Melton Town tipped for United Counties League title push

Melton Town won five of their six games under Steve Hendey in a strong run-in EMN-170419-125207002
Melton Town won five of their six games under Steve Hendey in a strong run-in EMN-170419-125207002
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A couple of high-calibre signings would be enough to turn Melton Town into serious title challengers next season according to boss Steve Hendey.

A run of five wins in the six games since Hendey took over as interim manager lifted Melton to a ninth-place finish in their first season of higher grade football.

Town narrowly missed out on a place in next season’s FA Cup, with only the top seven in United Counties League Division One qualifying for the coveted competition.

But Hendey believes much bigger prizes are within the grasp of the exciting young squad.

“A lot of people are saying we going to do this and that next year,” he said.

“I don’t see any reason why, with the group of lads the club has and with two or three additions, they shouldn’t be challenging for the title.

“I definitely think if we were starting out now we would be really pushing for it.

“The league will change and the teams will change, but they definitely have the potential. But they have got to want to do it over a whole season.

“In my time here I can’t fault them; their attitude has been spot on and they have grafted their socks off.

“Two more results and they would have achieved what they wanted with a top seven finish, but they were just a bit light when it mattered.”

Any title challenge, however, could depend on whether Hendey is offered, and accepts, the job on a permanent basis.

He has under 18s league honours with Holwell Sports and a Leics Senior League title with Sileby Town on his managerial CV.

Hendey was persuaded to come out of retirement to help Tony Thorpe as co-manager at Melton in January before taking sole charge two months later when Thorpe resigned.

But despite the instant success, he has yet to make his mind up whether his return to football should be a longer-term move.

“I would like the work to continue, but haven’t made any definite decisions,” he added.

“There is a lot that can happen in pre-season, but if that group of lads wants to stay together and give it a real go then I would have to give it some serious thought.

“I only came in for the last 13 games originally, but it has gone very well. They are a good bunch of lads and the atmosphere is good so it would be a shame for that not to continue.”

One of the big factors in Town’s late season revival was in recruitment since Hendey joined, with defenders Tom and Joe Cooper and Leon Fray strengthening a makeshift back line, and Richard Cragg returning in goal.

With exciting creative talent Tom Byrne hoping to return from a long-term knee injury next season, and the huge promise of young Alex Horobin, there remains plenty of promise.

Hendey believes just another goalscorer and a second keeper would be required to turn the club into serious contenders.

“When I joined the squad was pretty bare,” he said. “There were not enough bodies and the defence was makeshift.

“Every time I watched them before I thought there was a lot of potential, but they leaked goals like there was no tomorrow.

“They are getting to the age at 25 or 26 where they have got two or three of their best seasons ahead of them if they stay disciplined.”