Long Melford manager David Hennessey not looking to take any chances with relegation in light of Norwich United’s withdrawal from Thurlow Nunn League
Long Melford manager David Hennessey is confident he can turn the club’s nightmare start to their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division campaign around to avoid any potential threat of relegation hanging over them.
Norwich United’s withdrawal from the league appears to have given teams a safety net with only one from each Step 5 division set to be demoted this season, instead of two in previous years.
But Hennessey says his winless side – who are effectively bottom in 19th with just a point from their 15 matches, having seen their victory against Norwich expunged – will be fighting to finish at least 18th. The gap to Kirkley & Pakefield above them currently stands at four points with Melford holding two games in hand.
"It is 100 per cent our aim to make sure that for whatever reason we aren't in the bottom two when it comes to the final standings of those 20 teams, so we're not back to where we were when I came in when it was 'oh Melford got a reprieve, Melford got lucky and this that and the other',” he said, having led the club to an 11th-placed finish in his first campaign in charge last term.
"We want to take matters into our own hands and aren't in that situation come the end of the season, whilst at the same time taking the opportunity to see the lads (under-23s) we have got and if they're going to be good enough for next season."
He admitted changing their playing style to a more attractive front-foot one over the summer and retaining almost all of a squad that had ‘probably over-performed’ their capabilities had been partly responsible for their dire league form.
He also pointed to other factors such as individual errors, not getting the rub of the green and a run of postponements – the latest Saturday's home game against Lakenheath – wiping out any momentum from their contrasting cup victories.
But off the back of six straight league defeats he believes improved results are coming, having just added tricky attacking midfielder or forward Santi Davies from Thetford Town ahead of Saturday's trip to fifth-placed Downham Town (3pm) while several trialists are also training.
“Everything that could go against us is going against us, but that's football and I'm not sitting here griping and sulking about it,” he said.
"The fact is we are not a million miles away and while some of the scorelines you look at and go 'that's a tough one to take' the majority of the games we are competitive in and we are holding our own.”
He added: “It's been challenging, especially after last year when everything was good and buzzing with great energy around the place.
"But we believe in what we're doing and we believe in the players we have within the squad and we have the backing of the club. The committee fully understand what we're trying to do as does the chairman and club president.
“I believe in the group that we've got and I believe we'll get enough results between now and the end of the season to make sure we are not a) in any (potential) relegation positions and b) we kick on for the following season."
In contrast, Tuesday will see The Villagers look to book their spot in the quarter-finals of the League Challenge Cup with victory away to fifth-placed First Division North outfit Harwich & Parkeston (7.45pm).
Hennessey said: “We seem to have saved our better performances for the cup and obviously Harwich are picking up some decent results so they'll be fired up looking to take a scalp, no doubt.
"But it's a cup that in recent times we have a decent history with and we'd like to progress.”