Norfolk Alliance Premier Division: ‘It’s not a title showdown’ say Fakenham and Norwich skippers
Captains Ben Harvey and Chris Borrett may be going head-to-head tomorrow but both agree on one thing – Fakenham and Norwich's clash is not a title showdown.
The Norfolk Alliance Premier Division's top two sides are unbeaten after nine matches and have already opened a healthy lead over third-placed Downham Town.
However, both skippers will insist they will not be putting too much importance on the result of this weekend's mouth-watering clash at Highfield Lawn.
Fakenham captain Harvey said: 'It's only natural for people to get excited about the game – with the gap we've both got over Downham – but it's a funny old league.
'Vauxhall Mallards A, North Runcton and Sprowston are all very good sides who are more than capable of getting positive results against anyone. So playing Norwich at this stage of the season is certainly not a title decider.
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'We've both had fantastic starts, but it's a long season. We're experienced title campaigners so we know it's a marathon not a sprint.
'This game will define how both sides' momentum continues, but Norwich and us are likely to come up short somewhere along the line against someone else.
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'I've got every confidence in our lads and they won't be intimidated – after all it's just another game. It makes me laugh when people say there will be lots of pressure because both sides have got lads that work in the RAF and that's pressure, not Saturday cricket.'
Reigning champions Fakenham's four-wicket win at last season's runners-up Sprowston at the weekend kept them hot on the heels of Norwich – who beat Mallards by six wickets.
League-leaders Norwich, looking to regain their East Anglian Premier League status at the first time of asking, have looked in imperious form and Borrett admits he's excited about his side's trip to Fakenham.
He said: 'We've had an excellent start and it's just what we wanted. I was uncertain how we would approach this league having come down from the EAPL because we had to make sure we took nothing for granted. But we've been ruthless.
'The game against Fakenham is massively important. A win puts us further in front of them and a victory for them will level it up. Even though it's important, a defeat wouldn't be the end of the world, and it's certainly not a title decider.
'There will be opportunities during the season I'm sure for games to be won, lost or drawn.
'We're desperate to win but in this league a good winning draw is an advantage.
'It's a good cricket wicket that has got a bit in it for the bowlers and the batsmen. There will be some pressure and nerves but those things are good. You want to play in games like this that are seen as more than 'normal' league games.'
Olly Higenbottom (50) and Ashley Watson (4-19) were in fine form for Norwich at Mallards while Fakenham's Will Dungar (5-19) and Keegan Monahan Fairlee (63) will also be hoping for similar personal glory tomorrow.
A large crowd is expected, weather permitting, and Harvey believes his side's healthy home support could make a difference.
The Fakenham skipper, whose outfit lost their EAPL promotion play-off last summer, said: 'We look forward to welcoming Norwich – it's the type of game that makes us play sport.
'Amateurs work Monday to Friday to really look forward to big games at the weekend. We'll enjoy the build-up and we know there will be a fairly big crowd watching. Not many sides at our level can boast the support of support we get.
'It'll be exciting, and tight, with both sides looking to get the upper hand and we can't wait for it.'
Four-time title winners Downham will be looking to capitalise on any slip-ups when they travel to mid-table Mallards.