Melton Town put in their best performance for many weeks as Steve Hendey’s first match in sole charge ended with a convincing win at high-flying Potton on Saturday.
Potton were taken by surprise by the sharpness and tenacity of the visitors with Melton hunting in packs when out of possession and working tirelessly to support the man on the ball when on the offensive. Forward John Love epitomised this work ethic and never let the home defence settle.
The hosts were struggling to cope with Melton’s sharp interplay, with Cufflin-Stableford and Aaron Black having a lot of joy in the wide midfield areas.
And after a couple of narrow escapes the Potton defence was breached when Hendey released Cufflin-Stableford who drove strongly at Foster and Stafford. His hard, low shot was blocked, but Love pounced on the loose ball to apply the finish past keeper Cook.
Potton responded to the setback with Ansell-Carter leading their forward line intelligently, but with Tom and Joe Cooper in excellent form at the heart of Melton’s defence, a clear sight of goal never materialised.
Town continued to win the important battles all over the pitch and went further ahead when a lovely ball from Clayton picked out Cufflin-Stableford. He split Potton’s square back line and found the on-rushing Baker who calmly rounded Cook to increase Melton’s lead.
Potton’s dangerous wide men were being well marshalled by Lapworth and Frey as Melton continued to dominate.
Aaron Black, Baker, Hendey and Love all went close to finishing off some sparkling attacking moves before the break.
Potton, looking for a quick reply in the second half, once again found the visitors in resolute mood.
Meredith had Potton’s first real effort of the game on the hour, but his powerful shot was inches over.
The hosts, who began the day in sixth, were now being forced to go more direct, but anything into Melton’s area was dealt with confidently by King, and every time a Melton player was beaten there was always a covering player to snuff out any danger.
The visitors were looking a very solid unit and refused to be pushed back onto the defensive.
Love, Cufflin-Stableford and Aaron Black continued to torment Potton’s defence, and while Baker and Black almost increased the lead, Melton denied the league’s form team a single shot on goal.
Potton’s manager was very gracious in defeat, telling Town manager Steve Hendey that Melton were the best side Potton have played at home this season, praising Town’s physicality, work rate for each other and their threat from many areas.
Hendey was delighted with the result and especially the performance.
The lads were absolutely buzzing from start to finish, and out-played a good Potton side,” he said.
“With everyone putting in nine out of 10 performances we were not going to be denied the win today.
“We were excellent in all departments. What we need to do now is find the consistency to produce results like that to the end of the season.
“It was pleasing to reward the supporters who made the long journey.”
Another tough test awaits Town on Saturday when they travel to seventh-placed Irchester United (kick-off 3pm).
Hendey’s men will look to avenge the 3-2 defeat in Melton in November.
Town: A. King, B. Lapworth, T. Cooper (c), J. Cooper, L. Frey, J. Cufflin-Stableford, M. Hendey, J. Baker, Aaron Black, J. Love, Aidan Black, L. Mann, A. Bishop, A. Palfreyman.