Melford boss faces titanic task ahead

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AFTER watching his new side played off the park by Blue Square Bet Premier outfit Braintree Town on Saturday, Robbie Benson conceded the task he has taken on is ‘like trying to raise the Titanic with a fishing rod’.

by Russell Claydon

at Stoneylands

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY

Long Melford 0

Braintree Town 10

AFTER watching his new side played off the park by Blue Square Bet Premier outfit Braintree Town on Saturday, Robbie Benson conceded the task he has taken on is ‘like trying to raise the Titanic with a fishing rod’.

The gulf in class between the sides, separated by five leagues on the football pyramid, could not have been greater at a rain-lashed Stoneylands.

And the flood of goals, five in each half, for ex-England international Alan Devonshire’s side mirrored the unseasonal conditions on a heavy pitch more reminiscent of November.

But Benson, who had only had five days since becoming Jason Maher’s successor at financially-troubled Melford to prepare for the glamour friendly, said it was still a worthwhile exercise.

“We looked to work on a little bit of defensive shape first half and there were some positives I can take from it, definitely,” he said. “We are not going to play that calibre of opposition every week – they were a different gravy, absolutely on a different level.

“It is going to be tough and these boys are going to have to learn some lessons pretty quick.”

With no playing budget to work with at the cash-strapped club, he added he is set to unveil five to six new signings, all local boys, and has approached two new goalkeepers.

Ex-Wigan Athletic glovesman Floyd Croll, who once scored against Manchester United’s Tim Howard from a kick out of his hands in a reserve game, was drafted in to play for Melford with the new management team having been unable to contact number one Paul Wood.

But Croll, who had been playing for Needham Market and Bury St Edmunds’ Sporting 87 last season, was picking the ball out of his net after just two minutes when giant striker Mikolat Misiuk’s weak header squirmed in off him.

Six minutes later the Iron were 2-0 ahead when one of two new signings from Norwich City making their Braintree debuts, 20-year-old Josh Dawkin, neatly finished after Melford got caught trying to play out from the back.

All the play was confined to one half and it was a matter of when and not if the third goal would come, with Lithuanian striker Misiuk adding his second after exquisitely chesting down O’Connor’s crossfield ball and firing home.

Two more followed before half-time with Dawkin getting his second after outjumping Justin Crissell for a header and the fifth from the penalty spot, courtesy of Iron skipper Kenny Davis after Jamie Gregory had pulled down Jason Walker.

Devonshire brought eight new faces, the majority trialists, on at the start of the second half with Melford only changing their goalkeeper, but the new custodian was beaten after just three minutes when Chase O’Neil converted Kane Shepherd’s square pass.

Dan Cann had Melford’s first shot on goal on 51 minutes from far out on the left wing, not troubling the almost redundant Braintree goalkeeper, but six minutes later, it was 7-0 when Shepherd himself sent a thunderous strike from 20 yards into the roof of the net for the goal of the game.

But Braintree, and Shepherd, were not done there, with his second coming from a header from a right-wing cross on 66 minutes, while new signing Callum McNish steered in a low cross on 78 minutes, and Jordan Cox, after robbing the goalkeeper outside his area before slotting in, completed the rout.

Melford (starting line-up): Croll, Collis, Simpson, Crissell, Gregory, Partridge, Barnes, Statham, Cann, Westcott.

Attendance: 164