Haverhill Rovers will need to up their game on Saturday if they are to upset the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut that is Mildenhall Town.
Hall top the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division by eight points from second-placed Stanway Rovers after an eye-catching run of 12 successive league wins under former Haverhill Rovers manager Dean Greygoose.
Mildenhall are the division’s most prolific scorers, with 43 from their 15 games.
With only 10 goals conceded they have the joint second-best defensive record and only failed to win one of their league matches, a 2-0 home loss to Felixstowe & Walton United back on August 27.
Impressive as Mildenhall have been under Greygoose, who was sacked from his New Croft post in August 2014, Rovers assistant manager Josh Shepherd (whose side have scored 28 league goals, the fifth highest in the Premier Division) is confident they can get something from the match.
“We know what to expect with Mildenhall. They are a very direct side with lots of height,” he said.
“At set pieces we are going to have to be organised and defend them well.
“It’s important we do the basics right and we need to use the ball well when we win it.
“If we do the right things defensively and battle well, I’m sure we can pick something up from the game.
“I’ve made it quite important lately that we are organised and hard to break down.
“It’s going to be a tough game and every player is going to need to step it up another 20 per cent on the performance last week (a 2-1 win at Wivenhoe Town) and even last night (the win at Saffron Walden Town), but if we are on our game and stick to our gameplan, I truly believe we can get at least a point or more out of it.”
As they were for the wins against Wivenhoe and Walden, Rovers will be without Marcus Hunt, who has work commitments.
However, Jonny Milne has dropped back into the defensive midfield position normally taken by the experienced Hunt with great effect and will continue there at home to Mildenhall (3pm).
Danny Hill came off in the second half at Walden with a tight groin, but Shepherd, who said he was ‘impressed’ with the performance on Tuesday of Hill’s replacement, Billy Bush, expects him to be okay for Saturday. Definitely out though are the injured Mitch Burr and Owen Thompson.
Manager Ben Cowling returns from holiday for the Hall game.
In his absence, Shepherd has led the team to four wins out of four, a run that has seen them strengthen defensively and adhere to the management team’s requirements.
Shepherd explained: “In the first couple of months we didn’t really have an identity, whether we were going to press or hold, whereas now the lads know what they are doing and in the last four games we have conceded no more than one goal, which is a big contrast to the results before, where we were conceding three or four.”
n Just as seventh-placed Rovers are facing the team at the summit of their division, so it is with Haverhill Borough, who travel to big-spending Coggeshall Town in the Thurlow Nunn First Division hoping to improve on or at least maintain their place in eighth.
Borough became the first team this season to defeat Coggeshall Town on September 13, winning 3-0 at The New Croft 3G.