Morsley tipping Brantham to do well
MARK Morsley is tipping Brantham Athletic to be the surprise packet in the Ridgeons League this season.
Morsley, who led Leiston to the title last season and was general manager at Needham Market when they finished top 12 months before, knows the league better than most.
He said: “I expect Brantham to do well this season. If you take out the first third of last season when Ollie Mann didn’t play and was still regaining full fitness, Brantham were a poor side.
“But after that they were more like a top-five side. They may just be a surprise packet this season.
“They have a good spine to the team; Ryan Bedingfield is a good goalkeeper, they have signed Matt Stace to play at the back alongside Thomas Wray and Adam Bloss, Marc Lowe is an experienced player in midfield and of course they have Ollie Mann and Lee Grimwood upfront.”
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Indeed, Mann’s goalscoring exploits - he netted 41 times in the league - fired Brantham, who initially looked like they may face a relegation battle upon their return to the top flight, to a 13th-placed finish.
If he can replicate the form that saw a string of scouts run the rule over him in the second half of the season – and he’s confident he can – then Morsley’s prediction may prove spot on.
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With last season’s pre-season favourites Leiston winning the league in some style and with it promotion to Step 4, the league has certainly lost some big hitters in recent seasons.
Gone are the likes of AFC Sudbury, Histon, Lowestoft Town, Needham Market and Soham Town Rangers.
That leaves Wroxham as the sole surviving Premier Division side to have lifted the championship (Division One Halstead enjoyed a double success in 1995 and 1996) for 20 years!
The previous remaining winners were Wisbech in the 1990-91 campaign – and they are one of the favourites in the eye of some observers to claim the title this season.
Dereham led the table throughout the first half of last season as Leiston played catch-up – and Morsley expects them to do well again.
“It is a very open league, but if Dereham can repeat the form of last season they would have to be my favourites. They started well and finished well, but had a blip inbetween.
“Dereham are out on a limb geographically like Lowestoft, but have not got their financial backing and fan base to fund a move up the leagues. However, if they maintain their side from last season they will be the team to beat.
“Wroxham have had a few changes, but they are always difficult to beat at home and won’t be far away, while I was also impressed by Mildenhall last season. I also expect promoted Gorleston to be a force this season,” he added.