Haverhill Rovers’ Jemel Fox has said the 1-1 draw on Saturday against league leaders Felixstowe & Walton United reflects the ‘positive change’ of new manager Marc Abbott.
Similar to their Borough neighbours, the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side experienced a torrid mid-season lull as they failed to win a game in October.
But Fox claimed that things have been improving since Marc Abbott took the helm, culminating in the ability ‘to play a top side and not be out of our depth’.
His disappointment was shortlived, however, as the side were unable to follow up on Saturday’s result, falling to a 1-0 away defeat at Saffron Walden on Boxing Day.
He said: “It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, we got such a great result at Felixstowe and then lost to Saffron.
“It’s not that simple though, we were all over them, and their keeper was given man of the match.
“That says a lot about how good we were.
“We had the more obvious of the chances and so it’s disappointing not to have converted any of them.
“Their pitch was bad, really bad, but it was just one of those things, it didn’t fall for us.
“It’s frustrating when that happens but doesn’t necessarily show where we are as a team.
“But the draw at Felixstowe does. It shows we’re now able to play a top side and not be out of our depth.”
It was Rovers who took the lead, Jordan Palmer heading in his 12th league goal of the season to put his side ahead at the break.
But Felixstowe responded after the restart, before being awarded a penalty on 78 minutes and a chance to grasp all three points.
But it was a day of missed chances as the spot kick went wide of the post, to hand Rovers an important point.
“There’s been a good change since Marc took over, in attitude, tactics, everything,” Fox added. “And a 1-1 result is a reflection of that.”
He said what the side were missing, an issue he thinks the team has struggled with all season, is a lack of ruthlessness, particularly in front of goal.
“Saffron Walden got us on the counter,” he said. “So despite us peppering their goal, they got one chance — and they took it.
“And that’s something we need to have. That was a bit of a lesson on being ruthless, it’s what we’re lacking to be a top side at the minute.
“The teams that are at the top take almost every opportunity that falls to them.
“One lapse of concentration and you’ll find yourself behind against them.
“We need to be striking that same fear into teams in the future.
“But, I also think we can be pretty happy with our progress so far. We’ve already come a long way as a team and there’s a lot more still to do.”
He said there was a hope as well as ambition in the changing rooms to climb higher up the league table in the new year, where they lie in 15th place.
They are only four results away from a top 10 place.
And, following Friday’s derby with Haverhill Borough, they next face two teams languishing near the foot of the table — a home game with Fakenham (22nd) before a trip to bottom-placed Wivenhoe Town (24th).