Deadly striker duo set to star for the Willows next season

MAKING A MOVE: Andrew Wood battles with Walsham's Andrew Cusack while still turning out for Mildenhall Town last year
MAKING A MOVE: Andrew Wood battles with Walsham's Andrew Cusack while still turning out for Mildenhall Town last year
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Ambitious Walsham-le-Willows are set to pair two of the Thurlow Nunn League’s deadliest strikers after securing the return of Andrew Wood.

The striker, who has also played for Bury Town and Thetford Town, topped the Premier Division’s scoring charts while at Mildenhall Town in 2011/12 with 33 goals and netted another 22 last season before an acrimonious departure from Recreation Way.

He is expected to be joined in attack by Ollie Hughes, who manager Paul Smith expects to keep at Summer Road, despite a stunning 22-goal season that gained the attentions of several clubs in higher leagues.

“They could be the top two strikers in the league on paper,” said Smith, who has also added midfielder Liam Bolton to his squad. “If they get 40 or 45 goals between them, we are heading the right way.”

Meanwhile, league rivals Thetford Town can begin to plan properly for the coming Thurlow Nunn Premier season after their relegation reprieve was confirmed.

The Brecklanders looked set for an immediate return to the First Division after finishing second-bottom last season, but with Dereham’s promotion, Wisbech’s departure and Cambridge University Press not taking up promotion, Mark Scott’s charges have been given a lifeline.

“Until you have that confirmation you can’t really relax so obviously we’re over the moon,” said the manager. “To be honest, even though we expected the news, it still comes as a bit of a relief.

“It was the news we needed and we can now look ahead to our first pre-season game with Wroxham on Wednesday evening knowing things are much brighter.”

Talks with existing players have already begun as the club announced they have re-signed Luke Bailey, Ian Fancett, Nathan Birch, Martin Carter, Luke Catchpole and Ryan Skipp.

Strikers Wayne Proctor and Matt Dixon have also joined, from Mildenhall Town and Diss Town, respectively.

Coming in the door at Mildenhall Town are Aaron Turner and Ricky Cornish from Newmarket Town, the latter as a player-coach.

Hall boss Christian Appleford has also swooped for ex-Bury Town midfielder Craig Nurse and left winger Ben Coe, who scored 33 goals in 37 appearances last season to help Mundford to promotion from Anglian Combination Division Two and the Norfolk Junior Cup final.

Speaking about Coe, who will jump up four leagues, Appleford said: “He’s looked really sharp and could be a real asset.”

Team Bury manager Ross Wilding hopes to bring Joji Kawaguchi – who came through the Blues’ academy with ex-Bury players Scott Chaplin and Sam Nunn – back to the club.

He also believes the addition of reserve sides from AFC Sudbury, Dereham Town and Needham Market to the First Division can only help the standard of football.

“It’s a good thing, though does throw up some different problems,” said Wilding. “It should be done centrally, rather than each league making their own decision on it.”

Red Insure Cup draw:

Preliminary round (w/c Sep 30): Stowmarket Town v Needham Market Reserves.
First round (w/c Oct 28): Downham Town v Mildenhall Town, Halstead Town v Team Bury, Stowmarket/Needham Res v Hadleigh United, Thetford Town v Kirkley and Pakefield, Walsham-le-Willows v Braintree Town Reserves.

First Division Knockout Cup draw

Preliminary round (date TBA): AFC Sudbury Reserves v Needham Market Reserves, Stowmarket Town v Haverhill Borough.

First round (date TBA): Sudbury Res/Needham Res v Whitton United, Long Melford v Stowmarket/Haverhill, Saffron Walden Town v Team Bury.