Christian Appleford believes struggling Hadleigh United are about to reverse their fortuntes ahead of facing in-form Long Melford
Hadleigh United travel to in-form Long Melford on Saturday (3pm) with Christian Appleford confident they are on the cusp of turning a corner with their results.
The Brettsiders’ manager went into his first full campaign at the helm believing they would be nowhere near the relegation dogfight they had found themselves in the thick of in recent seasons.
But 11 games into the 2019/20 term they are precariously perched just a point and two places off the foot of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table.
Saturday’s last-gasp 3-2 home defeat to a Thetford Town side who had the unwanted tag of the lowest placed in the standings at the start of the month was their ninth loss in their 11 matches. They have only won twice.
“It is probably a few factors really,” said Appleford in trying to explain their poor start.
“It completely devastated the team with me not being there for the first five games and the FA Cup, which could not be helped as it (holiday) was pre-planned before taking the job.
“Coming back in was difficult, especially with the first game being Stowmarket, but it is one of those things and it is now up to us to turn it around.
“Our first 11 games have been tough; we have played Stanway, Stowmarket and FC Clacton all twice and I would expect two of those to be in the top three. We have also had Newmarket and Mildenhall away.”
Despite Melford’s winning run of five matches making them one of the divisions’ most in-form sides, following their 1-0 victory at Gorleston on Saturday, he sees their next run of games as their chance to begin accumulating the points to move them clear of the bottom pack.
Appleford said: “We now have a better run of fixtures where we are not playing one of the favourites, so it is about time now we stepped up and started to produce.
“Saturday was more frustrating as in previous games we had deserved to lose but on Saturday any neutrals watching would have said we should have won the game as we had far more chances.”
After a goalless first half, Hadleigh opened the scoring on 47 minutes when new winger Gavin Vanoene, signed from SIL side Achilles, found Kyron Andrews with a cross to volley home at the far post.
The lead only lasted six minutes though as Jonny Conroy scored with a shot on the turn after Charlie Howlett was dispossessed.
Hadleigh restored their the lead on 61 minutes when Vanoene’s low shot went in via a deflection.
Three minutes later it was 2-2 as Tanner Call reacted quickest to turn in a parried shot. And the same player headed in from a corner in the 89th minute to steal all three points.
Appleford said this weekend’s match at Stoneylands was about ‘finding a way to win’ and then getting on a run from it.
Key midfielder Matt Paine still has two more games of his FA-extended six-game ban following his red card at Stowmarket Town.
Long Melford go into the game on a five-match winning league run after Will Wingfield’s early strike proved decisive in the 1-0 victory at Gorleston to move them up to eighth.