Brantham Athletic captain Matt Ryland looking forward to playing former employees Felixstowe & Walton this weekend - a club he still holds very close to his heart

Brantham skipper Matty Ryland.

Brantham skipper Matty Ryland.

Brantham Athletic skipper Matty Ryland is looking forward to playing against some familiar faces this weekend as the Imps host his former club, Felixstowe & Walton United, in a eagerly-anticipated Suffolk derby tomorrow.

Left-back Ryland still has a lot of affection for his former employees, who have taken this season by storm as they currently sit in second place in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.

And although some may have been surprised by Felixstowe’s progress this season after ordinary previous recent campaigns, Ryland is definitely not in this bracket.

“I’m not very surprised at all at how well Felixstowe are doing,” claimed Ryland, who spent three years at the Goldstar Ground.

“They’re a very strong and organised side with plenty of quality players there.


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“They don’t give too much away at the back and have a top striker who scores goals in Cranners (Ben Cranfield).”

Ryland was club captain of the Seasiders before joining Brantham at the start of the 2012-13 season.

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He enjoyed a fine debut campaign as the Imps reached the last 16 of the FA Vase, while finishing fourth in the bread and butter of the League.

And although Brantham might not be having as quite a successful season this time around, Ryland has no regrets over changing the red and white of Felixstowe for the blue of Brantham.

“Do I regret leaving Felixstowe? No,” said Ryland.

“I’m really pleased to see them doing well but I’m a Brantham player now.

“I loved my time there and still hold a lot of affection for them.

“When I heard Brantham were interested, it was a gut-wrenching decision to move away from Felixstowe, but the opportunity to move and challenge for a top-three place was too good to turn down.”

This season has been somewhat of a transitional period for Brantham, as they have struggled to live up to last year’s achievements and this season’s expectations.

After parting company with bosses Tony Hall and Colin Grogan, Paul Abrahams is now the man at the helm, and Ryland now thinks the club has started to settle down and get back on track.

“Since the turn of the year, we’ve won three in our last five and the last two on the bounce so they’re positive signs for us,” said Ryland.

“I think the squad has finally settled down now and we looked to have turned a corner with our recent results.”

Convincing wins against Diss Town (4-1) and CRC (4-2) in The Imps’ last two games has helped them consolidate in mid-table for the time being, with the club also now in the semi-finals of the Red Insure Cup.

Looking firmly ahead to what the rest of the season holds, Ryland added: “I still think we can achieve a lot this season.

“The semi-final of the League Cup (where Brantham meet Felixstowe again on March 11) is a big opportunity for us.

“If we can get past Felixstowe in that, I’d fancy our chances, while in the League, if we can put a run together I don’t think the top six would be out of our grasps.

“OK, so the likes of Hadleigh, Brightlingsea and Felixstowe might be out of our reach, but we could certainly catch the others.

“We got to the last 32 of the Vase this season as well, so if we can win the Red Insure Cup and break into the top-six, then it won’t look like a bad season after all.”

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