In-form Melton Town dismiss title talk despite hot streak

Jordan Lever's stoppage-time winner was part of a dramatic late swing which also saw promotion rivals Anstey concede a last-gasp equaliser PICTURE: Phil James EMN-190116-125846002
Jordan Lever's stoppage-time winner was part of a dramatic late swing which also saw promotion rivals Anstey concede a last-gasp equaliser PICTURE: Phil James EMN-190116-125846002
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Melton Town co-manager Tom Manship insists he will not revise his targets despite seeing his in-form side close the gap on the top two.

Jordan Lever’s stoppage-time winner at Bugbrooke on Saturday saw them close to within three points of second-placed Anstey who conceded a late equaliser.

Town co-managers Jon Stevenson and Tom Manship EMN-180211-114547002

Town co-managers Jon Stevenson and Tom Manship EMN-180211-114547002

The rollercoaster 4-3 result at in-form opponents was Town’s sixth straight win in United Counties League Division One and heaped the pressure on their promotion rivals.

But Manship maintains the season’s provisional targets of FA Cup qualification next season and growth of the club off the pitch remains their only ambitions for now.

“We won’t change our targets,” said Manship. “They remain to grow the club off the pitch and to get FA Cup football next season, and we are on our way to achieving both.

“Anything else that comes would be a bonus.”

He added: “We just keep chalking off each game. We can’t affect what the teams are doing above us, but if I had to pick a position to be in it would be ours and not theirs.”

Manship believes the catalyst for Saturday’s win came at Bourne, just days before Christmas, where 10-man Town pulled off a last-minute 1-0 victory.

“Bugbrooke was massive because they were unbeaten in 10 and had taken points off both Lutterworth and Anstey in that run,” he said.

“Beating teams at the bottom 8-0 is great, but results that matter are Bugbrooke and Bourne – those results take you places.

“At Bourne we were playing such good football and missing chance after chance, but we told them to just keep going.

“We stuck in there and believed in our game plan even when things were going against us.”

Having been guilty on occasions, of failing to take the many chances they create, Town now seem to have found a cutting edge.

They have found the net 21 times in their last six matches, but it was perhaps the timing of Saturday’s late goals, and the character to come back, which will give Town supporters most cause for hope.

Having not always had the rub of the green, Saturday’s win, combined with Anstey’s late collapse, suggests luck is finally turning their way.

“At the beginning of the season we were absolutely dominating games and coming off with draws or eight men,” Manship added.

“Things even themselves out over a season and the little things now seem to be coming off for us.

“But that’s all about belief; the character in the group is massive, particularly when the ball isn’t hitting the back of the net.”

Alongside Lever’s cool late finish, co-managers Manship and Jon Stevenson can also claim their part in the crucial goal.

Making a statement of attacking intent, they brought on Kadeem Price – the scorer at Bourne – who this time teed up the winner with his first touch.

“At 3-3 I turned to Stevo and said ‘let’s do it’ because a draw was no good to us at this stage of the season,” Manship said.

“We told Nathan (Arnold) to drop deeper for the last five minutes and we put Kadeem up top.

“He showed brilliant strength to hold off their midfielder and clipped the ball on to Jordan.

“The 18 we have are all capable of playing higher up; everyone has done a job this year.”