LONG Melford are facing a battle to keep Dan Cann, joint leading scorer last season despite missing much of it through injury.
Cann has trained and played with Thurlow Nunn League First Division rivals Saffron Walden, but Melford boss Robbie Benson is hoping to persuade him to stay at Stoneylands. Goalkeeper Paul Wood has already made the move to Saffron Walden.
Melford kick off their season with two home games, against Great Yarmouth Town on Saturday, and Whitton United on Wednesday.
With Jules Mumford joining Benson and Jim Walker in the management team, Melford are sticking firmly to their policy of staying local, both on and off the field, for the coming season.
“We have signed a number of local players, including goalkeeper Sam Mansfield who was at Brightlingsea Regent last season, and Richard Partridge from Walsham-le-Willows, and I hope to tie up a couple more by the end of the week,” said Benson.
Things have picked up at Melford as pre-season has progressed. “The boys have started to play with a bit of shape, and we are a lot better than I expected to be at this stage,” said Benson, who has been in charge for just a month.
“It will be a tough task on Saturday, with Yarmouth relegated last season. But we are raring to go,” said Benson.
n CORNARD United have no game on Saturday, with the First Division scheduling just five fixtures, but manager Chris Symes is not complaining as he is still in the process of finalising his squad. Cornard play a friendly against Boxford Rovers tomorrow night.
Tomorrow morning Derby County will be training at Blackhouse Lane, in advance of the Championship club playing a pre-season friendly at Colchester United, so Symes has moved the Boxford match to 24 hours later than originally planned.
Symes is still talking to players, and had enough to field two teams in the pre-season games against AFC Sudbury and Hadleigh United, but smaller numbers for the fixtures against Clacton and Glemsford and Cavendish.
Negotiations to sell Cornard United are currently stalled. Symes is still in talks with Cornard Parish Council over a new, longer lease for Blackhouse Lane, and until that is resolved potential purchasers are hanging fire.