Testing start for Fakenham’s Dipple & Conway Opticians Norfolk Alliance Premier title defence

Sixteen-year-old Tom Yarham shone during Fakenham's EAPL play-off semi final. Picture: RONNIE HEYHOE

Sixteen-year-old Tom Yarham shone during Fakenham's EAPL play-off semi final. Picture: RONNIE HEYHOE - Credit: Archant

Fakenham's dream of rejoining the region's elite begins with a trip to Old Buckenham.

Keegan Monahan-Fairlie's side start their Dipple & Conway Opticians Norfolk Alliance Premier Division title defence with tomorrow's tricky-looking trip to Bucks, who finished third in 2015. But they'll be fired up having had the winter to stew on a disappointing East Anglian Premier League promotion play-off semi-final defeat.

Hopes of ending what is now a six-year exile from the EAPL were crushed when Godmanchester Town won by 50 runs. Yet despite that disappointing ending to what had been an excellent campaign, Monahan-Fairlie still found plenty of positives in his youngsters' progress throughout the term.

Tom Yarham's defiant knock of 60 restored some pride for the hosts against Goddy and, aged 16 at the time, he will be another season wiser as Fakenham look to go one better. Perhaps their biggest boost, however, is less about the experiences gained from last term and more about the return of South African Chad Bowes. The brilliant batsman was simply outstanding during his first year with the club and he will be expected to spearhead Fakenham's title challenge again.

Runners-up Sprowston will kickstart their attempt to go one better when they host Swardeston A. Brooke, fourth during their debut 2015 campaign in the Alliance's top flight, visit Diss. Downham Town visit new boys and Division One champions Garboldisham while fellow promoted side North Runcton host Cromer.

Relegated duo Stow and Ashmanhaugh & Barton Wanderers meet in the second-tier's big game of the weekend.

Dereham host Thetford, who went up last term, while Norwich A's hopes of getting off to a flying start at a higher level begin with a home match against Acle.

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