Norwich United resume title defence as rivals close gap

Fakenham Town's Ricky Claxton tries to hold off an opponent on Saturday. Picture: JACKIE PRICE

Fakenham Town's Ricky Claxton tries to hold off an opponent on Saturday. Picture: JACKIE PRICE - Credit: Archant

Norwich United's title defence resumes today after a 10-day spell without a game which has seen their lead cut to just four points.

The reigning Premier Division champions still have two games in hand but look to have genuine competition from Stanway Rovers, who are on an impressive 21-match unbeaten run, winning 18 of those matches.

The Planters have won 24 of their 28 matches though, losing just twice, and will be looking to reassert their dominance when they travel to ninth-placed Saffron Walden.

Kirkley & Pakefield entertain Long Melford at Walmer Road, who sit a point and a place below the Royals in seventh ahead of the game. Gaven Tipple's team go into the match in good heart having thrashed Wivenhoe 5-0 in the League Challenge Cup on Tuesday night, to tee up a semi-final tie at holders Norwich United.

There are still plenty of issues to be settled at the other end of the table as well, with Fakenham boss Wayne Anderson insisting his side can still pull off a great escape.

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The relegation-threatened club – who are six points from safety with just seven matches to play – host mid-table FC Clacton.

With third-from-bottom Thetford winning 3-1 at Gorleston in midweek to boost their hopes of climbing out of the bottom three, each game is now becoming must-win for the Ghosts.

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'I think we can still do it,' Anderson said of his team's survival hopes, having been unavailable for his side's 1-1 home draw with Ipswich Wanderers last Saturday.

'We've still got to play teams near us, so there's no reason why not.

'I spoke to Jarvo (assistant Neil Jarvis) several times on Saturday morning about the players and the tactics, and I'd been updated on the score throughout the game as well.

'I'm pleased with how the lads carried out the plan and again with key players missing we've had to reshuffle and play players out of position, but we've done well. We need to carry that on into the Clacton game.'

The Ghosts host a Clacton side who are up to 10th place after bouncing back from two successive defeats with a 3-0 win at mid-table rivals Haverhill on Tuesday.

Thetford will face a tough task to build on their midweek success when they welcome high-flying Godmanchester to Mundford Road, who they lost 8-0 to away from home in the early throes of the campaign.

The Brecklanders are now just one point behind near rivals Swaffham, who fell to a disappointing 3-0 loss at Walsham-le-Willows on Wednesday.

That was a fourth defeat on the bounce for the Pedlars, who today travel to 12th-placed Newmarket, who are also on a poor run of form.

Gorleston are just four points above the bottom three before their trip to fifth-placed Mildenhall, with Ricci Butler's side looking to end a run of seven games without a win.

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