LONG Melford manager Robbie Benson is hoping his side can carry their impressive cup form into the league on Saturday.
The Villagers are yet to register their first win after five Thurlow Nunn First Division games, but have enjoyed back-to-back cup wins in the FA Vase against higher-league opponents.
And ahead of in-form Swaffham Town’s visit (3pm), Benson is hopeful extra training, one of the catalysts behind their upturn in form, can pay off in the league.
“We have changed the system a little bit, tightened up and become more compact,” he said after a late comeback saw them knock out Woodbridge Town 3-2 on Saturday. “We are still struggling with our fitness levels as pre-season was so short because of the (managerial) appointment coming so late.
“I have decided to get the boys in twice a week and they have responded to that and we will do it for the next few weeks.”
The most pleasing aspect of Saturday’s performance was the emergence in senior football of the club’s under-18s talent in centre-forward Will Wingfield and central midfielder Jack Hubbard.
With a host of first-team players missing, Wingfield’s 26-minute cameo saw him announce his arrival with two vital goals.
And Benson said he will not hesitate to use them again, with no funds having been made available to bring in new players this season.
“We had two good youngsters on the bench and wanted to bed them into men’s football and both of them were terrific,” he said. “It is a big bonus for the football club as we are relying on local talent.
“I had gone and watched them on the Wednesday night and I felt if we were short they were of a good enough standard.”
The club is running two separate under-18s sides this season, one in the Colchester and Sunday League, and one in the Wednesday evening Eastern Junior Alliance.
Benson added of Wingfield and Hubbard: “We have an under-18s game Wednesday night (last night) and they will both be involved but they are definitely players we have ear-marked to be with us in and around the first team all season and there is no reason why they would not be included Saturday.”
Melford’s reward for progressing through to the first round proper of the FA Vase, other than the £700 prize money, is a home tie with Brantham Athletic on October 13.
Defender Ashley Skeggs is back available, following the cricket season, for what will incredibly be Melford’s sixth straight home league game.
Of their opponents, who have won four of their six league games, Benson said: “They are a strong outfit who have started the season very well.
“They won their Vase game Saturday and they will be coming down in a confident mood, as we will.”
n Football round-up: pages 60-61