Sam’s the man for cautious Scopes

MARK Scopes is very quick to point to a team effort to explain the renaissance of Woodbridge Town.

Whether it is his assistants, Marty Thorpe and Paul Leech, or his physio David White, the Town boss says everyone has played their part in a run of nine wins from 13 games bringing mid-table security.

Asking him to pick out star players is less easy. But one look at the statistics tells it own story. During the first dozen league matches, a whopping 38 goals were conceded. But the next 13 matches has seen just 15 scored by the opposition.

This dramatic swing coincided with the signing of centre back Mark Roper from Hadleigh and when pushed, Scopes admits the arrival made a big difference to everyone.

The manager said: “I don’t think you can just blame the defence for our start - I have always been someone who believes defending begins as soon as you lose the ball, wherever it is on the pitch. We looked at our approach to defending and tactically looked at our overall play, rather than just game-by-game.

“We brought in Mark and he has helped put more belief into the other players around him. They all had the ability, they just needed one person to act as a catalyst.”

But while helping to reduce the goals against - which still stands as the third worst in the Ridgeons League Premier Division - Scopes does not hail Roper as his best signing. That honour goes to veteran striker Sam Banya, though fellow frontman James Hubbard and Roper must run him close.

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Scopes said: “With Sam, it is not just about his goals (currently seven). It is his general enthusiasm and hunger for playing and the great impact he is having on the youngsters. We played him in the reserves when we didn’t have a match on the Saturday and he was exactly the same.”

After a difficult pre-season, including reducing the playing budget to “ridiculous” levels, a cautious Scopes insists survival is the only priority this season.

He said: “The decision was made in the summer that we were not going to pay a lot of money for players. This of course meant we lost some players and had to play some youngsters at the start, when we had a difficult run of fixtures.

“But I still maintain that we were not playing as badly as the results suggested. Now our aim is to make sure we beat or draw against the teams below us and stay away from the relegation spots.”

Woodbridge travel to struggling Walsham Le Willows tomorrow afternoon. The club have also confirmed that their match against Histon Reserves next Wednesday night, February 9, has been postponed.

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