WITH the top four still in sight, Mildenhall Town manager Christian Appleford is hoping his side can bounce back from a ‘smash-and-grab’ loss to Haverhill Rovers.
Hall travel east to face FC Clacton tomorrow (3pm) on the back of an impressive performance yet poor result after Rovers’ Marcus Hunt and Dan Cornwell struck in the dying minutes of Saturday’s defeat.
Although that defeat left Appleford’s men 11th in the Ridgeons League Premier Division, he still has his sights set firmly on the top four.
“If we had won on Saturday, we would have been three points off fourth,” said the Mildenhall chief. “Everybody is capable of beating everybody in this league and there will be lots more twists and turns before the season finishes.
“Our team and squad is better than this time last year and we’ve got players wanted by other teams who are choosing to stay here because they want to build with us.”
Andrew Wood rejected an approach from Wroxham two weeks ago and Hall’s latest wanted man to turn down the advances of another club is Steve Holder — the versatile ex-Walsham-le-Willows attacker deciding a move to Ryman One North side AFC Sudbury was not for him.
However, neither of those strikers were able to prevent a wasteful Mildenhall from crashing to a 2-0 loss at home to Haverhill Rovers on Saturday.
Two late goals gave Haverhill a third win over Mildenhall this season and saw the home side punished for their profligacy.
Hall started the game with a strong wind at their backs and created three clear chances in the opening 15 minutes.
First Wayne Proctor shot wide when clean through, then Andrew Wood was twice unable to find the net with only the keeper to beat.
The Rovers defence tightened up after that initial spell, but the hosts continued to move the ball around tidily and were close to taking the lead twice more when Michael Harvey volleyed just over and Wood flashed a header inches wide.
Haverhill almost stole the lead shortly after the break but Josh Pope spread himself well to save from Craig Calver, but Mildenhall were soon back on the offensive and only a fine stop denied Proctor’s far-post volley.
As the game opened up there were further opportunities for both sides, the best to Wood, whose goal-bound header was somehow cleared off the line by Stuart Wardley.
With just seven minutes remaining Hall were punished for their misses. Pope came to claim a corner only to be beaten to the ball by Marcus Hunt, who nodded home.
And the victory was sealed in the final minute when a sharp counter-attack was finished off clinically by Dan Cornwell.
Appleford added: “They turned up in their masks and capes and robbed us. I was speaking to their manager Peter Betts after the game who said he was embarrassed to come away with the points after that.”
n Hall’s Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup quarter-final was postponed this week and has been rearranged for Tuesday (7.45pm).