Norfolk Under-18s face rivals on emotional occasion

Ian Thornton.

Ian Thornton. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk U18's are back in action on Saturday afternoon (kick off 2pm, subject to pitch inspection), when they face Hertfordshire U18's in the East Anglian Counties Competition at the FDC in Bowthorpe, Norwich.

With the sides currently sitting second and third in the league table respectively, with only goal difference giving Norfolk the advantage, another closely contested encounter is expected.

Norfolk will be boosted by the inclusion of Shaun Stocker and Toby Hilliard, both of whom were selected for the England Colleges U19 squad for their recent 3-2 victory over Australia. Hilliard scored twice on the way to that victory and manager Ian Thornton says it was great news for the pair.

'I'm sure both players will benefit from the experience in a positive manner, with more fixtures and a tour programme still to come,' he said.

'In terms of the rest of the squad, we'll be welcoming the return of a couple of (other) players, who have unfortunately been unavailable through injury for the last couple of fixtures.'

The afternoon promises to be an emotional occasion, following the unexpected passing of Head Groundsman, Peter Smith, on Tuesday.

'Peter has been instrumental in creating the outstanding surface at The FDC's 'Field of Dreams', making it a pitch that local clubs and players can't wait to play on', said Ben Casey, Chairman of the Norfolk FA Representative Match Committee.

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'I have no doubt that Peter would have been a very proud man as he watched his grandson, Ryan Hawkins, represent the County over the previous two seasons, on his beloved pitch.

'Let's hope we see a cracking game, one that Peter would surely have enjoyed.'

A minute's silence will be observed prior to kick off, as a mark of respect to Peter.

Spectators are welcome to attend the game in support, with entry on the turnstile priced at £2 for adults and £1 for U16's/concessions. Updates will also be available on Twitter @NorfolkCountyFA.