Next level beckons in the new year for Rovers and new signing from Sudbury

FITTING IN: Alfie Carroll was involved in the Gorleston own goal that put his side ahead, on his first full debut
FITTING IN: Alfie Carroll was involved in the Gorleston own goal that put his side ahead, on his first full debut

Haverhill Rovers’ newest recruit has backed player-manager Marc Abbott to take the team to the ‘next level’.

Defender Alfie Carroll made his first start for the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw to Gorleston, having transferred from AFC Sudbury a week earlier.

And the 20-year-old has since revealed that Abbott is a large part of the reason why he opted to return to the club he played for as a junior, after becoming surplus to requirements at Sudbury.

Carroll said: “I was told by AFC manager Mark Morsley that I didn’t feature in his plans for the season so I thought it was best for me to move.

“I want to get first-team football and play at the highest level.

“And I know Marc Abbott as he coached me when I was 15 at Haverhill Rovers EJA so I know it was the right move for me as a player.

“He was a big help to me when I was younger, helping develop my football skills and I know he can make me and the team go up to the next level.”

Carroll made his first appearance for Rovers in their recent 1-1 home draw with Wroxham, coming on as a substitute, before his full debut in another 1-1 home draw.

Abbott, in turn, praised the youngster, describing him as a ‘great player already, with even more potential’.

He said: “I’ve been keeping an eye on him ever since he was at EJA and I was surprised to hear he had no future at AFC.

“I’m very happy with the signing, it’s my first since taking over at Rovers.

“I’ve been careful to make sure anyone I bring in is the right person but losing Cameron Watson meant we did end up with an area that needed strengthening.

“And Alfie’s settled in very well already.

“I’m so impressed with his attitude as well. It’s all about playing football for him.

“It isn’t about the money and that’s just amazing.

“He wants to get better and has a great work ethic.”

But he has yet to taste victory in a Rovers shirt after experiencing back-to-back draws.

Abbott said he had mixed feelings about Saturday’s game against Gorleston, as his side went ahead from an own goal but then conceded the equaliser in the first minute of stoppage time.

He said the team had let a winning opportunity go to waste, but commended some ‘great’ first-half play.

“We started the game brightly and alert, there was some great play by us in the first half,” he said.

“But we allowed Gorleston to gain more and more momentum as the game went on.

“The goal at the end was a big blow though, it was a preventable goal and that’s frustrating.

“And you then have a tendency to over-analyse the whole game, but it’s just the way it is in football sometimes.

“Games are coming thick and fast at this stage in the season and so you have to learn what you can — we missed a chance to make it 2-0 and give us a cushion, we should have had that — and just move on to the next game.”

Their next game is, on paper, the toughest test of the league as they travel to runaway leaders Felixstowe & Walton United on Saturday (3pm).

But Abbott said his team are ‘more than capable of a positive result’, before they travel to his former club Saffron Walden Town on Boxing Day (12pm).