Division One could turn into all Norfolk three-horse race

John Cushion In the chase for league honours, local fans are hoping for a touch of eastern promise in both divisions.In the Premier Division, Kirkley & Pakefield are fifth, 17 points behind pace-setters Leiston, but have five games in hand.

John Cushion

In the chase for league honours, local fans are hoping for a touch of eastern promise in both divisions.

In the Premier Division, Kirkley & Pakefield are fifth, 17 points behind pace-setters Leiston, but have five games in hand. They visit fourth-placed Stanway Rovers, whom they trail by four points with three games in hand.

Further up the east coast, Great Yarmouth have moved four points clear of FC Clacton at the top of the First Division, and Gorleston are quietly going about the business of gathering points in seventh spot, 15 points behind the Bloaters but with four games in hand.


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Sandwiched between the east-coast duo are Diss in third spot, nine points off the top having played a game more than the leaders. The Tangerines, smarting from their Norfolk Senior Cup home defeat by Anglian Combination Mattishall last weekend, visit Gorleston's Emerald Park today looking for consolation in the league.

If good form continues and games in hand are turned into points, this section could see a Norfolk three-horse promotion race develop.

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In the top section, Norwich United manager Paul Chick has announced the signing of Dereham Town's Ben Furlong. “He's still young, he's got lots of potential and he can play anywhere down the left, so he brings plenty to the squad,” said Chick.

Furlong comes straight into the squad for today's game away to Ely City, while Jordan Blyth also returns from suspension. One player who won't be travelling to Ely is Damian Hilton, who has left the club to join third-placed Needham Market.

Dereham, aiming to get more consistency, are at home to Felixstowe and Walton.

Robbie Harris is doubtful after straining ankle ligaments last week. Graham Barrett and Dan Buhleman are likely to shake off minor knocks while Stu Williams, Ben Latimer and Kenny Reeves are brought into the squad after all gaining fitness in the reserves last week, reported manager Matt Henman yesterday.

Wroxham, facing fixture catch-up following their FA Vase success and delays in settling their Norfolk Senior Cup tie with Yarmouth, entertain a Newmarket side in the bottom six.

Also in the Premier Division, Mildenhall visit Hadleigh in a mid-table clash while Wisbech will be hoping for a good return from their long trip to lowly Harwich & Parkeston.

King's Lynn Reserves' trip to Haverhill has, like all Linnets' fixtures this weekend, been postponed until the Lynn club's future is resolved.

Paul Tong has a strong squad at Yarmouth and spirits are high at the Wellesley with the Bloaters setting the promotion pace in the First Division. Cup involvement is meaning two games a week, and today the Bloaters have a tricky trip to a sixth-placed Saffron Walden outfit which also has games in hand.

Swaffham face a home mid-table battle with Cornard, while in the bottom six Thetford travel to Downham and Fakenham entertain FC Clacton. The Ghosts, with no points to show from 11 games, face a daunting task against a side second in the table.

The league in general has been suffering from low attendances, Whitton attracting just 23 last weekend, and Yarmouth are setting the league an example by introducing half-season tickets to tempt more support.

These will be half the normal cost at �40 (concessions �20).

n Norfolk Senior Cup quarter-final draw: Dereham v Gorleston, Loddon v Mattishall, Spixworth v Cromer, Yarmouth or Wroxham v Norwich United. Ties to be played on Saturday, January 9.

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