THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Although no side from the league has won the national competition since Diss Town in 1994, they have consitently reached the latter stages, including Hadleigh United — who knocked the Willows out on their way to the quarter-finals — last season.
Walsham warmed up for their home second-round tie with Essex Senior League Premier Division high-flyers Haringey Borough tomorrow (3pm) by thrashing Ely City 4-0, courtesy of a hat-trick from Jack Brame and a further strike by Chris McLaughlin.
“It’s massive for us and that’s why it was important we put the performance in against Ely, kept a clean sheet and won the game,” said Smith, who hopes to welcome back James Tatham and Shaun Thorrold tomorrow. “Hopefully we can take that into the Vase game and we know, on our day, we can beat anybody at home.
“Teams from our league always have a good run in the Vase and we have to keep believing we can keep on going as far as we can.”
The winners of tomorrow’s tie will not only earn themselves a place in the last 64 — the first time Walsham would have reached that stage — but £1,200 in prize money as well.
At struggling Ely’s Unwin Ground in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division on Saturday, Walsham almost fell behind in the first minute when Adam Murray blazed high and wide from a good position, but they found their feet and took a 15th-minute lead through Brame.
The diminutive striker won a corner when denied by the outstretched leg of Ely goalkeeper Lee Pacey and then headed in the resultant set piece, climbing above his much taller opponents to meet Paul Musgrove’s inswinging delivery from the left and find the top right corner of the net.
Pacey had to be alert to keep out Matt Morton and Brame, but Walsham’s second arrived nine minutes before the interval when Ryan Foster produced a perfectly-weighted pass to release Brame from the halfway line to run clear and slide the ball home under Pacey.
Although Ely began the second half as the better side, with Meechan forcing McAnally into a smart stop, Walsham broke immediately and Brame found the bottom left corner from close range to clinch his hat-trick.
The hosts were unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet through a series of fine goalkeeping by McAnally, poor finishing and a goalline block by Andrew Cusack, but the result was sealed a minute from time when McLaughlin robbed Chris Sterecki in the Ely defender’s own penalty area and converted calmly.
Walsham: McAnally, Morton, Cusack, Newman, Clarke, McLaughlin, Sim, Foster (Robinson 75), BRAME (Wood 68), Musgrove (Bolton 68), Agricole.