Touchline Suffolk and Ipswich League Predictions - Lee Osborn’s men have no Achilles heel
- Credit: Archant
The Touchline Suffolk & Ipswich Football League Senior Division got off to a frantic opening start yesterday, sports writer WILL RIDGARD takes a look at what can be expected in the ever-competitive league.
Lee Osborn’s men made history last campaign as they ended their 26-year wait to re-establish themselves as League champions. Leading the charge from virtually the first kick of the 2013/14 season, the close-knit bunch never looked back. And now with the league’s top goalscorer last season in Dean Tournay-Godfrey on board, Osborn’s men are still very much the team to beat. Tournay-Godfrey netted 32 times for Grundisburgh last year and if he can form a partnership with Andy Coote upfront, Achilles could well be celebrating again.
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Having scored 107 goals and lost just once on their way to promotion from Division One last season, new boys Bramford look like they mean business. Another close-knit and physical outfit, Bramford have goals throughout the side – with key trio Kieran Dilloway, Paul Dodsworth, and Daryl Alexander scoring 71 goals between them last term.
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A fine start to the season which wielded eight wins from 11 last time out saw Capel as surprise early title-chasers. A barren spell over the Christmas and waterlogged winter months saw Plough fall off the pace but they still managed a decent season - finishing in a creditable fifth place. Another I can see them again being involved in that fight for the ‘Europa League’ places.
The 2013/14 season was quite a season for Claydon FC. After only winning promotion to Division One the season before, the Ipswich-based side achieved the unthinkable by finishing runners-up – and in doing so winning promotion to the Senior League. After playing catch-up for the majority of the season, Claydon overtook a tumbling Henley Athletic side who had led the charge for the majority of the season - with Claydon going up on goal difference. As well as this success, they progressed all the way to the Junior Cup final - where they were defeated 2-1 to holders Oulton Broad. Such success should inspire them to a solid season.
Third highest goalscorers with 91 goals last time out, Cranes are always a dangerous side to play. Throwing caution to the wind, Iain Radnor’s men just love to play attacking football – even if they do ship a few in at the back. Fourth last time, they’ll be sure to be loitering around those positions again with top scorer Tye Webb (26 goals in 22 appearances) looking to fire his side to success.
A seasoned side at this level, Bergholt got off to a slow start last season but recovered well. David Goodchild’s men have enjoyed a fine pre-season and if they can hit the ground running, and add more of a goal-threat they could force themselves a little higher up the league this time. Like in 2013/14, they will hope for another Cup run - with last season’s achievement of runners-up in the Bob Coleman Cup still fond in their memories.
Felixstowe Harpers Utd
It’s all been going on at Felixstowe Harpers United this summer with Ian Watson persuading some big-name signings to jump on board. Experienced holding midfielder Andy Crump has joined from neighbours Felixstowe & Walton as well as highly-rated Brantham Athletic trio Matt Ryland, and brothers David and Lee Grimwood. With Dan Pryke also signing on the dotted line, it’s fair to say Harpers will undoubtedly be a force this season.
Like Felixstowe, it’s all been going on at Grundisburgh this summer with virtually wholesale changes in personnel on and off the field. After leading the side to numerous league and cup successes, well-respected management duo Micky Squirrel and Steven Moore have opted to step down as Grundisburgh enter a new era under a new chairman. A difficult pre-season which has seen a mass exodus of players leave including top scorer Tournay-Godfrey as well as several key personnel including Josh Kerridge and Mical Moore, still leaves everyone guessing at just how the ‘SIL giants’ will fare this season.
Jason Cook is the new man in charge of Haughley following Steve Double’s departure and they should be fairly solid again after an impressive season last time as they finished seventh.
Ipswich Valley Rangers
Never write IVR off. A quiet season by their high standards last time, Valley Rangers will be eager to make up for such disappointment as they fell way off the pace. With the signings of James Blades as well as brothers Adam and Luke Webster from Leiston St Margarets they should be better prepared for a challenge this time.
Leiston St Margarets
Another club who have seen wholesale changes this summer - there’s certainly never a dull moment at Saints. Former skipper Gary Lambert returns alongside old favourite Matt Murphy to take up the managerial hot-seat following Mark Banthorpe’s departure, and practically the whole of the first-team squad. Lambert and Murphy have been busy trying to get the ‘Leiston’ back into St Margarets with a good blend of experienced and young local players committing – and although they might struggle, their team spirit could play a big part in the battle to come.
Melton St Audrys
After winning just a paltry five league games in eight long months and 26 attempts, Saints were rooted to the bottom of the Senior Division and seemingly preparing for life in Division One. Then something masterful happened as Paul Ray temporarily took over, and inspired by the challenge, the players rallied to win their last four games in a row and stay up with a point to spare - with Matt Hough’s final day double over Crane Sports leaving everyone questioning ‘Just Hough did they do it?’. After losing a clutch of players to Wickham Market among others, it looks to be another season of fighting relegation for Melton but some fresh new faces might put them in good stead.
Only a last day 6-1 annihilation of Leiston St Margarets saved Stanton from the drop last season after slowly slipping their way into the relegation dogfight. With the two promoted sides seemingly strong options, maybe Stanton’s time in the Senior Division could run out?
Prediction: 15th. Relegated.
A solid first season at Senior level last time out, Wenhaston should do exactly the same this time round. Another close-knit and hard to beat outfit under the guidance of former Leiston manager Carl Chenery, they’ll be difficult opponents for others to face.
Fortunate to escape last campaign, this season looks to be another daunting one for Westerfield.
A side who have always been a bit of a ‘yoyo’ side between the top two divisions, they might just fall down again this time.
Prediction: 16th. Relegated.
A club going places, Wickham have big ambitions this season. Had a slow start and a disappointing end to their sixth-placed finish last season. Central midfielder Karl Wilson will prove a useful addition to them from the incoming Melton contingent, as will Joe Fairbrother, and the re-signing of top goalscorer Sam Taylor – who scored 23 league goals in 2013/14. In goalkeeper Louis Johnson, they undoubtedly have a top-class goalkeeper who is renown over the county for being one of Suffolk’s best in his position.
2 Felixstowe Harpers
3 Ipswich Valley Rangers
4 Wickham Market
5 Crane Sports
6 Bramford United
7 Capel Plough
8 Wenhaston United
9 East Bergholt
10 Haughley United
13 Leiston St Margarets
14 Melton St Audrys
16 Westerfield United