Long Melford out to cause upset in home FA Cup tie with Kempston Rovers
Manager Jamie Bradbury says his Long Melford players are relishing the prospect of testing themselves against higher-league opponents in Kempston Rovers in the Emirates FA Cup at Stoneylands on Saturday (3pm).
For the Bedfordshire-based Pitching In Southern League Division One Central side the preliminary round tie will be their first competitive action of the season.
Having already played three competitive games, the Melford boss is hoping his side can use that extra match sharpness to their advantage to cause a cup upset and net the £1,444 prize money.
“We do not know much about Kempston Rovers but they are a very good side from the division above us in the Southern League and it will be a strong side,” said Bradbury, whose side opened their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division campaign with a 4-3 home defeat to Norwich United on Saturday ahead of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Stanway Rovers.
“They won against St Ives last night in a friendly 5-4, so although they are scoring plenty they are also conceding them.
“We have nothing to lose. We always like to get one win under our belts if we can to help us with finances and it would be good to get another one.
“And on our day we are capable of beating sides from the division above us and matching them and they are yet to play a competitive game while we have played three, so who knows?
“However, playing three competitive games is tiring so we will have to make sure we are physically and mentally prepared for it.”
Full-back Dan Swain is suspended for the tie while regular goalkeeper Matt Walker is not allowed to play for The Villagers in the competition, under the agreement of his dual registration with parent club Coggeshall.
But Bradbury is relieved to have found a good replacement between the sticks in Finlay Shorten – a product of Needham Market’s youth academy who made a total of six senior appearances for the Marketmen last term.
“He played against us for Brightlingsea in pre-season and hadn’t signed for a club,” said Bradbury. “He is a very good ‘keeper and a very good lad.”
Shorten was between the posts for Melford’s 1-1 draw at Stanway on Tuesday in preparation for the tie.
Melford started that game brightly and went ahead in fine style 16 minutes in when some great passing between Ben Tait and Jamie Griffiths saw the later drill home from inside the penalty area.
Stanway equalised around the half hour mark when their captain Craig Hughes forced a corner home.
This was an impetus for Stanway and twice the upright saved Melford from further goals.
In the second half Melford cleared off the goalline twice and two other efforts from Stanway deflected off the post.
Melford also had their chances with Nathan Rowe rifling high and wide from three yards out after good work by Tait.
“I think it was probably a fair result overall,” said Bradbury.
“I was disappointed that we did not make the most of our chances and Stanway likewise will have been disappointed they didn’t. It could have been six-all, there was a lot of chances.”
On Saturday at home to Norwich United, Melford found themselves having to recover from 2-0 down inside 25 minutes; a penalty from Matt Daniels on 14 minutes and a Sam Watts prodded finish.
A 38th-minute penalty dispatched by Nathan Rowe got them back in the game and they enjoyed a better second half, equalising in the 52nd minute when Jacob Brown capitalised on a mistake to score.
Callum Hemson fired Melford into a 3-2 lead but Norwich found goals in the 65th and 78th minutes to ultimately leave the hosts empty handed at the final whistle.