melford were without eight regular first team players, and were forced to pitch a number of teenagers into the squad to make up the numbers. Whilst this meant an ebullient atmosphere, and an encouraging start to the game, with Long Melford coming closest to scoring in the first fifteen minutes, as the game wore on, Swaffham gradually took control, and netted twice before the break. Any hopes of a comeback were quickly extinguished after the restart when Swaffham again scored almost from the kick off. Whilst Long Melford battled gamely on from the contest was in effect over, and Swaffham ran out comfortable winners.
MELFORD: Sam Mansfield, Sam Bayliss, Dan Gammage, Deklyn Roy (75), Pete Whitwell (58), Chris Toole, Courtney Prince, Alessandro Zarrelli (58), Sam Turner, Tom Wingfield, Sam Newton Subs: Jack Durey (75), Harry Fryer (58), Will Wingfield (58) not used Richie Abbott, Addy Roy
Long Melford 2 Halstead 4
Wednesday saw Long Melford again at Stoneyfields for a second successive home fixture. This time, the opponents were local rivals Halstead. It would be the first of six ‘derby’ games that would occur in the season. Following on from the defeat to Swaffham, it was important for Long Melford to get an good start. The Stoneylands pitch was in particularly good condition thanks to the excellent work of Ivan Whitehart, Melford’s groundsman, and the surface lent itself to some attractive football in front of nearly 100 spectators. In an attractive opening period, both sides went close to opening the scoring, and it was no surprise when Ashley Skeggs cut the ball back across the box for JOE HARVEY to score on his debut for Melford with just ten minutes on the clock. Things got even better for the home team after 20 minutes when two of their 16 year old players combined for the second goal. Harry Fryer, came forward from his defensive position to launch a long throw into Halstead box. After a scramble, the ball dropped to TOM WINGFIELD (pictured) who with calm assurance dispatched the ball into the back of the net. The remainder of the first half saw Melford continue to press, but without adding to their tally.
The second half saw Melford continuing their pressure with a spell of four successive corner, but the decisive goal eluded them. The game then turned with an unfortunate handball offence in Melford’s box, and a duly converted penalty to halve the home team’s lead on the hour mark. The old saying that ‘goals change games’ was never more true as Halstead now pushed forward with the momentum in their favour, and were rewarded with an equalizer five minutes later. Although Melford were still creating chances, in an now very even game, it was Halstead that took the lead for the first time with fifteen minutes to go. With Melford now committed to drive forward in search of an equalizer, they were caught on the break in the last few minutes and Halstead delivered the coup de grace with a fourth. It was a harsh lesson to Melford, but with their third game coming up on Saturday, it was one they needed to take heed of.
MELFORD: Sam Mansfield, Luke Simpson, Chris Toole, Dan Gammage, Harry Fryer, Chaise Guyon, Courtney Prince, Joe Harvey, Ashley Skeggs, Will Wingfield, Tom Wingfield Subs used: Sam Turner, Sam Bayliss Subs not used: Deklyn Roy, Pete Whitwell, Alessandro Zarrelli
Stowmarket Town 1 Long Melford 2
Long Melford’s third game in a week saw them visit Stowmarket Town. The surface was very much inferior to the Stoneylands pitch, and this resulted in a scrappy game with lost possession a constant theme. After 33 minutes, Melford conceded their second penalty in as many days, and were duly punished as the spot kick was drilled home to give Stowmarket the lead. Just before the break however, Melford equalised when WILL WINGFIELD received the ball on the edge of the box, turned adroitly. His shot gave the home ‘keeper little chance and Melford were level going into the break. After the break, Melford switched formation, and the change had the desired effect with the team appearing stronger across the park. Despite this, they survived an early scare a Stowmarket shot went narrowly wide. After 66 minutes however Melford got their break as the home goalkeeper’s clearance from a superb through ball was charged down by WILL WINGFIELD, who then coolly slotted home for a brace. The last period of the game saw a number of chances at both ends, but Melford saw time out to take their first three points of the season.
MELFORD: Sam Mansfield, Sam Bayliss, Dan Gammage, Chaise Guyon, Chris McMahon, Deklyn Roy, Courtney Prince, Peter Whitwell (78), Sam Turner (63), Tom Wingfield, Will Wingfield Subs: Richie Abbott (63), Alessandro Zarrelli (78) not used: Chris Toole, Sam Newton
Following last week’s fixtures, here’s how the table stands. Look out for more news from Long Melford FC over the coming days.
|Braintree Town Res||2||2||0||0||4||0||+4||6|
|Saffron Walden Town||2||1||1||0||4||3||+1||4|
|March Town United||3||1||0||2||6||3||+3||3|
|AFC Sudbury Res||2||1||0||1||3||3||+0||3|
|Needham Market Res||3||1||0||2||3||6||-3||3|
|Dereham Town Res||3||0||2||1||4||6||-2||2|
|Great Yarmouth Town||2||0||1||1||2||3||-1||1|