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Big summer for Rovers as Abbott hopes to boost squad

BIG MOVES: Marc Abbott will look to bring new faces in. Picture: Mark Westley
BIG MOVES: Marc Abbott will look to bring new faces in. Picture: Mark Westley

Haverhill Rovers have a ‘big summer ahead’, according to manager Marc Abbott, writes Hannah Dolman.

His comments follow the club’s finish near the bottom of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division in 19th place, just above neighbour and rival Haverhill Borough.

Despite finishing the season on a ‘positive note’ with a 1-1 draw at The New Croft on Saturday to promotion-bound Felixstowe & Walton United, Abbott recognises a need to ‘look at new attacking options’ for next season.

He admitted it was ‘a risk’ to allow top scorer Jordan Palmer to leave in January with his 15 goal tally.

And it was a target that remained well out of reach throughout the remainder of the season for the squad, with Rory Jebb finishing second-best on nine goals.

Abbott said: “We have missed him and his goals, absolutely.

“I took a risk in allowing him to leave and it means we will have to look at our attacking options for next season.

“We have been short on goals but it was always going to be hard to finish higher than 16th with where we were in November when I took over.

“So there will be a period of reflection now, and looking at where and how we could boost the team.”

He said he felt the club was in a ‘better position’ than their league finish suggested, with many changes taking place ‘behind the scenes’ this season.

This includes a bigger focus on youth and a pathway from the reserve and young sides to the first team.

Abbott said he had made a concerted effort to bring more youngsters into the team and had seen the last game — against a side at the other end of the league table — as a good opportunity to give them some first-team experience.

The match against Felixstowe saw them end their three-game goal drought as a result of promising youth player Kyle Clarke’s strike after 25 minutes.

Jamie Judge, another player tipped as a future Rovers star, hit the post for the hosts with 90 seconds on the clock before Clarke gave Rovers the lead with his low effort past goalkeeper Daniel Crump.

It was cancelled out in the 40th minute, however, when Sam Ford’s shot from near the penalty spot beat ‘keeper Charlie Turner.

The home side had two chances in the second period to get a winner but fell just short of converting.

Judge sliced a volley from close range to hit the crossbar before a cross from substitute Harry Halls fell to Clarke three minutes later, but his volley also missed the mark.

Abbott said: “Felixstowe, to be completely honest, didn’t play at their best but you can only play the team that shows up on the day.

“And I think we did very well, with a young side.”

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