‘Same level of team spirit is needed to avoid relegation’

LONG MELFORD: Football - Long Melford v London Bari FA Cup
Jules Mumford
Picture Mark Westley ANL-150816-204824009
LONG MELFORD: Football - Long Melford v London Bari FA Cup Jules Mumford Picture Mark Westley ANL-150816-204824009

Long Melford manager Jules Mumford says his side must maintain the same level of team spirit to give them a chance of avoiding relegation.

The Villagers missed out on the chance to climb out of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division bottom three at the weekend, surrendering a 1-0 lead as they were narrowly-beaten 2-1 away at Ipswich Wanderers.

Melford remain 19th in the table, with just goal difference keeping them below Hadleigh United, prior to hosting sixth-placed Kirkley and Pakefield on Saturday (3pm).

The Royals visit Stoneylands this weekend in fine form, having tasted defeat only once in their previous 14 matches in all competitions.

The last meeting between the two sides at Stoneylands, on January 23 last year, saw The Villagers run out 1-0 winners and climb above Kirkley into fifth place in the table.

It is a much different scenario Melford find themselves in when the two Suffolk sides meet at the weekend, but Mumford believes keeping a strong team spirit can go a long way to helping his team avoid the drop.

“There’s a lot of spirit about us,” the Melford boss said.“There’s a lot of fight and desire and we need to keep that same level of spirit within the team.

“We need to keep it the same, not anything less than that, to give us a chance of staying in this league.”

Melford boosted their squad before last week’s trip to Wanderers with the signing of defender Ryan Dewey from Saffron Walden Town.

The full-back could be in line to make his home debut for Melford this weekend, while defender Ross Waugh is available again after serving his suspension for the red card he received in the defeat at Hadleigh on December 27.

Nathan Rowe and Hassan Ally both missed the Wanderers game but Mumford hopes both will be available for Saturday’s clash with Kirkley.

“It’s another tough game for us on Saturday,” Mumford said. “We need to start picking up points.

“They’re a good side but we’ll give it a go. Against Wanderers they scored two quick goals which cost us.

“It was a tight game and I can’t fault the boys. They put in a great effort and we’ll need that same effort for the remaining games of the season.”

While the vast majority of Melford’s rivals at the bottom end of the table have played less games, Mumford’s side will be buoyed by playing eight of their final 13 encounters of the season at home.

Five of those eight home fixtures could potentially be pivotal for the Villagers, with Walsham-le-Willows (15th), Ely City (17th), Hadleigh (18th), FC Clacton (20th) and Swaffham Town (21st) all set due to visit.