2011/12 Season review: Hadleigh United

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HADLEIGH United can look back on a job well done despite an injury-hit season.

United finished 11th in the Ridgeons League Premier Division, and manager Stuart Crawford reckons his side can be proud of their efforts.

“When you look at how strongly we finished, and when you consider how many injuries we’ve had, it’s been a good season,” said Crawford.

Hadleigh won six of their last seven league games, drawing the other, to respond to a disappointing run of four straight defeats.

Crawford cites a 6-0 win away to Brantham Athletic as United’s best achievement of the season.

Brantham finished third and it was easily their campaign’s heaviest defeat.

“We went there with a lot of injuries, so to win 6-0 at their place was fantastic,” said the manager.

Ben Deacon scored four goals that day, as part of a league tally of 23 from 34 starts.

Crawford also gives a mention to his side’s 6-1 win at Woodbridge Town as another memorable feat.

United had a disappointing year in the cups, particularly the FA Vase where they lost at home to Stowmarket Town in the first qualifying round.

Stowmarket finished one off the foot of the table in the division below United, and that defeat rankles with Crawford as their biggest disappointment of the season.

“It came off the back of our big win against Woodbridge and we really should not have lost that game,” said the boss.

The manager’s player of the season and the players’ player awards both went to 23-year-old right back Chris McLaughlin.

Crawford praised his defender, and said: “He signed for us from Walsham 18 months ago and he really has been an unsung hero for us ever since.”

The supporters’ player of the season went to goalkeeper Dan Heath, who enjoyed an excellent debut season.

“He only joined us in October but he’s made an instant impact,” said Crawford.

The manager is looking forward to next season and is planning to strengthen his squad.

“Just improving is the main objective,” he added.

To that end, Crawford has re-signed Neil Calver from Ryman League Division One North champions Leiston.

The boss praised his signing and said: “He’s an experienced player, which is great because we’ve got quite a young squad.

“He’s also a strong, physical player which is something I think we need.”

Calver has been playing in central midfield in recent seasons, but Crawford says he intends to use the player in a more advanced role.

“We’ll be using him as a striker,” he said. “He played there when he was with us originally so he knows the role.”

Meanwhile, Crawford is also hopeful for the future.

“The squad is strong and everyone is committed,” he said. “We’re in the strongest position player-wise we’ve been in for two years.”