Smith confident fairytale will continue

WALSHAM-le-Willows have gone three points clear at the top of the First Division of the Ridgeons League.And manager Paul Smith is confident the fairytale rise of the village club will continue with a place in the Premier Division next season.

By Elvin King

WALSHAM-le-Willows have gone three points clear at the top of the First Division of the Ridgeons League.

And manager Paul Smith is confident the fairytale rise of the village club will continue with a place in the Premier Division next season.

Just over ten years ago Walsham were playing junior football in the Bury St Edmunds League.

They are now on the verge of rubbing shoulders with the giants of East Anglian football.

Nine wins in their last ten games have seen Walsham take over top spot, and Smith says it is at just the right time.

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“We have eight games left and this is a nice time to go top,” he said. “We don't have to worry about other results and just have to concentrate on our own games.”

Debenham Leisure Centre did Walsham a favour with a weekend win over Swaffham, while Whitton United beat Ely on Wednesday.

“If we finish above Ely we will gain promotion,” added Smith. “Our main aim is to finish in the top three, but to win the title would be the icing on the cake.

“We sat the players down and had a chat a month ago, and said that we needed to be in a challenging position by Easter. They have responded superbly, and these opportunities do not come along very often. We aim to take this one and it would be an amazing achievement for Walsham.”

Smith says that leading Walsham into the top tier of East Anglian football will rank in the top three of his footballing achievements, along with playing in the FA Vase final at Wembley and gaining a high number of coveted medals with Sudbury Town.

“Our success has been based on a strong back four and a reliable goalkeeper in Kevin Bugg and we have conceded fewer goals than any other club in the division,” he added.

“All the squad come from within 15 miles of Walsham and we now have more depth in our squad than the last two seasons when we finished fourth and fifth.”

Walsham should collect three points from a home game with Cornard tomorrow with Stuart Logan having come into the team from the reserves and done well - scoring twice in the 4-0 win over Hadleigh on Wednesday.

It is not only Walsham who are finishing the season strongly, with Haverhill having gone 14 games unbeaten and Saffron Walden 12.

In the Metaltec SIL, leaders Grundisburgh will want to forget the pain of losing Tuesday's Suffolk Senior Cup final to Stowmarket with a win over bottom-of-the-table Cockfield.

Second-placed Haughley are at home to Coplestonians.

Woolverstone United's 8-1 win at Division Five bottom side Bacton Reserves last Saturday has secured them promotion for the second consecutive season.

If Dennington fail to beat Salvation Army they will be relegated from Division Two, while Alstons are going down from Division Three.

Titans, having lost their last 14 matches, must beat fellow league newcomers Shotley to avoid the Division Six wooden spoon. Shotley had lost eight games in a row until last Saturday's 3-3 draw with Peasenhall Reserves.

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