Norwich United and Wisbech Town looking to keep their FA Vase dreams alive

Norwich United V Diss. Norwich United manager, Damian Hilton, right, and assistant manager, John Edridge. Picture: Denise Bradley Norwich United V Diss. Norwich United manager, Damian Hilton, right, and assistant manager, John Edridge. Picture: Denise Bradley

Saturday, December 7, 2013
6:30 AM

Norfolk’s final hope in the FA Vase is Norwich United, who are hoping for a bumper crowd at Plantation Park for their third-round clash with Erith Town.

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The East London club arrive in Norfolk full of confidence as they currently sit third in the Southern Counties East Premier Division.However, Planters boss Damian Hilton says his side are well up for the match, saying: “We’re looking forward to the game. It’s the furthest the club has been in the Vase for quite some time so there is a bit of an air of excitement about the place. The lads are looking forward to it so hopefully we can get a good result.”

The Planters go into the match in mixed form, having lost 2-0 at home against third-placed Haverhill Rovers in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division last weekend, leaving them in eighth position. But before that Hilton’s side had thumped Great Yarmouth Town 8-1 in the Red Insure Cup and had won four of their last six matches.

Today’s Vase match is worth £1,500 in prize money for the victor, in a competition which hasn’t been kind to Norfolk sides in recent years.

Wroxham and Lowestoft Town both made it to Wembley for the Vase final in recent years, Wroxham losing 6-1 to Whitley Bay in 2010 and Lowestoft 2-1 to Kirkham & Wesham in 2008. The only local side to have won the Vase was Diss Town at the old Wembley, winning 2-1 in extra-time against Taunton Town in 1994.

Hilton reached the quarter-finals of the Vase a couple of times as a player, including being beaten at that stage by his old team Wroxham on their way to Wembley when he was playing for Needham Market

“As a manager it is hard to enjoy a game until it’s over,” Hilton continued. “The enjoyable part is the result but you don’t set your stall out at the start of the season saying you are going to achieve this in the Vase or that in the FA Cup because anything can happen on the day.”

Hilton has a full strength squad to pick from for the match, apart from long-term absentee Nathan Howard, although the young striker is well on the road to recovery from a knee injury picked up in pre-season.

One man who will be available is winger Jamie Speller, whose loan from AFC Sudbury has been turned into a full-time deal to allow him to play in the match, as loan players can not compete in the Vase. Elsewhere in the competition Wisbech Town travel to reinstated Walsall Wood after Spalding were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player.

In Premier Division action, Kirkley & Pakefield visit Felixstowe & Walton United, Thetford Town travel to Godmanchester, Gorleston host Walsham-le-Willows and Diss visit Stanway. In the First Division, Downham travel to Saffron Walden while Fakenham visit Team Bury. Great Yarmouth’s home match with Halstead has been postponed due to more storm warnings.

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