THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Mildenhall Town 1
Stanway Rovers 0
As you would expect from any manager whose side have played just 20 games, Dean Greygoose is reluctant to be drawn into talk of league titles being won.
That, he stresses, is for other people to discuss while he concentrates on the job in hand.
But privately, the Mildenhall boss must be excited at the prospect of his side lifting the trophy come the end of the season after their 1-0 victory over second-placed Stanway on Saturday.
The win — Hall’s 19th of the campaign — has stretched their lead to 13 points, with Greygoose’s table-toppers also able to boast two games in hand on the visitors from Essex.
And on top of that, the Suffolk outfit are now on 57 points — five more than they accrued during the whole of 2014-15 and only seven shy of their tally from last term when finishing sixth.
“I have got a lot of confidence in my players, that is why I have not signed anyone for a few months,” said the Hall chief.
“The squad is a good, honest bunch and we are just going to give our best, but there is a long way to go.
“It is up to other people to talk about whether or not we will win the league.
“From my point of view, I believe we can get even better. There is maybe another 20 per cent to come from us.”
The heavy rain, which persisted throughout, meant it was never going to be a classic encounter between the league’s top two teams.
Consequently, it felt like a clash that was going to be decided by one goal, and so it proved as Chris Bacon pounced in the 53rd minute after an error from Stanway goalkeeper Nick Punter.
However, it could have been a much different affair after just 40 seconds when Mildenhall centre-back Rob Ruddy found himself completely unmarked inside the Stanway box, only to send his header from Stephen Spriggs’ corner well wide.
Ruddy, though, was more effective up the other end in the 15th minute when he was part of a Mildenhall rearguard that managed to scramble clear Mekhi McKenzie’s point-blank effort.
The only other two chances of note during the first half fell to Bacon, one of which was palmed to safety by Punter, while the other he headed over from six yards out on the stroke of the interval.
But he did not have to wait much longer for his ninth goal of the season, although it is a moment that Punter will not look back on with great fondness.
After racing outside of his box to cut out a through-ball, Stanway’s gloveman was quickly put under pressure by Spriggs and scuffed his clearance straight to Luke Parkinson 35 yards from goal.
Whether the Mildenhall winger was going for goal or not only he will know, but nevertheless the ball was hoisted into the danger area, where Bacon was lurking to apply the finishing touch with Punter still desperately trying to make up ground.
The trend for the remainder of the game centred around Stanway seeking an equalising goal via the set-piece route.
Yet, while Craig Hughes swung in several dangerous deliveries, Mildenhall goalkeeper Josh Pope and those in front of him stood firm.
On the one occasion the ball did break kindly for Stanway substitute Zach Walter, he drove his shot into the side netting.
On his team’s display, Greygoose said: “What we can do is adapt well to the conditions.
“Today, you could not play football out there — the players could hardly stand up.
“The first half was a battle and it was just about us not making a mistake.
“When it opened up a little bit in the second half, we were probably not clinical enough, whether that is shooting or the final pass.
“We had to defend brilliantly from set plays because they had a lot. Our goalkeeper and back four were great all game.
“All the boys put in everything. They have had to show some real character and we deserved to win.”
Mildenhall: Pope, Asensi, Butcher, Ruddy, Cooper (Tolliday 82), Simpson, Green, Parkinson, J Brown, Spriggs, Bacon (D Brown 74)
Journal Man of th e Match: Gareth Simpson
n Mildenhall were due to continue the defence of their League Challenge Cup crown on Tuesday night in the last 16 against Downham Town, but the tie was postponed due to the Recreation Way playing surface being unfit following the recent wet weather.
As yet, the game against the First Division side from Norfolk has not been given a new date.
n Mildenhall are back in league action on Saturday when Haverhill Rovers will be looking to stop them from posting their 20th league win of 2016/17 (3pm).
When the sides met earlier in the campaign, Hall won 2-1 thanks to goals from Luke Parkinson and Dan Brown, the latter of which was scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time.