Long Melford manager Jamie Bradbury says side will not get carried away with their winning streak after firing six past struggling Hadleigh United
Six goals seemed a fitting way for Long Melford to rack up their sixth straight win – but manager Jamie Bradbury says his players are not about to fall into the trap of expecting more victories to follow.
He admitted Saturday’s game with struggling visitors Hadleigh United had been evenly poised at 1-0 in their favour until a penalty was awarded to his side early in the second half.
From there Will Wingfield’s cool kick added to Jamie Griffith’s heavily deflected strike and the scoreline soon snowballed with Ross Waugh and Dan Clark getting in on the act as well as a Griffiths’ second-half brace to complete his hat-trick.
“We are definitely not getting carried away,” said Bradbury, whose side moved up to sixth place in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table ahead of a trip to fourth-place Woodbridge Town on Saturday (3pm).
“We know that every game that we come up against is tough. Hadleigh is always a tough game as it is a local derby and they are up for it and are in a position where they need to get points, so we always know it is going to be a tricky game and at 1-0 it was.
“If they would have gone on to get a goal at that point it could have gone either way and lifted them up a bit. But we just got that second just at the right time and it got the boys back on track as they had slipped off their levels a little bit. But they went on from there.”
With Dan Swain (foot), Anthony Waugh (thigh), Nathan Rowe (hamstring), Deklan Roy (knee), Sam Bayliss (hamstring) and Ben Judge (away) all missing from the side on Saturday, it showed how the squad’s ability to cope is proving much better than last season.
Bradbury said “The boys are buzzing and football is a habit, whether that is winning or losing.
“We were obviously in a different situation last year with the same group of players because we didn’t have luck with injuries and stuff.
“We have added a couple of additions to make us a bit stronger when players are injured, like today when we still have four or five boys unavailable. But others have been able to come in and perform well.
“It is great to be where we are at the minute and we don’t take it granted because of what happened last year.”
Early efforts from Ashley Sloots and Tom Blackwell went wide for the hosts whose bright start was rewarded with the lead in fortunate circumstances in the 15th minute. Griffiths’ low shot from the edge of the penalty area would have been comfortable for goalkeeper Nick Punter but a heavy deflection off Hadleigh player-coach Danny Smy left him with little chance of keeping it out.
Hadleigh, who had gone into the game third from bottom, were far from stuck in their own half but they did not truly threaten Matt Walker’s goal until he produced a low fingertip save to divert Kyle Ferguson’s shot round the far post.
The visitors started the second period well with Ferguson drilling just over the crossbar while Joel Glover was unmarked from Gavin Van-Oene’s excellent cross but failed to connect with it.
Those missed opportunities then proved key as the referee adjudged Punter had taken out Tom Blackwell, who was chasing a ball into the penalty area, with Wingfield confidently dispatching the 55th minute spot-kick.
Glover wasted a well positioned free kick before Melford showed their clinical edge with a deep one of their own that saw Ross Waugh slide home at the far post from Griffiths’ delivery shortly after the hour mark.
Hadleigh’s luck seemed to be summed up when both Kyle Ferguson (hamstring) and captain Ben Elliot (nose) were forced to leave the field through injury within minutes of each other.
But there were faint hopes of a comeback when Van-Oene fired in following a corner not being cleared to make it 3-1 in the 68th minute.
Within two minutes Melford restored their three-goal lead with Griffiths punishing Punter’s hesitation to clear the ball he had raced out of his box for.
The visitors were relived to see Jacob Brown’s close-range finish soon after ruled out for offside, but further damage was to come.
In the 86th minute and Griffiths laid off to Dan Clark whose effort went in off another heavy deflection.
Griffiths completed the rout himself for his hat-trick two minutes into additional time, nicking the ball back on the edge of the area and cooly rolling his shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
There was almost a seventh but the lively Blackwell had his head in his hands after squandering two one-on-one chances.
Hadleigh manager Christian Appleford was far from happy with the penalty decision which he felt changed the course of the game.
“In the first 10 minutes of the second half we were completely on top creating things and getting bodies in the box and to be honest we have been absolutely undone by an awful decision from the official,” he said. “That is not a penalty. The bloke has jumped over him and then jumped again before he has gone down. And when we are in the position we are in, very fragile, we have then capitulated a little bit.”
He added: “Towards the end we have had to go for it a bit to try and pull it back and it has left us very open. It was just a sort of perfect storm at the end to make the result what it was.”
Melford: Walker, Smith, Wingfield, Jackson (Pether 84’), R Waugh, Sloots, Blackwell, Brown, Adams (c)(Khan 83’), Griffiths, Hemson (Hurley 77’).
Hadleigh: Punter, Ferguson (Howlett 63’), Ross (Varden-Barber 82’), Elliott (Crisp 67’), De’ath, Rose (c), Van-Oene, Smy, Glover, Ruel, Andrews. Attendance: 72
Free Press Man of the Match: Jamie Griffiths. Scored three and set up two.
* Meanwhile, striker Reece Dobson has departed Hadleigh United for higher-league Brightlingsea Regent.
The former AFC Sudbury and Needham Market forward only signed for the Brettsiders in the summer and made six appearances for Christian Appleford's side, scoring one goal.
Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup:
* Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup holders Long Melford required a late leveller followed by a penalty shootout to past Whitton United in a re-arranged home tie last night, after the referee had deemed the pitch lines at Stoneylands were not clear enough shortly before the original fixture had been due to take place.
Jamie Griffiths had picked up where he left off on Saturday by putting the hosts into the lead but Whitton equalised before half-time.
The visitors then took the lead but a last-minute goal from defender Ross Waugh gave Melford the chance to remain in the competition they won for the first time last season via a penalty shootout. That ended 5-4 in their favour.