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  1. Looking back at recent matches, a fortnight ago the 1st Team put in a good performance at Team Bury and left Ram Meadow with a point for their efforts. The young Bury side were impressive going forward and put Melford under a lot of pressure. But Melford looked dangerous themselves on the counter attack and always carried a goal threat, two very different but equally good goals from Ashley Williams and Tom Wingfield earned a welcome point.

    Next up was the eagerly awaited Senior Cup quarter final against Crane Sports. It was a similar game to last year’s quarter final with Achilles: closely fought, scrappy, only a handful of genuine chances for either side. On the balance of play over the 90 minutes it’s hard to disagree that Cranes did just enough to shade it, but the key turning point was obviously the penalty. As the TV pundits would say, if that was a penalty then you’d need to give 10 penalties a match because there is holding and pushing at every free kick and corner.

    Up to that point Melford had looked comfortable after taking an early lead through an outstanding goal from Tom Wingfield after good work down the left by Ashley Williams. After the penalty Melford faded and in the second half apart from a few half chances couldn’t really work the Cranes keeper.

    The Reserves haven’t played since 5th January when goals from Lewis Cawtheray and Stuart Whitehart earned a 2-2 draw with Woodbridge Town at Stoneylands. The weather has disrupted their recent schedule, with tomorrow night’s match at Halstead Town the latest game to be called off, but hopefully the Reserves will return to action at Ipswich Wanderers on Saturday.

    The U18s’ have also been affected by the weather and haven’t played since the 3-3 draw on 9th January against Haverhill Rovers when Melford came back 3-1 down to earn a point, goals scored by Joff Anselmi (2) and Jake Boyton. Craig Power’s side are scheduled to visit Wivenhoe Town on Thursday, keep an eye on the website for updates on whether this match will survive the weather.

    The Ladies are still waiting to play their first match of 2013, weather permitting their rearranged Cup tie at Bury Town will take place on Sunday (2pm kick off at Ram Meadow).

  2. 2012 started with a 5-0 defeat and ended with a 6-0 defeat but thankfully in between there were some better times for Melford on the pitch. The highlight of course was a trip to Ipswich Town in May to contest the Suffolk Senior Cup Final, although a cruel way to lose the final it was a memorable occasion for all concerned.

    The best result of the year by some distance was the 3-2 win at Premier Division side Woodbridge Town in the FA Vase in October thanks to Will Wingfield’s late brace. The worst result was a close call between the 6-0 defeat at Halstead or 3-1 defeat at London APSA in the FA Cup.

    Melford’s best player of 2012 was in most people’s eyes Martin Westcott, who scored 14 goals in the calendar year and hardly missed a match. He’s played as a winger, centre back and defensive midfielder, always giving 100%. A great example to the younger players at the club, unless they want advice on how to take penalties…

    In the Summer the club said goodbye to Jason Maher who left with a more than respectable record as Melford manager and is now back in the game at Diss Town where he brought in Ashley Skeggs, who by all accounts has made a very bright start at Diss. Other long-serving players to move on during 2012 were Dan Grindrod, Paul Wood and Dan Cann (all to Saffron Walden), they've had bad luck with injuries recently but will hopefully be in the Walden squad that visits Stoneylands in March.

    It was always going to be tough this season and long term injuries to Sam Mansfield, Justin Crissell, Dan Gammage, Ashley Williams and Jack Durey made it even harder. However a combination of players stepping up from the U18s, Reserves and local football plus a few seasoned campaigners have battled against the odds to record 7 wins and 3 draws (in all competitions). Not bad considering the circumstances and in all honesty much better than I expected back in August.

    Certainly the influx of U18s from September onwards made a big difference to the quality of the squad. It’s been great to see players who I remember reading about in their LMFC Colts’ days end up making their Senior debuts with Melford.

    The way the U18s have played in Senior football this season suggests they’ve had very good coaching over the years: they all have good technique, composure on the ball and play without any dissent or bad attitude. The only downside is that with four 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old in the squad at the moment I’m starting to feel very old all of a sudden.

    Hopefully now that a few of the older players are starting to return from injury it will be a more balanced squad in the second half of the season, a mixture of youth and experience. And off the field, lets hope 2013 is a less turbulent year for the club. Happy New Year. Andy

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