Melton Mowbray boss fumes as crucial Senior League game called off at 11th hour

Melton Mowbray FC in their change strip, sponsored by Engineered Air Treatment Ltd EMN-150417-113750002
Melton Mowbray FC in their change strip, sponsored by Engineered Air Treatment Ltd EMN-150417-113750002
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Melton Mowbray co-manager Matt Curtis was fuming after his title-chasing team had their penultimate match called off just half-an-hour before kick-off.

The Melton players were on the pitch doing their final warm-ups for their Senior League fixture at Kirby Muxloe Reserves when match officials told them the hosts were unable to field a team.

The postponement allowed rivals Sileby Town to leapfrog Mowbray at the top of the Premier Division with victory over Friar Lane and Epworth.

Curtis said: “It’s the usual end-of-season farce.

“They had nine or 10 players, but their manager started to send them home.

“The referee came out and told us the game was off as we were warming up.”

Kirby will be deducted three points for failing to field a side having suffered the same penalty twice already this season.

Melton asked the league for a walkover to automatically award them the three points, but were told the matter cannot be reviewed until after the May bank holiday.

Mowbray subsequently offered to replay the game tomorrow evening (Friday), but a decision was still pending at the time of going to press.

Curtis and joint manager Cliff Thornton fear a repeat of last season when the Kirby fixture was switched to a midweek date at the end of the season.

Needing victory to guarantee the championship, Melton were held to a draw by a Reserves side strengthened by several first XI players and missed out on the title on goal difference.

“We don’t want to end up playing their first team when they haven’t got a match because it could decide the championship again,” Curtis added.

“It just seems to be the story of the last three years. We have tried to play by the rules, we haven’t called a game off all season, but others manipulate the rules. If we complain it seems to work against us.”

Fellow promotion rivals Saffron felt they suffered the same fate when their title hopes were all but ended on Tuesday evening with defeat against bottom side St Andrews Reserves.

The basement side had won just five games of 30 prior to kick-off, but bolstered by players from the East Midlands Counties League leaders, they won 1-0.

Melton play their other match at Saffron on Tuesday (kick-off 6.30pm) hoping to take maximum points, while hoping Sileby slip up. Mowbray trail the leaders by three points, but with a superior goal difference, with two matches each to play.

In a twist of fate, Steve Hendey’s side host St Andrew’s Reserves in their final game on May 2.

Curtis added: “Sileby are in good form so it’s theirs to lose now.

“We have just got to win our games and pray for the right result.”