Swans fear facility fault

SOCCER: Victory for Westerfield United in their game against Cockfield tomorrow will take the Swans a big step nearer a return to senior football. But if they do finish in the top two in the First Division of the Metaltec SIL they face a race against time to upgrade their facilities to reach league standards.

By Elvin King

VICTORY for Westerfield United in their game against Cockfield tomorrow will take the Swans a big step nearer a return to senior football.

But if they do finish in the top two in the First Division of the Metaltec SIL they face a race against time to upgrade their facilities to reach league standards.

A new dressing room for the referee and his two assistants will have to be in place during the summer before the SIL will accept Westerfield's promotion.

Their landlords at Rushmere Sports Club will be doing all they can to make sure the building work is done, but it is likely to be a costly exercise.

At the moment and two years ago when Westerfield were last in senior football, the club use a sectioned off area for the match officials to change and shower.

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Under up-dated SIL rules this is no longer good enough for Senior Division sides.

While the club are preparing themselves to make the necessary alterations off the field, the main priority at this precise moment is to gain the four points that will make a top two place a certainty.

Cockfield have dropped out of the running for a promotion place with defeats against AFC Debenham and Framlingham in the last six days, but they can still give Westerfield a tough time.

If the Swans fail to beat Cockfield they still have a second chance with a final match against John Bull to play.

"Our goal difference is a little better than Debenham's so probably one more win will do it for us," said club stalwart Roger Osborne, the former Ipswich Town star who began and ended his playing career with the Swans.

"Westerfield looked as though they had promotion in the bag until a few weeks ago when they hit a sticky patch. Debenham have come up from nowhere.

"It looks as though Crane Sports will win the league, but Westerfield are confident they can finish second."

Osborne's son Robert is a regular in the Westerfield side that beat Framlingham Town 1-0 last Saturday to win the coveted Suffolk Junior Cup.

"After being beaten in last year's final it was a great feeling," added Osborne. "The players stuck together and got their reward.

"Twelve months ago only a victory in the penultimate game saved Westerfield from a drop down to Division Two. Much progress has been made and it will be great to see the club back in the top flight."

Richard Page is manager of a side who will miss leading scorer Jamie Sandilands for their final two games as he is suspended. Captain Robert Greenhalgh and former Scunthorpe midfield player Sean Creaton are struggling with injuries while Daniel Lynch fails to make every game because of university commitments.

Westerfield could have virtually clinched a top two place with a win over Kesgrave and Willis on Tuesday, but they lost 4-3 and are still living on a knife-edge.

Two good wins could still see them win the championship – and then fret about up-grading their facilities in time.

"If they do go up then Westerfield will need to strengthen up as there is a big gap between the First and Senior Divisions, but they have done very well this season," added Osborne.

If John Bull beat Coplestonians tomorrow their top two place will be confirmed. At the other end of the table, BT Hollies have lost their senior status, ground and now their Division One place all inside 12 months.

They will be playing Division Two soccer next season along with Wenhaston.

These two will be replaced by Second Division champions Stowupland and, barring freak results, Ipswich Exiles.

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