Melton Town FC ready for new horizons in United Counties League

New Melton Town boss Tony Thorpe was a �1 million player in his professional days EMN-160308-101946002

New Melton Town boss Tony Thorpe was a �1 million player in his professional days EMN-160308-101946002

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Melton Town boss Tony Thorpe admits he and his side face a step into the unknown as they prepare for their United Counties League bow on Saturday.

It will be a landmark day for the club as Thorpe takes charge of his first game with Melton who will be playing at their highest-ever level and under a new name.

New keeper Alex Egner EMN-160308-102001002

New keeper Alex Egner EMN-160308-102001002

The match against Potton United (kick-off 3pm) will also be only the club’s third competitive fixture at their newly-named home, the Digital Deadline Ground.

But the former Bristol City and QPR striker believes the new boys’ tag could play into his side’s hands.

“No-one knows what we are like which could help us,” he said.

“It’s going to take a couple of months for us to get used to this level of football, but I’m pretty confident if we can get through that without too much trauma we can move forward.

John Love came off the bench to tee up Town's second EMN-160308-102015002

John Love came off the bench to tee up Town's second EMN-160308-102015002

“I have spoken to a lot of people that know the division better than I do and if you have a solid back four and good offensive players who can open doors you will do well.

“I play a system which allows us to attack with good pace.”

Town have been busy in the transfer market following their promotion from the Senior League, bringing in goalkeepers Alex Egner and Ashley King from Barrow Town. Melton have also raided the East Midlands Counties League club for Angus Gentleman and Sam Beaver.

More step six experience has arrived in Harry Calver, from Anstey Nomads, and Richard Stainsby, from Radford, while Joe Williams and John Love have joined from former LSL rivals Cottesmore.

“I’m really pleased with what we have brought in,” Thorpe added. “But we will hopefully strengthen throughout the season.

“The players deserve to be given a chance here, but I would like to add one or two more experienced players, maybe another striker.

“They are all under pressure to perform.”

Perhaps the biggest scoop of the summer, however, is former Holwell Sports forward Tommy Byrne, who has been brought in from Evo-Stik League Northern Premier side Coalville Town.

“Tommy is going to be a very good addition to the squad,” Thorpe said. “He has been around at a good level of football and done really well.

“He could be the difference between us being in the top six or not. That little bit of quality is what this league is all about.”

The Town manager is also happy with the squad he inherited from Cliff Thornton and Matt Curtis, most of whom have re-signed.

Seventeen-year-olds Shaun Smith and Alex Horobin are also expected to make the step up into the seniors more regularly this season.

“Shaun and Alex have been absolutely brilliant, and Jack Baker has been one of the best players in the Senior League,” Thorpe added.

“With the squad we have, I’ve said to the board I want to be very competitive and in the top eight.

“I demand that the players give me work ethic, because ability-wise they are not too far away.”

Thorpe will have to do without Byrne and Baker on Saturday as his new charges open their campaign against dangerous opponents.

“Potton will be a tough test and that’s great for me,” he said. “They finished sixth last year and have strengthened again.

“Hopefully we will get a good result, but either way it will give me a good idea of what the league is like.”