Debenham gear up for crucial run

IT has been a season of so near but so far for Debenham Leisure Centre, and joint manager Mel Aldis fears they may just lose out on promotion as well.Beaten in the semi-finals of both the Ridgeons League Cup the Touchline Sports Suffolk Senior Cup, Debenham go into tomorrow's home game with Yarmouth seventh in the First Division.

By Elvin King

IT has been a season of so near but so far for Debenham Leisure Centre, and joint manager Mel Aldis fears they may just lose out on promotion as well.

Beaten in the semi-final of the Ridgeons League Cup by Lowestoft Town and in the semi-final of the Touchline Sports Suffolk Senior Cup by Grundisburgh, Debenham go into tomorrow's home game with Yarmouth seventh in the First Division.

“Realistically it is looking as though we will not make the top three,” said Aldis. “To move right up the table, we cannot afford to drop many more points.

“It is a critical period for us as we have a run of fixtures that could see us fall away into mid-table mediocrity - or possibly make a move upwards.”

After tomorrow's game against a team that they have never beaten, Debenham have a home fixture on Tuesday with Aldis' former club Stowmarket Town - the side they would have met at Portman Road in the Senior Cup final if they had beaten Metaltec SIL Grundisburgh.

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“We have no complaints as we did not play as well as we can on the day,” added Aldis. “It was a body blow to lose in the 94th minute, and I think if we had gone into extra time we would have won.

“But Grundisburgh are a good side and every one of their players could hold their own in the First Division of the Ridgeons League.”

Debenham drew 1-1 at March on Tuesday, when they missed chances to have come home with three points.

“But at least we were making chances again,” said Aldis, who is joint manager with Trevor Wardlaw.

“We have made strides this season, and we are still a young club at this level.

“During the summer, the plan is to bring in a couple of experienced players, and we will have serious stab at promotion again.

“I am not ruling promotion out this season yet, but it is looking unlikely.”

Lee Briggs has been out since September 2005 with a knee problem that necessitated an operation, but the free-scoring striker is now back after coming through a number of reserve games.

Hadleigh, one place above Debenham, are at home to fourth-placed Saffron Walden, while Walsham-le-Willows will go second if they win at Ely - the club currently just above them in the table.

Stowmarket are at home to a Haverhill side that still have their eyes on promotion.

In the Premier Division, Felixstowe and Walton will be looking to get back to winning ways with a home fixture against Kirkley.

Their task is not an easy one, but it looks on paper to be easier than the ones facing Needham Market and Woodbridge Town.

The former travel to a Lowestoft side who have eight games in hand over their Suffolk rivals. Needham have lost nine matches to Lowestoft's three, yet are 16 points ahead of them in the table!

Woodbridge are on their travels to leaders Mildenhall, who now have Wroxham breathing down their necks.

Joe Francis will be a threat to the home team, and so will Paul Berry and Allicion Blake.

Ipswich Wanderers are at Halstead, who parted company with Ipswich-based manager Tony Kinsella this week. Jamie Alsop will make his debut at left-back for Wanderers.

Jason Dozzell's Leiston are away to Histon Reserves.

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