No timeframe on Griffiths’ return ahead of first game

FOOTBALL - Stowmarket (S) v Long Melford (L)

Pictured: Jamie Griffiths (L) who's free kick resulted in a goal ANL-141221-191553009

FOOTBALL - Stowmarket (S) v Long Melford (L) Pictured: Jamie Griffiths (L) who's free kick resulted in a goal ANL-141221-191553009

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Long Melford are waiting on the results of an MRI scan to find out how much of their 2016/17 campaign star forward Jamie Griffiths will miss.

The Villagers were dealt a blow to their preparations for the new season when Griffiths was stretchered off during their pre-season friendly against Brightlingsea Regent three weeks ago.

Since arriving at Stoneylands in the summer of 2014, Griffiths has scored 56 goals in 77 appearances and has been the club’s top goalscorer for the last two seasons.

Melford kick-off their season with three games in the space of six days, starting with a trip to Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division side St Margaretsbury in the Emriates FA Cup extra preliminary round on Sunday (3pm).

Jules Mumford’s men then begin their second campaign in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division with a home clash against Stanway Rovers on Tuesday (7.45pm), before visiting Premier Division new boys Wivenhoe Town on Friday (12th, 7.45pm).

The Villagers will be without their leading marksman for the start of the season, but new coach Jamie Bradbury is hopeful it will not be too long before Griffiths is back among the goals.

“Jamie’s attitude has been absolutely tremendous,” Bradbury said. “He’s had offers from other clubs but he wants to be a part of what we want to achieve at Melford.

“The injury is a massive blow for him and he’s dealing with it in his own way.

“He wants to help out and he’s been helping Jules behind the scenes, but I’m hopeful it won’t be too long before he’s back fit and banging the goals in again.”

After being promoted as champions of the First Division in 2014/15, the Villagers enjoyed an impressive first season in the Thurlow Nunn League’s top flight last term.

At the start of March, Mumford’s side were flying high in fifth place, before four defeats from their last four games saw them end the season in a highly respectable ninth position.

Bradbury admits that Melford have not set a target of where they want to finish this season, but an improvement on ninth place would be seen as a success.

“We haven’t really talked about targets,” he said. “If we can finish a little bit higher up the table and have some success in the cups, maybe a decent run in the FA Vase or the FA Cup, then we’ll be pleased.

“We just want to go out and have fun and compete in games every week.

“I know it sounds obvious but it can take us up to eighth, seventh or even higher.”

History will be against Melford when they make the trip to Hertfordshire on Sunday.

The Villagers have only won one of their eight previous FA Cup ties away from home, which came back in 2004 when they beat higher league Marlow 2-1 in the first qualifying round.

Last season’s run in the FA Cup saw Mumford’s men beat London Bari 3-0 at Stoneylands before they lost 1-0 at Basildon United in the preliminary round.

Long-serving goalkeeper Sam Mansfield (Hadleigh United) and Josh Dalziel (Stanway Rovers) both departed Melford this summer, while they have been boosted by the signings of Fred Howe, Josh Collins and David Lorimer.

n Hadleigh United are also in FA Cup action this weekend as they prepare for a trip to Barkingside in the extra preliminary round on Sunday (3pm).

Stuart Alston’s first competitive game in charge of the Brettsiders ended in a 2-0 defeat away at Fakenham Town on Saturday. Hadleigh are on the road again next week when they visit Ipswich Wanderers in the Premier Division on Wednesday night (7.45pm).