Smith’s sights set on a surge up table

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WALSHAM-LE-WILLOWS manager Paul Smith is adamant the club can rise up the Ridgeons League Premier Division table after surprising back-to-back victories over table-topping opposition.

The Willows defeated second-place Brantham Athletic 3-0 on New Year’s Eve and then followed it up by inflicting Wroxham’s third loss of the season in the 3-2 home victory against the league leaders.

But Paul Smith’s team are still having to battle out of the relegation zone despite being one place and a point off the bottom three following a Boxing Day defeat at local rivals Diss Town. However, the club do have games in hand over the clubs below them in the bottom three.

Smith said: “We are near the bottom of the table for a reason, the league table doesn’t lie. But with the players I have, I know we’re capable of a mid-table finish.

“If somebody said at Christmas time that we would get six points out of those two games, I would’ve been very surprised. But we had been playing reasonably well before the victories, so hopefully we can keep this up because there is renewed confidence in the team.”

Walsham travel to third-placed Ely City tomorrow (3pm) to complete their run of games against the top three teams in the division. But Smith is wary of complacency when asked about the prospect of a third consecutive victory, especially since Ely are unbeaten at home this season.

“Ely are a difficult team to play,” he said. “They are very direct and they can get balls in the box, so it is going to be hard to get something there but we can do it.”

Smith could ask for advice from Mildenhall Town manager Christian Appleford, who watched his team narrowly lose to Ely in a hard-fought 1-0 away loss.

Mildenhall are currently in the mid-table position Walsham aspire to, but Town have also been in good form, having lost once in their last four games.

Town host Cambridge Regional College (CRC) tomorrow (3pm), who are three points ahead of Mildenhall in the table.

Meanwhile, in the Ridgeons First Division, Team Bury are in action away to Fakenham Town (3pm). Bury moved away from the bottom three after their recent 4-0 victory over Stowmarket Town, who remain rooted to the foot of the table.

Fakenham beat March Town United in a close 3-2 encounter in their previous game and will look to extend their lead over Bury in the table.

Stowmarket and First Division leaders Thetford Town are not in action this weekend.