Hadleigh United aim to defend Thurlow Nunn Premier Division title but lose two strikers in 24 hours

Tesfaye Bramble, right, has left Hadleigh

Tesfaye Bramble, right, has left Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

Defending Thurlow Nunn Premier League champions Hadleigh United will head into the new campaign with just one recognised striker following a summer of change at Millfield.

Having not applied for promotion to Step Four, the Suffolk club saw 24-goal topscorer Josh Mayhew move to Brightlingsea Regent – the team that finished behind them in second, but did take the opportunity to move up to the Ryman League North.

Key man Ollie Canfer – who contributed 18 goals from midfield – has also departed (relocating to Canterbury), as have Shane Wardley (Ipswich Wanderers) and Mark Maher (Stanway Rovers).

Then, this week, strike duo Tesfaye Bramble and James Blades both informed Crawford they were moving on.

“Winning the league and losing that many players is not ideal, that’s for sure – but that’s football at our level,” said Crawford.

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“I’ve managed to fill a lot of the gaps, but losing two more strikers in the last 24 hours or so came a little bit out of the blue.

“We were hoping Tesfaye would play for another year, but he has decided to call it a day. It was a combination of things – he is working full-time now so he would have been struggling for midweek games, he’s also got his second young child on the way and he struggled with knee injuries last season.

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“Then James Blades came and said he was joining Leiston reserves. I think a relation of his manages there and he’s from that part of Suffolk.”

He continued: “I’ve signed probably the best keeper in our division in Ben Nower (from Norwich United), Ashley Sloots replaces Shane Wardley at left-back, while Kevin Inglis (Whitton), Liam Scopes and Aaron Churchyard (both Woodbridge) will give us some experience in midfield.

“We’ve got Ben Deacon back after his time at Brantham and Grundisburgh, but he’s the only striker I’ve got.

“It’s going to be incredibly difficult for me to find replacements quickly. I’ll just have to be patient, wait for the right situation to arise and, for the time being, work with what we’ve got.

“I don’t think people will be expecting us to win the title again.”

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