Branhtam resigned to losing star striker Ollie Mann
BRANTHAM Athletic boss Tony Hall is not conceding that the Ridgeons League Premier Division title is out of reach, but is resigned to losing star striker Ollie Mann in the summer.
Mann, who scored 41 league goals in Brantham’s first season in the top flight last season and attracted the attentions of a plethora of clubs including some from the Football League, has netted 24 times this season.
However, he is just returning to action after being out since the end of January, after undergoing an operation on his left knee that was aggravated just half-an-hour into a week-long trial with League One club Colchester United back in September.
The 22-year-old striker has already held talks with leaders Leiston and fellow Ryman League Division One North side Needham Market.
Hall said: “He has already told me he is leaving and he has spoken to two clubs. I am disappointed that he might want to step up one league, when we have ambitions of playing at that level ourselves and he could do it with us.”
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However, Hall is hopeful that Mann will pull on a Brantham shirt again before the end of the season.
“We will see how he gets on. He was going to start training a couple of weeks ago, but some fluid on the knee has delayed his return. I think he will be okay to play in the last three or four games.”
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Brantham’s title aspirations have been hindered by the loss of not only Mann but also Josh Mayhew, who scored his 11th goal since joining the club at the end of October, after coming on as a substitute in Tuesday 2-2 draw with Gorleston.
Hall rued: “We have had two top strikers out at the same time for around six weeks, which was unbelievably bad luck, but that is not the reason why we are where we are.
“We have made some mistakes this season, but we will learn from them for next season.”
Brantham, who decided against applying to promotion to Step 4 if they won the Ridgeons League this season, are currently third in the Premier Division – eight points behind leaders Ely City and six adrift of second-placed Wroxham.
Hall said: “We have had a fantastic season, and I think there will still be twists and turns during the run-in.
“We have still got an outside chance. We have got a game in hand on Ely and we have still got to play them. They have some difficult games to come and so have Wroxham.”
Brantham, who tomorrow entertain Haverhill Rovers, will be without left back Ben Spencer for the rest of the season, after he suffered ligament damage in Tuesday night’s match.