Derby special - Melton Town FC boss expects toughest test

Town boss Tom Manship EMN-191127-110604002
Town boss Tom Manship EMN-191127-110604002
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Melton Town player-manager Tom Manship believes their league clashes with Holwell will be among their toughest assignments of their season.

Town have had the upper hand over Holwell since Manship’s arrival in the summer of 2018, and did the double over their crosstown rivals last season, scoring four times in both meetings.

But the Town boss knows derbies have a habit of ignoring the form book, and is giving Saturday afternoon’s home clash his full attention.

“You can’t look at the league table when it’s a derby,” he said.

“I expect a really hard game, probably one of our toughest fixtures of the season.

“I have had Holwell watched as I do everyone and I expect a difficult afternoon.

“We have to approach it as another league game, but it’s not one you look at and think that’s a guaranteed three points.”

Above bragging rights, Manship will want the points to improve their league status and maintain some momentum after a stop-start first three months of the campaign.

Having finished last season in third, a string of postponements have left Melton in seventh place this term.

With cup runs on top, Town have played just 11 league matches this season – the fewest of any side in Division One – and just three UCL fixtures have been completed in the last six weeks.

“I have never known as much rain to have fallen at this stage of the season,” Manship remarked.

“If we get to the County Cup final we will have 32 games left in 19 weeks so you’re talking nearly two games a week.

“It’s going to be a tough ask, but we have a good quality squad that can cope with it.”

While preferring not to face a backlog, Manship knows winning all of their games in hand would take them up to second, and leave them only three points behind runaway leaders Long Buckby.

“Our aim for the season is top four which would give us promotion, we aren’t shouting that we’re going to win it,” he said.

“We had a great FA Cup run, got to the quarter-finals of the league cup, and are in the county cup quarter-finals.”

Melton have tightened up their defensive record this campaign, keeping eight clean sheets in those 11 league matches.

But conversely their attacking threat has not been quite so potent, with 31 goals scored, eight of those in one game.

“We have created so many chances, but we’re not quite putting them away,” Manship added.

“Against Lutterworth we had 10 chances and scored eight goals, in other games we have created 15 chances and scored once.

“But we worked hard to improve the defensive side of things, and now we are going to work on the attacking side.”