Smith's Walsham will be team to beat

SOCCER: Walsham's two wins from their first two matches has re-enforced manager Paul Smith's views that he was right to turn down a move to Jewson League Diss Town.

By Elvin King

SOCCER

WALSHAM'S two wins from their first two matches has re-enforced manager Paul Smith's views that he was right to turn down a move to Jewson League Diss Town.

Smith, who was sent off in Tuesday's victory over rivals Haughley United, does not rule out the chances of him staying with the Metaltec SIL Senior Division club in 2003/04.

The 42-year-old, who has served Suffolk football so well for many years, said last May that he was likely to hang up his boots and concentrate on management.

But he has started in both Walsham's league games, and is expected to continue in Tuesday's home match against Stonham. Walsham have no game tomorrow.

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"I trained during the summer as I knew there would be holidays at this time of year," said Smith today. "Things went well and I enjoyed it, but I don't expect to pick myself every game."

Smith is likely to receive a ban after being dismissed for foul language in midweek. "It was a hot day and the incident happened in the heat of the moment. The referee was being assessed," added Smith. "I believe referees have been asked to become stricter on

language this season."

It was only the third time Smith has been sent off in a career that saw him score goals aplenty in the Jewson League before dropping down to become player-manager at Walsham.

Assisted by Don James, he led Walsham to the championship last May and his club are favourites to win the title this time round.

"The summer move to Diss to work with manager Robert Fleck was not the right career move at the time," said Smith. "Ideally, I would like to move up at the end of this campaign, but it might not happen.

"I will look at any offers at the time and make a decision then."

The one major trophy Smith has not won is the Suffolk Senior Cup and he is pleased that Walsham have been given a bye in the first round.

"I have not even had a home draw with Walsham," said Smith. "You need some luck to win cups, and hopefully we will get some this time round."

Talking about the league, he added: "It will be that much harder because every team we play will want to try to beat the champions. All our matches will be like cup ties.

"I see Haughley and Ipswich Athletic as Walsham's main rivals, but it may be something of a transitional season for Grundisburgh who are going through a rebuilding process."

Smith, who scored 25 goals last season, has maintained his enthusiasm and other clubs will have to watch out.

Suffolk Senior Cup draw

First round (To be played Saturday October 12): Achilles v Leiston St Margaret's FC, Felixstowe and Walton United Reserves v Haughley United, Beccles Town v Cornard United, Westerfield United v Stowmarket Town Reserves, East Bergholt United v Ipswich Athletic, Crane Sports v AFC Sudbury Reserves, Bramford United v Brandon Town, Capel Plough v Tuddenham Rovers, Woodbridge Athletic v Stanton FC, Leiston FC v Needham Market, Hadleigh United v Kirkley FC, Whitton United v Grundisburgh FC, Long Melford v Lowestoft Town Reserves, Stonham Aspal v Haverhill Rovers, Old Newton United v Melton St Audry's. Bye – Walsham Le Willows.

Suffolk Premier Cup draw

Preliminary round (To be played before September 30): Mildenhall Town v Woodbridge Town. First round (To be played on October 22 or 23): AFC Sudbury v Stowmarket Town, Lowestoft Town v Ipswich Wanderers, Bury Town 95 v Mildenhall Town or Woodbridge Town, Newmarket Town v Felixstowe and Walton United.

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