Melton Town boss taking nothing for granted as UCL title race takes a turn

Melton Town boss Tom Manship is pleased with the improvements made in his 18-month tenure EMN-200115-131150002
Melton Town boss Tom Manship is pleased with the improvements made in his 18-month tenure EMN-200115-131150002
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Tom Manship insists there are plenty more twists to come despite Melton Town taking a big step forward in the United Counties League race on Saturday.

Town put four answered goals past promotion rivals Harrowby and gained ground on Division One leaders Long Buckby and second-placed Bugbrooke who both drew.

Having trailed Buckby by 18 points at the start of December, Town are now just four points off top spot, and for the first time in many months can go top if games in hand are won.

But while an ever-mounting list of postponements means more than half-the-season is still to be played, player-manager Manship is refusing to get carried away.

“I’ve been told we are nine points better off than at this stage last season which shows we have moved forward and are improving,” he said.

“We are halfway and doing really well, but I can’t look at this in January and say it’s in our hands. Maybe after 30 games.

Manship added: “I have never known a situation like this in my career – we won’t be at halfway until after the middle of January. It’s a one-off season.

“When you are playing two or three times a week, every week, anything can happen. There’s a lot of football to be played.

“Some teams will get stronger and go on a roll, others will drop off – it’s a strange one.”

While the unprecedented fixture backlog makes the campaign harder to call, Manship does believe it could play into Melton’s hands.

“It will all come down to whose squads can cope, who can keep their squad fresh, who can avoid picking up injuries and suspensions,” he added.

“I’m confident we have the squad to cope and to keep things fresh, and I think that will be a factor.

“If your players are over 30 and you’re playing two or three times a week that will be hard.”

Manship and Nathan Arnold have added young players to a strong squad in recent months, recruitment which appears well-timed for the challenges that lay ahead.

While Kadeem Price has joined Harrowby for more game time, and Levi Fray has also left for more football, Town’s recent recruits have been quick to make an impact.

Corey Bucalossi has scored five times in seven starts since joining from Notts County, while Coden Duncan, Kieran Cummings and Scott Sandy have all added goals and assists in a handful of appearances.

“It’s always important to strengthen so long as they are the right characters and the right fit for us,” the manager added.

“They have all fitted in. There are no egos, they have all bought into our philosophy and how we want to play.”