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Skipper Ben Bradley wants to see change in Haverhill Rovers' mindset




Haverhill Rovers captain Ben Bradley is confident the current squad is good enough to steer clear of a relegation battle – as long as they learn to be more streetwise in their performances.

The suspension of non-elite football for the second Covid-19 lockdown has given plenty of opportunity to asses what has been behind Rovers’ worrying start to the campaign.

A run of six straight Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division defeats has left Marc Abbott’s side with just four points from 10 matches and a point and a place off the foot of the table.

Ben Bradley is looking for his Haverhill Rovers team-mates to show more of a gritty side to their game when they returnPicture: Mark Westley
Ben Bradley is looking for his Haverhill Rovers team-mates to show more of a gritty side to their game when they returnPicture: Mark Westley

Bradley, who has taken over the captaincy this season after rejoining his hometown club from higher-league St Neot’s Town towards the end of the abandoned 2019/20 campaign, is certainly not shying away from things.

“Results certainly haven’t been good enough and people can see we have really struggled to replicate some of the performances from the cup competitions in the league,” said the player who originally joined Rovers’ under-18s side after being released from Colchester United’s academy aged 16.

“I personally, and I know Marc did as well, expected more of the players that were brought in and maybe some of the younger players that we have given a lot of opportunities too.

Haverhill Rovers captain Ben Bradley has five goals in 11 appearances this seasonPicture: Mark Westley
Haverhill Rovers captain Ben Bradley has five goals in 11 appearances this seasonPicture: Mark Westley

“Playing with them in training they have got unbelievable amounts of ability but the main factor is a lot of them haven’t played men’s football.”

It is the ability to grind out results and play ugly that Bradley believes Rovers need to quickly find in order to cast away doubts of having their Step 5 status in question.

“When you go away to the deepest, darkest places in Suffolk in the Thurlow Nunn League you have to dig in sometimes as you’re not going to be given the opportunity to play football out from the back,” he said.

“You have to earn your right to play in the game.

Haverhill Rovers lost 1-0 at Newmarket Town shortly before the lockdown came inPicture: Mark Westley
Haverhill Rovers lost 1-0 at Newmarket Town shortly before the lockdown came inPicture: Mark Westley

“Some of the senior players haven’t been good enough either
but especially some of the younger players just haven’t had that experience of going away somewhere and thinking let’s dig in and
be hard to beat and maybe nick a 1-0.

“It doesn’t look pretty but at the same time they are the games that win you the points that get you up the league.

“That’s what I have always known Rovers being very good at. The teams I have played at have always been good at that.

“Teams would hate coming to Rovers to play against us and try and break us down but we’ve lost a lot of that identity now.

“But Marc is doing a fantastic job at training with brilliant sessions and it is just something on a match day is not quite happened and I expected it to change sooner than it has. Luckily, we have still got enough games in the season to put it right.”

At the same time he has felt he has been playing some of his best ever football, scoring five goals from 11 appearances, most often deployed in an advanced midfield role.

Bradley said: “I remember having a sit down chat with Marc a
few seasons ago and he wanted me
to get more goals.

“I’ve put a lot of work in in pre-season on finishing and arriving in the box at the right time and now I think it’s starting to come to fruition in match days; long may it continue when we get back out there.”

The Thurlow Nunn League has now rejigged the fixture lists to account for the postponed matches with Rovers set to return at home to unbeaten Stowmarket Town on Saturday, December 5 (3pm), government approval permitting.

Read more: Rovers boss far from panicking after poor start