Jacob Brown confident Long Melford can continue to surprise people with their staying power in 2020
Long Melford have been the surprise package in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division so far, but Jacob Brown sees no reason why they cannot continue to defy expectations in the second half of the campaign.
The Villagers head into 2020 in fourth place and just five points from a runners-up potential promotion place.
It is a vast upturn in fortunes from 12 months ago when they were hovering precariously above the relegation zone, eventually confirming their survival on the last day to finish 17th.
Four league defeats from five at the start of 2019/20, including a painful 9-1 loss at home to Stanway Rovers in late August, certainly masked what was to follow, with a seven-game winning streak catapulting them up the table.
Only a few players have come into the squad from last season, most notably forward Jamie Griffiths on loan from Needham Market, who has 14 goals from 26 appearances.
But former Mildenhall, Hadleigh and AFC Sudbury midfielder Brown, who joined shortly ahead of the club ending a testing 2018/19 by lifting the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup, is adamant they can prove their current position is not a false one.
“Everyone else outside the club, all other teams in the league, would never have ever thought Melford would be fourth now, let alone a month ago when we were second,” he said.
“Fourth at Christmas for Melford is amazing, it’s really good and we were just saying all the boys have got to believe we are good players and we have to keep going further.
“As much as anyone else can have a different opinion, we can do better than fourth; we just have to keep going.”
A home win last Saturday against Newmarket Town, which ended in a 2-0 defeat, could have seen them end the calendar year by leapfrogging the Jockeys into third. Jamie Bradbury’s side will be looking to bounce straight back as they host 11th-placed Brantham Athletic on Saturday (3pm), with Brown identifying a strong start as key.
“Three points is the minimum we should be getting,” he said. “They are mid-table and will want to finish high.
“With Melford, we need to get an early goal. If we can get an early goal and go at them then we will do ok.”
He added: “We have said we are going to go into the new year how we have come through 2019 so far. We’ve come fourth and we are going to be the underdogs (to maintain it) and we have to bring it to them.”
- See Thursday's Suffolk Free Press print edition for our sports review of 2019