Melton Mowbray boss Curtis targets make-or-break month

Melton Mowbray FC management team, from left, Matt Curtis, Cliff Thornton, Phil Baker EMN-150601-153955002
Melton Mowbray FC management team, from left, Matt Curtis, Cliff Thornton, Phil Baker EMN-150601-153955002
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Melton Mowbray joint manager Matt Curtis believes the next month will be pivotal in their quest to become Senior League champions.

His side head into a season-defining run of games four points clear at the top and full of confidence after 10 straight league wins.

The Premier Division leaders meet three of their promotion rivals in successive home games before facing a big county cup semi-final.

The sequence begins on Saturday with a home match at Asfordby against perennial rivals Friar Lane and Epworth.

Fourth-placed Saffron are the next to visit Hoby Road on January 24 before second-placed Sileby arrive on February 7.

Melton could face a potential crunch match in early April when they travel to Saffron for their penultimate match of the season.

Co-manager Matt Curtis said: “January and February will be make-or-break for us.

“We have some big games coming up, but after that most of our fixtures are against teams from the lower reaches of the table, and on paper they should be quite comfortable for us.

“Sileby have done well and look to be our main threat now. They have four games in hand on us, but I would sooner have the points in the bag.”

Friar Lane trail Melton by six points in third place with a game in hand and Curtis’ men have enjoyed the better of recent tussles.

After grabbing a 3-3 draw in the reverse league encounter in August, a skeleton squad grabbed an unlikely extra time away win in the Senior Cup.

He added: “Friar Lane like to play at a quick tempo and are quite a physical team.

“They can be very direct and we have to be aware of their threat from set pieces. We’ll talk about that before the game: how we defend and how we set up.

“We are looking forward to it; I think the pressure will be on Friar Lane.

“We are at home on a good pitch which suits our style of football and will go in full of confidence from the performances we are putting in.”

Curtis believes consistency in team selection has been a big factor in their winning run.

He and co-manager Cliff Thornton will head into the crunch period with a full squad to choose from.

Their sole injury concern Gav Williamson returned on Saturday after a six-week injury lay-off, coming on as a second half substitute in the 2-0 win at Caterpillar.

Curtis said: “Over the last three games we’ve been able to keep the same starting XI.

“The lads realise if they keep winning, they keep their shirt.”

* Kick-off for Saturday’s showdown is 2pm.