Melford dig in for a point in season curtain-raiser
THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Long Melford 0
Brantham Athletic 0
Long Melford boss Jamie Bradbury’s new hard-to-beat mantra was in full evidence on the Thurlow Nunn League’s opening day, as his side escaped with a goalless draw against a Brantham Athletic side spearheaded by the division’s most feared striker.
In a game which largely saw them on the backfoot on Saturday, The Villagers managed to ensure former Needham Market and Maldon & Tiptree marksman Sam Newson was left waiting to open his account at the lower level.
“I think we can be happy with a point,” reflected Bradbury, who handed starting debuts to former Cornard United striker Luke Payne and Stanway attacking midfielder Michael Schofield on his first competitive game in charge.
“I think we did everything right from about the 20th minute.
“We started a bit slowly and didn’t have enough shape defensively and lost the ball too easily.
“So to come out of that after that start, I think we can be pleased we got a point and a clean sheet as well.
“We weren’t troubled too much, they had a bit more of the ball and probably will think they were more on top, but I think overall 0-0 was probably a fair result.”
Melford should have been punished in the 11th minute when the Newson brothers, with Ben captaining the side, combined in a slick move which saw Sean Bartlett waste a free header from Sam’s whipped cross.
The home side survived a few hairy moments from ex-AFC Sudbury captain Craig Hughes’ corners before growing into the game, but without forcing a save from Paddi Hawkins.
Melford’s experienced goalkeeper Darren Moyes came to the fore in the second half, making two good early saves, the best of which was pushing out a Bartlett header, before saving at the feet of Brantham’s player-manager Michael Brothers on the hour mark.
Livewire Hassan Ally was put clear soon after at the other end, but again the goalkeeper came out on top.
Melford’s first shot on target did not register until the 77th minute, and was a lame effort into Hawkins’ arms.
The hosts ended up thankful to Moyes and captain Steve Adams for their point. The ‘keeper denied Sam Newson at his near post before the skipper saved the blushes of fellow centre-half Anthony Waugh two minutes from time, after his back pass had put Brother clean in on goal and Adams hacked clear after he had poked past Moyes.
“The key thing is making sure we are hard to beat and that they want to be better than the players they are coming up against and show that grit and determination for 90 minutes,” said Bradbury. “We almost slipped up right at the death there and with the luck we had last year, that probably would have gone against us, but we were able to keep it out.
Long Melford: Moyes, Bayliss, Collins, Jackson, Adams (c), Waugh, Swain, Sloots, Payne (Le Page, 89), Schofield (Hodgson, 73), Ally (Joseph, 88). Subs not used: Walker, Leeder(gk). Attendance: 92
Free Press Man of The Match: Darren Moyes. Saved his side several times.