Hadleigh United face difficult Haverhill Rovers battle, says boss Stuart Crawford

Hadleigh boss Stuart Crawford

Hadleigh boss Stuart Crawford

Hadleigh United manager Stuart Crawford is expecting a tough test against third-placed Haverhill Rovers this weekend.

Although they might appear to be sitting pretty at the top of the Thurlow Nunn as things stand, Hadleigh’s position could come under threat from Haverhill among others should they win their games in hand.

The Brettsiders are unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions and haven’t lost since September 7 but Crawford is not taking their current position and record for granted.

“Saturday is a huge game for us,” said Crawford.

“It’ll be a real challenge against a very good side with a good manager.

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“They’ll be organised and we’re aware of their key players – which we always are.”

Saturday’s opponents Haverhill are currently 10 points behind Hadleigh but have three games in hand.

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A defeat on Saturday to one of their nearest rivals therefore, would no longer see the Brettsiders as ‘runaway leaders’.

However, Hadleigh haven’t remained top of the league for the majority of the season for no reason and will go into Saturday’s game brimming with confidence.

Crawford added: “We’re at home and we’re still flying so we’re confident of a good result.”

That said, Crawford’s and Hadleigh’s fortunes will not be helped on Saturday by the growing list of injuries at the club.

After previously losing key men Ollie Canfer and Mark Maher to knee and ankle injuries respectively, Crawford will also be without the services of winger Matt Downing (knee) and last week’s goalscorer James Blades (hamstring) this week.

“I’m not going to lie – the mounting injuries are a concern,” said Crawford.

“To have four or five key players missing from a squad of 16 senior players is far from ideal.”

Crawford has been seeking a resolution to his side’s unavailabilities but with limited success.

After initially missing out on Diss striker Adam Burroughs last month, Crawford tried to lure the Tangerines hitman to Millfield again last week.

“Adam’s decided to stay where he is,” said the Hadleigh boss.

“It’s a bit of a disappointment because Diss are struggling and we’re top of the league but it’s his decision.

“Fair play to him for staying loyal to Diss but I’m disappointed,” repeated Crawford.

As well as Burroughs, Crawford also tried to bring FC Clacton midfielder Stewart McFarlane to the club recently but again saw his efforts rejected.

“We played against the lad a few weeks back and he really caught my eye,” explained Crawford.

“He is a very gifted player technically and we approached him but he wasn’t interested.

“He told me he’s still coming back from a nasty injury and just wants to settle playing football again which is fully understandable – we might explore that opportunity again in the summer.”

Hadleigh narrowly defeated Haverhill 1-0 in this fixture last season and Crawford is expecting another closely-contested affair.

“We haven’t had a great record in my time here against Haverhill if I’m honest,” said Crawford.

“We always struggle to beat them and I’m sure it will be a close game. They come to us in good form with some good players in Dan Cornwell, Andrew Ofosu, Marc Abbott and Jack Wilkinson – someone I tried to get here in the summer, so it promises to be an exciting game.”

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