Long Melford manager Jamie Bradbury praises injury-hit squad for being able to show a different side to their game at Swaffham Town
Jamie Bradbury praised his Long Melford team for showing another side to their game in the 2-1 victory at Swaffham Town on Saturday.
With four players out injured, including talismanic figure Jamie Griffiths, and two more unavailable, the Villagers scrapped their pretty football in favour of a more direct approach.
The game plan quickly paid dividends with Melford flying into a 2-0 half-time lead via goals from Ben Judge and Tom Blackwell.
Despite not adding to that tally, the points never looked in serious danger of not returning to Suffolk, despite Ryan Pearson converting a last-minute penalty for the hosts.
The victory moved Melford back into the top three of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table, bouncing back from their eight-game unbeaten run being ended at home to Thetford Town the previous Saturday.
It also saw them voted our Iliffe Media Team of The Weekend via an online Twitter poll for the fourth week in the last six. The Villagers took 45 per cent of the share of votes, with Newmarket Town, Lakenheath and Diss Town also making the shortlist.
“It was a really good performance and a pretty solid, comfortable display,” said Bradbury of Saturday’s trip to Norfolk.
“We were missing a few faces so, realising it was going to be bad conditions with rain and a heavy pitch, we decided it was sensible to change our approach and make sure we did the basics right and not over-complicate things trying to play pretty football. It was not our usual style of play but it worked out well.
“It ended 2-1 but it could have been 4-1 or 5-1 but for their keeper making some good saves in the second half.”
With Dan Swain (foot), Nathan Rowe (hamstring) and Sam Bayliss joining Griffiths (back) out injured, Bradbury did at least welcome back Anthony Waugh to the defence, while Kyle Hurley and Jake Jackson also returned to the starting XI. Ashley Sloots was unavailable while Dan Smith was suspended.
Kicking up the slope in the first half, Melford dealt with a bit of early pressure before taking the lead after 10 minutes. Home goalkeeper Tommy Rix dropped Hurley’s shot and Judge was on hand to convert the loose ball from a few yards out to give the Villagers a dream start.
This was followed shortly after by a chance for Steve Adams, bursting through on to a neat pass from Jacob Brown, but Rix was out to deny the Melford skipper.
Just before half-time the visitors went two up when Blackwell cut in from the left and sent a shot goalwards. Adams sliding in caused confusion and the ball went under the keeper’s body, finishing up in the net.
Melford made a positive start to the second half and should have put the game to bed, but Rix repelled efforts from Hurley, Adams and Blackwell, while Will Wingfield and Jacob Brown also fired wide when well placed.
Swaffham pulled one back at the death from the penalty spot via Pearson.
Melford’s reserve team captain Toby Newman was one of only two visiting substitutes on the team sheet and came on for his first-team debut.
With last night’s League Challenge Cup home match with Stowmarket Town having been rescheduled for December 11, the Villagers will have a fortnight’s break in action before they play at Mildenhall Town a week on Saturday (3pm).
Bradbury is confident he may have all but Bayliss back from the quartet missing at Swaffham.
Elliott Walker has said he is making good progress in recovering from a serious knee injury last October. The midfielder is targeting a return to action early next year.
More by this authorRussell Claydon