Clarke makes permanent Willows switch

WELCOME RETURN: Nathan Clarke, in action for Needham Market, has made a full-time switch back to Walsham-le-Willows
WELCOME RETURN: Nathan Clarke, in action for Needham Market, has made a full-time switch back to Walsham-le-Willows

Nathan Clarke has sealed a permanent return to Walsham-le-Willows having spent time on loan with the club last season.

Manager Paul Smith confirmed this week that the 23-year-old centre-half, who has featured in the Ryman League Division One North with AFC Sudbury and Needham Market, has put pen to paper on a full-time switch to the Summer Road-based outfit, to become the club’s third summer-signing, following striker Andrew Wood and midfielder Liam Bolton.

And while expressing his delight at the capture of Clarke, the manager, whose side travel to Wroxham tomorrow (3pm), conceded potential deals for defenders Lewis Pemberton, from Felixstowe and Walton United, and former Bury Town veteran defender Ruscoe Hipperson, remain uncertain.

“Nathan Clarke has put pen to paper and we’re delighted to have him back at the club,” said the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division club’s manager.

“He is a very good player and will certainly strengthen up our back four.

“He saw how well we did last season and wanted to be part of that and we feel he can add to what we already have.

“It’s great for us to be able to strengthen at both ends as well and have a bit more depth in the squad.

“That was a major factor last season where we had a strong 11 or 12 but just didn’t have that depth to be able to rotate, which I think cost us challenging for the title in the end. Roscoe has been away from football for a year but we would definitely be interested in him.

“However, I think he is some way off being fully fit and making a decision.

“We have left any decision to sign with Lewis and could possibly hear back this week. I think he has some strong ties at Felixstowe and might find it hard to leave.”

Elsewhere, Thurlow Nunn Premier Division rivals Mildenhall Town go into tomorrow’s friendly home encounter against Deeping Rangers (3pm) on the back of a morale-boosting draw with Needham Market.

Christian Appleford’s charges had to come from two goals down as Jamie Guy and David Wareham gave the visitors a commanding first-half lead, before a superb comeback saw Michael Harvey and Kris Thomas strike late on to draw level.

The Recreation Way-based outfit follow the visit of Rangers by entertaining another Ryman League Division One North outfit in the form of Richard Wilkins’ Bury Town on Tuesday night (7.45pm).

Thetford Town saw Tuesday’s friendly match against Redgate Rangers abandoned with 12 minutes remaining due to a serious injury to Rangers’ Tom Doughty, with the Brecklanders leading 2-1 at the time.

Mark Scott’s side were due to face Lowestoft Town at Mundford Road last night.

Meanwhile, Stowmarket Town have endured a mixed pre-season campaign, recovering from an emphatic 7-0 defeat to Needham Market Reserves, to claim a 1-1 draw with Soham Town Rangers and overcome AFC Crowley 2-0, courtesy of goals from Yani Ducka and Joe Revell.

But on Wednesday night they were beaten 4-2 at home to West Wratting.

The club will be looking to bounce back when they welcome Stansted to Greens Meadow tomorrow (3pm).

And finally, Team Bury are gearing up for a busy schedule in the coming weeks starting with a match against Lakenheath Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).

Ross Wilding’s side will then follow that up by facing Diss Town on Friday (7.45pm) and Haverhill Borough the following Tuesday (August 6), again kicking off at 7.45pm.

n Needham Market Reserves have been accepted into the upcoming season’s Suffolk Senior Cup, with the opening draw taking place tonight on BBC Radio Suffolk’s evening sports show.