Manager pinpoints ‘huge month’ ahead

STUART Crawford set his sights on a top-eight finish in the Ridgeons League this season after taking over as manager of Hadleigh United.

And after three wins and a draw in their last four matches Hadleigh have moved up to ninth place in the Premier Division – and they have games in hand on sides around them.

Just over a year ago Crawford was still a Hadleigh United player, before he sustained a cruciate knee ligament injury – the second of his career – in what was the club’s first season back in the top flight after a 12-year absence.

Crawford, who played for a host of Ridgeons League sides, starting and ending his career with home-town club Hadleigh, decided it was time to hang up his boots. The 30-year-old took over as boss of the Brettsiders in the summer after Hadleigh parted company with Peter Grant after just one season in charge.

He immediately set about strengthening the squad, signing a whole host of players in an attempt to field a more competitive side this season.

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Signings included Brett Girling and Paul Hart from Leiston, Debenham LC duo Mark Powling and Warren Taylor-Holt, Duane Wright and Luke Read (both Felixstowe & Walton United), strikers Josh Mayhew (Woodbridge Town) and Ben Deacon (Mildenhall Town) and Cornard United’s Simon Hyde.

Crawford, who brought the vastly-experienced Alan Dilloway in as his assistant, had a first-team squad of around 25 players signed on when the season got under way last August.

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Inevitably several players have since moved on, while Hart, Powling and Taylor-Holt made just a handful of appearances between them before all succumbing to long-term injuries.

However, Stuart Crawford is happy with the squad currently at his disposal – and believes the club remains on course to achieve his objective of a top-eight finish.

“November has been a good month for us with 10 points out of the last 12, and we now have a huge month coming up in December,” he said.

Wednesday night’s match at CRC and Saturday’s visit of Woodbridge Town, the division’s in-form side, were both victims of the elements, but Hadleigh are due to face Leiston, Great Yarmouth Town and Haverhill Rovers away while Felixstowe & Walton United are visitors to the Millfield.

Crawford said: “We have some difficult fixtures coming up this month, but if we can get through it with a half-decent points tally, we will be looking good for the New Year.”

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