All pictures courtesy of Rob Smith (RJS Photography)

FC CLACTON manager Tom Austin has challenged his players to stay unbeaten throughout January.

The Seasiders began the new year with an impressive performance and result against Ely City, on Saturday.

They ran out 3-1 winners in the Thurlow Nunn League premier division fixture, coming from behind at the Rush Green Bowl thanks to goals from Harry McDonald, Jake Plane and Matt Eve.

It lifted them to 14th in the table heading into this weekend’s trip to Long Melford – two places below but level with them on 24 points.

“We really needed a win so it was just what the doctor ordered,” said Austin.

“We played very well and it could have been 5-1.

“That wouldn’t have flattered us.

“As I said last week, it’s a winnable run of games this month and I’ve challenged the lads to stay unbeaten throughout January.

“If we can do that, and keep winning our games in hand, we can put ourselves in a very decent position.”

Clacton’s other January fixtures are at home to Norwich United and Whitton United, on the 19th and 26th respectively.

Austin’s men bounced back from two defeats to sink Ely.

They had to do it the hard way, though, after Alex Brown put the visitors ahead. McDonald’s 31st-minute strike cancelled that out and Clacton took the lead two minutes later when Plane fired home and a Eve goal after the break wrapped up an excellent day for the Seasiders.

Meanwhile, Austin has spoken of his disappointment following Plane’s decision to join Thurlow Nunn League rivals Brantham Athletic.

The move was confirmed on Sunday.

Austin admitted it was a major setback but said his club were unable to compete with the terms being offered.

“It’s a kick in the teeth, if I’m honest, and I’m personally disappointed because I’ve watched Jake grow up, since he was 16 or 17,” he said.

“In that time he’s become a seriously good player.

“His deliveries into the box are second to none, his distribution is good and he’s added goals to his game.

“It’s a shame he’s not moving higher up the pyramid, rather than to another club in our league, but I understand his reasons and can’t blame him.

“I know it was a very hard decision for Jake.

“He’s always been loyal to me but couldn’t turn this offer down.

“I’m grateful for all that's done and wish him the very best of luck at Brantham.”

Austin is also losing the services of Eve as the striker is going travelling. His last game will be the Norwich clash on January 19.

“We’re about to lose our two top goal-scorers and need to replace them,” added Austin.

“The positive is that it opens the door for someone else.

“It means there’s a big opportunity for our attacking players to step up to the plate.”