Smith’s looking forward as Walsham ‘beat drop’

BREATHING SPACE: Paul Smith
BREATHING SPACE: Paul Smith
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WALSHAM-LE-WILLOWS boss Paul Smith has started to look ahead to next season after admitting his Ridgeons League Premier Division relegation fears are as good as gone.

The Willows moved six points clear of the drop zone on Wednesday night after strikes from Jack Brame, Paul Musgrove, Andy Cusack, Tom Fenner and an own goal ensured an emphatic 5-0 victory over bottom-of-the-league Great Yarmouth Town, a third straight league victory for Smith’s men.

Walsham entertain eighth-placed Dereham Town at Summer Road tomorrow (3pm) and with their opposition struggling, having lost their last three league matches, Smith is confident of beating the Magpies for the first time in his managerial career, as he looks to maintain their winning streak.

“Realistically now Wivenhoe need to get seven points just to climb above us and I honestly can’t see them getting that many,” he said.

“I believe we can start looking to next year now because the relegation fears are as good as gone for me. Dereham are a strong team and the only team as a manager I haven’t beaten in this division so that is the incentive for me.

“We have the home advantage, we have won the last three matches on the bounce and we couldn’t be more confident than we are at the moment.”

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Mildenhall Town manager Christian Appleford will be hoping to build on Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Gorleston when they host a resurgent Diss Town tomorrow (3pm), with the Tangerines having won their last five league games partly thanks to the signing of veteran ex-Hall striker Stuart Jopling.

Stowmarket Town manager Shane Austin hopes his side can put a strong run together at the end of the season to avoid finishing bottom of the Ridgeons League First Division.

Stow gained just their second win since last August by defeating Halstead Town 2-1 on Saturday and five of their last six games are against teams in the bottom half, starting with the visit of Swaffham Town to Greens Meadow tomorrow (3pm), before a trip to Long Melford on Wednesday (7.45pm).

Elsewhere in the First Division, Thetford Town will be expected to pick up their 20th league win of the campaign when they travel to bottom club Cornard United tomorrow (3pm), a side they beat 10-0 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

Manager Mark Scott, who will rest some players tomorrow, said: “We have to do a professional job and get the win at all costs, and it would be good if we can increase our goal difference because it could be crucial.”

Thetford will also be hoping Team Bury do them a favour when Godmanchester Rovers visit Ram Meadow tomorrow (3pm).

Team Bury – who beat Ipswich Wanderers 2-0 on Saturday to maintain 10th thanks to goals from Josh Curry and Harry Barker – will be looking for their sixth win in eight league games.

The Blues were knocked out 4-3 after extra-time in the quarter-finals of the First Division Knockout Cup by Cambridge University Press, having led 3-1 with about 10 minutes to go through Zehnn Young, Harry Barker and Liam Wales.

Manager Ross Wilding said: “It was a massive opportunity and the lads were absolutely distraught after the game.”

To make matters worse for Bury, they look set to be without top scorer Adam Burroughs for the rest of the season after he was carried off with an Achilles injury during the cup tie.