RIDGEONS ROUND-UP: Long Melford strengthen their squad

LONG Melford have bolstered their ranks with three Haverhill Rovers players, one of whom lays claim to scoring against Manchester United.

The trio of Ridgeons League Premier Division experienced players now at Stoneylands includes 17-year-old midfielder Ryan Swallow, who scored against the Premier League champions in an under-14s tournament while with Cambridge United.

Experienced centre-back Gareth Thomas and veteran targetman Martin Westcott have also signed up to Jason Maher’s squad ahead of the Ridgeons League season, kicking off on August 13.

A delighted Maher said: “Gareth has played in the Premier Division for Haverhill and has Ryman League experience with Hornchurch and Maldon and will bring a winning attitude.

“And to get the young lad Swallow to our club is a massive coup, he was highly though of at Haverhill and Cambridge United and played against Manchester United and scored against them.

“Westy can hold up the ball and link up with play and is very strong.”

But the Melford manager maintains his best bit of business over the summer has been convincing talisman defender Errol Durrell to stay with the club, turning down an approach from AFC Sudbury.

“We cannot replace Errol Durrell and I think he is the best defender in the league,” said Maher.

The Villagers, who lost 1-0 to Gorleston on Monday, travel to Premier Division side Woodbridge Town on Saturday (3pm).

Hadleigh United have given centre-back Paul Donnelly the skipper’s armband to succeed departed Duane Wright.

Manager Stuart Crawford, who is still keen to add another striker to his squad with Josh Mayhew continuing his trial at Ryman League Needham, said of Donnelly: “He is committed to the club for the next two years and is a good talker and last season played consistently well and he is a respected figure in the dressing room.”

Hadleigh will entertain Ryman League Division One North side Leiston in the annual match for the Hadleigh Charity Cup next Tuesday (7.45pm).

Cornard United have their first pre-season friendly against Wivenhoe Town, from the Ridgeons Premier Division, at Colchester Garrison tonight (7.45pm) as they look to give their pitch more recovery time.

Chris Symes has withdrawn his application for a reserve team in the Ridgeons League, passed at their AGM, before a ball has been kicked, but has entered an under-18s side in their age group league drawn from a Colchester-based Tempest’s existing side. A link-up between Wormingford and the club’s first team has broken down, which follows the failed Braintree Town link-up thwarted after a mystery takeover of the club, which is still in the process of going through solicitors.

Halstead Town manager Jimmy Holder believes his side is making good progress ahead of the campaign.

Vital experience is set to come into the line-up in former Chichester City centre-back Chris Swan (having played at Ridgeons Premier equivalent last) and midfielder and assistant manager Andrew Joslin (returning from a long-term knee injury).

The Rosemary Lane outfit face AFC Sudbury at home tomorrow (7.45pm) with a decent crowd expected for the return of former skipper Tom Devaux. Meanwhile Mark Hoskins has taken over the return team.

n The Suffolk Premier Cup draw has been made and will see Felixstowe & Walton Utd at home to AFC Sudbury and Leiston at home to Hadleigh United, with ties due to be played on October 11 and 12.