Melton Town: Thorpe looks to strengthen side for top six push

Melton Town boss Tony Thorpe (right) and assistant manager Ross Perkins EMN-160726-182823002
Melton Town boss Tony Thorpe (right) and assistant manager Ross Perkins EMN-160726-182823002
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Melton Town manager Tony Thorpe insists a top six finish is possible if the club strengthens his tiring squad.

Thorpe is hoping to bring in two signings before Saturday’s trip to Wellingborough as he looks to bolster his side’s defence.

Ash Palfryeman is Division One's top scorer with 16 goals in 17 starts

Ash Palfryeman is Division One's top scorer with 16 goals in 17 starts

After a tricky start to life in the United Counties League, Town have been one of the form sides in recent months.

They sit fifth in Division One as their league programme nears its halfway mark, and just six points off top spot despite a narrow 1-0 defeat to new leaders Bugbrooke on Saturday.

But a hectic schedule is taking its toll with Melton playing twice a week for most of the opening two-and-a-half months.

A hamstring injury to Joe Slater reinforced Thorpe’s desire to bring in fresh recruits and shore up a backline which has conceded 34 goals this season, the highest amount outside the bottom six.

Bugbrooke went back to the top of the UCL Division One with three points at Melton EMN-161025-103715002

Bugbrooke went back to the top of the UCL Division One with three points at Melton EMN-161025-103715002

“The players are looking a bit tired and jaded,” he said. “In this league with the fixtures as they are we need to make changes, but we’ve not been able to do this through work commitments and injuries.

“We have some young guys on the bench who have done brilliantly, but they are not quite ready.

“We want to strengthen because we have an opportunity to do really well this season.”

Thorpe took over newly-promoted Melton in the summer and admitted it would take a few months to gauge the standard of the United Counties League and work out how his team could prosper in it.

And despite losing four of their opening six games, the manager is proud of how his players have found their feet in step six football.

With an attack spearheaded by Jordan Cufflin-Stableford and Ash Palfreyman – the division’s leading scorer with 16 goals in 17 starts – Town have won seven of their last 10 games and beaten two Premier Division sides in cup competition.

Thorpe added: “Jordan and Ash have been absolutely excellent, but all of the players deserve a lot of credit for what they have done in a short period of time.

“We have found a system in 3-5-2 which works for us and the players have rolled their sleeves up, stuck together and gone on a big run.

“Olney and Daventry seem to be the strongest at the moment and the rest of us are fighting to get into the top six.”

Thorpe believes his current squad is capable of a top-half finish, but the former Bristol City and Luton Town striker has higher targets on his mind.

“If we add the right players there is no reason why we can’t finish in the top six,” he added.

“But if we don’t bring them in soon I think this bunch of players can still finish in the top half.

“That would be a success for a team which has been promoted into a new league, but I set my targets a bit higher than that.

“I demand a bit more and will continue to do so; I want my players to look up the league rather than down.

“The club’s ambition is to be a Premier Division side by the time the new stadium is done.

“If we can do that in the next two years that would be an amazing achievement.”