Ridgeons round-up: Hadleigh veterans told no place for them at present

SOUTHERN League winner Michael Steward was on the verge of sealing his exit from Hadleigh this week after manager Stuart Crawford said he could no longer find a place in his side for him.

Steward, who helped Bury Town to two promotions, from the Ridgeons League to the Ryman Premier, was due to join up with fellow Premier Division side Diss Town if full-back Tom Deller agrees to move the other way.

It comes after Crawford signed the experienced defensive midfielder in the summer as a key signing and made him captain following a long-term injury to defender Paul Donnelley.

But with an influx of players to Hadleigh to cover an early-season injury crisis, a new way of playing — pressing high up the pitch — has seen veterans Steward and Stuart Jopling left kicking their heels on the sidelines.

“We have had a change in philosophy in the way we play and Stewie is a defensive midfielder and there is just no room for that type of player,” said Crawford.

“I have had a chat with Jops and made him aware if things stay as they are it will be difficult for him to get regular football.”

An approach from First Division side Long Melford, desperate for a goalscorer, with poor finishing seeing them lose their fourth league game in a row at Fakenham Town on Saturday, has been turned down by the player himself, according to his current manager.

Hadleigh, who ran league-leaders Wroxham close in a 3-2 defeat on Saturday, face a trip to Cambridge United’s R Costings Abbey Stadium to face in-form feeder side Cambridge Regional College (five wins from six) on Saturday (3pm).

Defender Cawley returns from a call-back to parent club Bury in the week, while Liam Jennings (thigh) is doubtful and Donnelly (knee) definitely misses out.

l Long Melford host Debenham LC on Saturday (3pm) with Jason Maher desperate to stop the rot with his side now just nine points off the bottom, though 10 points separate the 11th-placed side from the top six.

“In the last two games against Team Bury and Fakenham we have been by far the better team,” he said. “Goals have not been as free-flowing as we would like and I think it is confidence — when you do not score for a few games you snatch at chances.

“We win as a team and lose as a team so nobody individually is to blame, we are just going through a bit of a rut.”

Gareth Thomas (shoulder) and Dan Cann (hamstring) are definitely ruled out of Saturday’s game, though their injuries are not as bad as first feared, with the latter still likely to be out until Christmas. Kurt Waterfield (groin) could make a recovery in time for Debenham’s visit though.

l Halstead Town manager Jimmy Holder is hoping his side can keep up pace with the top three in the First Division going into Saturday’s home game (3pm) with Godmanchester Rovers (eighth).

Holder, whose side are fifth, seven points off league-leaders Thetford after their 5-0 win at Ipswich Wanderers, said: “Three or four are going to breakaway at the top and we are trying to hang on to them as long as we can.

“I see no reason why we can’t do that.

“We have some tough games coming up and Godmanchester will be a tough game.”

Nico Farthing (four games) and Jack Sims (three games) begin their suspensions while Holder has signed Rhys Keating, a 20-year-old centre-back from Wivenhoe who made his debut on Saturday.