LONG Melford duo Jason Maher and Adrian Perry hope to lead the club to their first cup final in seven years when they travel to Thetford Town on Saturday (3pm).
The First Division Knockout Cup semi-final provides a quickfire chance to rack up their first piece of silverware since they were confirmed as permanent managers until the end of the season, following Geoff Cleal’s departure.
An announcement on their future at the club, after taking caretaker charge of first-team affairs, was made prior to Saturday’s 2-1 home victory over Swaffham Town, the Villagers’ first league win in nine games.
Now Maher, Cleal’s former assisant and Perry, the former reserve team manager, have a shot at landing the club’s first trophy since the 2003 Suffolk Senior Cup triumph over Stanton, which was followed up by a run to the 2004 final, where they eventually lost to Hadleigh United on penalties.
Chairman Alf Woodhouse said: “The last four to five season we have struggled to get anywhere in cup competitions, so it would be nice to get some silverware.”
Now Maher, who has been at the club for the past three years, is hoping Perry and his appointment can help lift Melford to cup glory and a strong finish in the league, with the pair targeting a top 10 finish in Ridgeons First Division (currently 11th).
He said: “I made it pretty clear to them when I took it on I did not want to just do it (the manager’s job) for a few weeks.
“It helps us with planning and gives the club a bit of stability so we can kick on with what we want to do.”
Of Saturday’s cup semi-final, he said: “It is a massive game for the club. It will be a brilliant opportunity to get to the final.
“It will not be an easy game, Thetford are in form and are favourites, however, this team’s best results have come away from home and we will go with no fear and I am hopeful we can get a result.”
After a first half of poor quality on Saturday, Melford took the lead after 74 minutes with Perry rounding Mayes to net.
With five minutes left on the clock Swaffham equalised, but the spirited Villagers sealed the points in front of their own fans with another Perry effort, again rounding the keeper.
Melford have been boosted the signing of striker Benny Mansfield, who makes the move up from scoring for Sporting 87 in the Suffolk and Ipswich League.