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Villagers bring in Bugg to boost their survival chances

SIDELINED: Jamie Griffiths (yellow) may not play for Melford this season
SIDELINED: Jamie Griffiths (yellow) may not play for Melford this season

Long Melford have brought in ex-Whitton United manager Paul Bugg to help boost the club’s bid to avoid relegation this season.

The Villagers are embroiled in a battle to avoid the drop and are 19th in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table, with a slightly worse goal difference keeping them in the relegation zone ahead of local rivals Hadleigh United.

Bugg joined Melford over Christmas, almost 18 months after resigning from the manager’s role at Whitton, where he guided the club to the First Division and Suffolk Senior Cup titles in 2014, as well as the Suffolk Premier Cup final the year after.

Melford dropped back into the bottom three at the weekend after losing 4-0 at Felixstowe & Walton United, but a victory at Ipswich Wanderers this Saturday (3pm) could propel The Villagers out of the danger zone.

After bouncing back from the 6-1 defeat at Hadleigh with a crucial 2-0 win against Wivenhoe Town, coach Jamie Bradbury is hoping Melford can respond once again this weekend.

“(The Wivenhoe game) was an important victory,” he said. “We were on a little bit of a bad run.

“The Hadleigh game wasn’t a great performance from our perspective, but we showed we can bounce back and getting the win was key.

“The key thing for us is to get as many points on the board as we can.

“We need to chalk up as many points as we can. We’ve shown on our day we are capable of raising our game — against Mildenhall we were so unlucky to lose 2-1.”

Scoring goals has been a big problem for Melford so far this season, with Jules Mumford’s side currently the lowest scorers in the Premier Division with 24 goals in 26 games.

The absence of prolific striker Jamie Griffiths has been felt at Stoneylands. Last season he fired in 31 goals in 44 games to help Melford finish in an impressive ninth place in their debut campaign at Step Five.

But a knee injury sustained in pre-season has kept Griffiths out of action this season and, although the initial time-frame was for a return early this year, the frontman is not expected to be fit for another few months at least.

“Griff is not very close,” Bradbury said, “I don’t think we’ll see much of him if at all this season.

“He’s been a massive miss for us. He’s a great lad off the pitch and has been helping us behind the scenes.

“Jules has been trying hard to get someone new in but it’s not been easy.”

Ross Waugh (suspended) will miss Saturday’s trip to Wanderers, while Nathan Rowe (hamstring) will face a fitness test after limping off injured at Felixstowe.

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