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Sam Mansfield’s car accident last week has obviously overshadowed Friday’s local derby. Several Melford players have visited Sam in hospital where he is making progress, but his collapsed lung is still not staying inflated.

The club was fortunate to have talented former Team Bury keeper Liam Hastie ready to step up to the First Team at short notice on Friday, to replace Sam. After impressing in the Reserves this season, Liam’s home debut for the 1st Team against ended in a comfortable 3-0 win against Cornard United, in a match not helped by the wet conditions.

Cornard are enduring another tough season but they worked hard throughout Friday’s match and in a local derby/Senior Cup tie were never going to be pushovers. However, Melford created plenty of chances despite not being at their best and were unlucky to hit the woodwork twice. The draw for the next round takes place live on Friday on BBC Radio Suffolk (between 6pm and 7pm).

It was an entirely local Melford team that played on Friday, with two 17 year-olds in the starting line up, which is good to see. And the decision to play the game on Friday proved successful with the gate of 88 about double what it would have been on Saturday.

Next up is the FA Vase tie with Premier Division side Brantham Athletic, which is a completely different type of challenge; instead of being favourites Melford will be the underdogs. Melford have already surpassed expectations by reaching the 1st Round Proper and winning £1200 prize money (the club’s best Vase run since 2004/05). 31 places separate the two sides in the League, so Brantham rightly start as heavy favourites but Melford have nothing to lose. And as always under Robbie and Jules, the players will give 100% whatever the scoreline.

Good luck to Dan Cann who has moved on to Saffron Walden Town, where he will link up with his former Melford team-mate Paul Wood. Canno had a ‘one in two’ scoring record at Melford, which takes some doing especially as Melford were in the bottom half of the table for much of that period.

Most of the Cup Final squad at Portman Road in May have now left the club, which is a shame but its also part and parcel of football at all levels. Clubs go through different eras, managers and players leave which means clubs have to rebuild. At the moment Melford are at the start of a new era and in a short space of time Robbie and Jules have worked miracles to build a competitive squad since taking over in July in difficult circumstances. There will be setbacks at times, which is inevitable for what is basically a completely new team, but things are progressing nicely.

Off the pitch, the Co-Op have come on board in an exciting new sponsorship development and the new kit sponsored by Pizza Town in Sudbury has smartened Melford’s image up, as the old shirts were slowly falling apart.

The Reserves travel to Newmarket Town in their last Chell Trophy group match on Wednesday, ideally needing a win to put the pressure on group leaders AFC Sudbury. Then on Thursday the U18s also visit Newmarket (in the Thurlow Nunn Youth League Cup) where Craig Power’s Melford team will want to build on last week’s impressive 4-1 win at Witham Town.

Finally well done to the Ladies who won their opening two matches of the season, 2-1 at Bury Town and 4-0 at home to Brantham Athletic. ANDY CUSSANS

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