Acle are steeling themselves for the hectic run-in which will determine their chances of lifting the Sterry Cup for the first time ever.

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Martyn Sinclair and Tony Ward’s outfit poked their noses in front for the first time as the three-horse battle for the Anglian Combination’s Premier prize took a surprise twist, with last season’s runaway champions Cromer dropping to second on ogal difference after a draw with St Andrews.

But with a demanding run-in of nine games in the month or so ahead – including two against Cromer – life at the top won’t be going to the Broadland outfit’s players’ heads.

“I would be lying if I said it was not a nice feeling to be top but we always try to play things down a bit at Acle,” said Sinclair.

After weeks of going about their business under the radar, with games in hand because of cup exploits, Acle grabbed pole position with a 3-1 win over Hempnall, at their fortress-like Bridewell Lane ground where they boast a perfect league record of 11 wins.

Indeed Acle’s defeat by Kirkley and Pakefield Reserves in October is the only reverse they have suffered in the league. Defeats by King’s Lynn in the Norfolk Senior Cup quarter-final and Norwich St Johns in the Mummery Cup semi-final, are the only other blemishes on a season of all-round progress so far.

“You will never hear us saying that we are going to win the Sterry Cup. We know it’s going to be tough,” said Sinclair.

“We have found things that little bit more difficult in recent weeks because teams have seen us near the top and it really seems to have incentivised them to try and spoil our day.”

The games will come thick and fast for Acle, with regular Saturday and midweek action placing maximum demands on the squad, which is a classic mixture of youth and experience, with Luke Goreham leading the charge as captain and Nathan Thompson, young Adam Hipperson and Harry Maddison, providing the bulk of the goal power.

This Saturday Acle travel to Loddon (1.30) before travelling to Cromer for an educational “six-pointer” on Tuesday evening.

But whoever they face, no game will be regarded as a given.

“There are a lot of points to be won and lost so we aren’t getting too excited just yet. To be complacent would be the worst thing we could do,” said Sinclair.

After twice being Sterry Cup bridesmaids, Acle would love nothing more than to win the coveted prize.

But in Blofield and Cromer, they are up against protagonists, who have been there done that and know exactly what is required.

Sinclair said lifting the huge trophy would be the perfect reward for the hard-working club committee members, and stalwarts such as Freddie Colk, John Goward and Robin Tungate.

“It would be a fantastic achievement. Unlike some other clubs at our level we don’t pay players. But with that you get a degree of honesty as we know that the boys want to play for the club.

“It makes it more of a challenge and if we can win it, maybe more of an achievement.”

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