Melton Mowbray face fixture backlog woes

A wintry scene at Asfordby Amateurs - not so pretty if you're a sports journalist EMN-160119-131221002

A wintry scene at Asfordby Amateurs - not so pretty if you're a sports journalist EMN-160119-131221002

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Melton Mowbray boss Matt Curtis has admitted a spiralling fixture backlog will make his side’s hopes of a maiden Senior League title even harder.

The postponement of Saturday’s home match with Kirby Muxloe Reserves meant five of Mowbray’s last seven Premier Division fixtures have been wrecked by the weather.

Melton's last home league match against Cottesmore took place at the end of December

Melton's last home league match against Cottesmore took place at the end of December

The third-placed side have played just one league match since the turn of the year because of unfit pitches, three of them at their current home at Hoby Road.

On top of that their League Cup tie at home to Friar Lane and Epworth was also called off three times due to a combination of ice and heavy rain.

Curtis said: “The lay-off hasn’t done us any favours at all and the state pitches are in at the moment doesn’t suit our style of football either.

“About 98 per cent of the pitch was fine on Saturday, but the goalmouth was full of water. Me and Phil Baker brushed the water away and put sand down, but it was still a mudpit and the conifers behind the goal stopped the sun from drying it out.

“We tried to change the venue to Saxby Road (in Melton), but no-one from the cricket club was there to open up.

The postponements mean Melton will have to play serious catch up if they are to deny Sileby Town a second successive league title.

They have now played six games less than the leaders, whom they trail by 16 points, and need to bridge a nine-point gap to second-placed Birstall who have played three matches more.

Melton have played just half of their league programme and have around three months to fit in the remaining 16 fixtures.

“We are training and just trying to keep the lads’ fitness levels up,” Curtis added.

“It’s not ideal and I imagine we will be playing every Tuesday and Saturday towards the end of the season.

“It’s going to be a big step especially with work commitments for the midweek games. We have a couple of lads who work away during the week and three school teachers.”

While the club’s efforts to profit on the pitch have been frustrated, there has at least been good news off it.

Planning permission has been granted for floodlights at their temporary pitch within Melton Sports Village, and changing rooms are due to arrive within the next fortnight after hard-standing was laid.

An FA ground inspection of the new facilities, which Melton hope to move to in the spring, was also met with encouragement.

Curtis said: “We are confident we are going to make the time lines. We have applied for promotion, but don’t really know who else has.

“It looks to be between us and Birstall so we’ve got to finish above them and then see if they will throw us into the East Midlands Counties League or the United Counties League.

“It all depends on what teams are relegated down from the leagues above them.”