Hadleigh United boss Christian Appleford sees good start as key to better campaign
Boss Christian Appleford believes a positive start to the new season will be key to his Hadleigh United side avoiding a repeat of the previous term’s struggles.
The Brettsiders, who were above the one relegation spot on goal difference when Covid-19 forced an abrupt end to the campaign in March, won just one of their opening 10 Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division matches in 2019/20.
Appleford missed a chunk of those fixtures due to a pre-booked holiday, and felt that his team struggled to recover from the early setbacks.
This time around he is looking to get points on the board more quickly as he targets a ‘solid season’.
“It will be a big advantage for me to actually be at the early games this time around,” he said.
“We’d struggled while I was away and it was tough going after that.
“Now we’ve got a settled group and the spirit is really good around the place.
“I don’t like setting public targets but we want to be having a solid season with a good cup run as well if possible.
“A few factors control that, including steering clear of injuries which we didn’t do last year, but we also need a good start.
“That gives you a platform, rather than having to be playing catch up straight away.
“If we can get some points on the board early on, hopefully we can surprise a few people.”
Appleford has been pleased with how the summer has gone in terms of recruitment, having added the likes of Kade Ivatt, Kyle Cassell, Max Dinnell and Joe Yaxley.
And just as importantly from the manager’s point of view, a large majority of last season’s squad have also agreed to remain at Millfield.
“I am pleased with the signings we’ve made – they’ll all add quality to us,” he added.
“But we didn’t need wholesale changes because we had added a couple of players shortly before lockdown and the results were picking up.
“Hopefully we can get back to that when the season starts.”
Hadleigh begin their league fixtures on September 5 at home to Kirkley & Pakefield, but of more immediate concern to Appleford will be Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round home tie against Mildenhall Town (7.45pm).
It’s a club Appleford knows well having managed Mildenhall for a number of years, while he also has a good relationship with his opposite number Ricky Cornish.
“The messages started pretty soon after the draw was made! It’s a match we are all looking forward to,” he said.
“It’s a tough game, but we are in a healthier position than we played them both times last season (2-1 defeats).
“It’s one of those – if we are on it then we have a good chance of winning but they’re a good side and I’m also sure they’ll fancy their chances.
“If we can get on the front foot and press them then hopefully we will cause some problems.”
INS: CM Joe Yaxley (Brightlingsea Regent), AMR KyleCassell (Hadleigh United), CB Karrin Lawrence (Bury Town, dual registration), ST Kade Ivatt (Cornard United), MC Max Dinnell (Whitton United)
OUTS: CB Jake Green (unattached)