Thurlow Nunn preview: Walsham face tough start

WALSHAM-LE-WILLOWS manager Paul Smith believes his side are capable of being a top 10 side this season, if they can negotiate a tricky start.

The Summer Road outfit kick off their Thurlow Nunn Premier Division campaign at Wisbech Town tomorrow (3pm), a side who finished fourth last season.

And Smith believes they could not have been handed a tougher opening, with a side he believes will go on to win the league quickly followed by a trip to last season’s sixth-placed side Woodbridge Town on Wednesday (7.45pm).

With the end of their pre-season campaign hindered by cancellations from opponents Witham Town and then replacements Cornard United on Saturday, Smith was preparing his side with a game against their reserves.

The club are still in negotiations with left-back Tom Agricole over him becoming their second signing of the summer, but is also talking to other clubs.

Ex-Ipswich Town player Gavin Johnson has returned to the Willows after a season with Needham Market in the Ryman League Division One North and Smith believes he will be a vital addition to help tighten up their defence, having shipped too many goals last season as they finished 17th.

“He will be a great asset,” he said.

Smith has been working hard on boosting the fitness of his almost unchanged squad, only losing defender Ben Soanes to Diss Town, to prevent a pattern of conceding late goals.

Smith, who is still looking to add a striker once players decide to move on if they are not getting a regular place, said: “I said to the boys a top 10 finished is at least what we want.

“We have the players to do it now and we proved that after Christmas to the end of the season where we would have been third in the league.”

But the Willows, who have been handed a glamour home tie with Ipswich Town in the Suffolk Premier Cup on October 9, after the Championship side re-entered a team into the competition, will need to build a better start than in 2010/11, where they lost their first five games.