Grainger has a surprise up his sleeve for old club’s visit

FRIENDS REUNITED: Paul Grainger will come face-to-face with his old club when Cornard United play host to Long Melford on Saturday (3pm)

FRIENDS REUNITED: Paul Grainger will come face-to-face with his old club when Cornard United play host to Long Melford on Saturday (3pm)

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Former Long Melford boss Paul Grainger admits he is desperate to see his old side go up, but will certainly not do them any favours on Saturday.

Great Cornard and Melford are separated by just five miles geographically, but are poles apart in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division table.

However, both managers admit that their respective form come Saturday’s showdown at Cornard’s Blackhouse Lane (3pm) will count for little with the added incentive of local bragging rights at stake.

And Grainger has pulled out all the stops to have a top non-League striker in his ranks to boost his basement side’s chances — having only scored two goals in their last three games, which all ended in defeats.

“I would say he is a very big name, but I am trying to keep it under wraps for as long as I can,” he said. “Obviously, we are massive underdogs for the game as they are doing so well.

“I still have a lot of friends at the club I would consider Jules (Mumford, Melford manager) a good mate.

“I would love to see them achieve promotion, but I am also hoping to put a dent in it this weekend.”

Mumford, whose side drew 1-1 at Great Yarmouth Town on Saturday to maintain their six-point and two-place gap to the Bloaters, just outside the promotion places in fourth, is not about to underestimate the challenge ahead on Saturday.

He said: “I have never, ever had an easy game against Cornard.”

“In the home game we beat them 3-1, but in the first half they battered us, albeit we were playing into the wind.”

“Last year we beat them at home 2-1, but that was only through an error.

“People think on paper we have an easy run-in, but that is not the case.

“We also have another local derby, with Sudbury, in a few weeks as well.”

Full-back Sam Bayliss (thigh) hoped to be in line for a return, but saw his comeback in the reserves halted by another injury.

“He is struggling and I feel sorry for the poor lad as he has been absolutely fantastic this year,” said Mumford, who will also be without Dan Smith (ankle) and Ashley Sloots (illness).

Grainger is hoping the viral infection which hit his squad ahead of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at AFC Sudbury Reserves, with some having to play through it, eases up in time.

Right winger Billy Skinner made a return to the club on Saturday, with Grainger pleased with his display.

n Hadleigh United, who have signed former Needham Market winger Danny Thrower, are on in action until Tuesday, when they travel to Stanway Rovers (7.45pm), who are 
currently a place above them in third in the Premier Division.