Rovers heading in the ‘right direction’ for new season

CLOSE CONTEST: The game got away from Rovers in the second half
CLOSE CONTEST: The game got away from Rovers in the second half

A youthful Haverhill Rovers side were unable to follow up last week’s beating of higher-league Mildenhall, with defeat to AFC Sudbury on Saturday.

The Thurlow Nunn Premier Division team travelled to their Step Four hosts, who play in the Bostik League Division One North, for a pre-season friendly — fielding five of their Under-18 team.

HIGH HOPES: Jon Milne competes with AFCs Ollie Dunlop for the high ball

HIGH HOPES: Jon Milne competes with AFCs Ollie Dunlop for the high ball

The side lost 4-1, despite a first-half goal by striker Jordan Palmer, who made it two from two following his goal against Mildenhall.

But manager Ben Cowling said the result was less important than giving his players a run-out and match practice before the season begins next month.

“It’s tough to play a side who were playing Step Three last season,” he said of the freshly-demoted AFC Sudbury side.

“And we had 10 or so players who weren’t available — it showed as we fielded five under-18s, who did a great job but lacked the experience.

FIRST TEAM: Jonathan Milne has been taking part in Rovers pre-season friendlies

FIRST TEAM: Jonathan Milne has been taking part in Rovers pre-season friendlies

“Youngster Jamie Judge played against AFC and again against Takeley, he did particularly well, while the other four played against AFC only.

“I think this has been the biggest thing from our pre-season so far, the chance and opportunity given to our under-18s who have done a great job at their first taste of the senior game.”

Goals from Rhys Henry, Jack Newman, Tevan Allan and Adam Mills led The Yellows to the pre-season friendly win on Saturday.

The Bostick North side went in front in their first outing of the summer at The Wardale Williams Stadium after 23 minutes, when Henry found the target.

Jack Newman grabbed their second before Rovers got back in the match with Palmer’s goal on the stroke of half-time.

However, second-half goals from Allen and Mills wrapped up the victory for Jamie Godbold’s men.

And on Tuesday evening, Rovers welcomed Takeley to The New Croft, for another friendly.

They lost 4-2, with Jebb scoring both. Cowling said the result showed there was lots of work to do, but plenty of positives too.

“We scored two good goals, created plenty of chances and played some attractive football, which was really positive,” he said.

“However, we conceded two very poor goals in the second half and I thought all four were preventable, but we’re headed in the right direction as we integrate new players and system.

“It has given us a chance to test ourselves at various levels, from playing teams much higher in the league, to teams at the same level.”