Thetford win in cup as weather hits hard

Thetford Town were one of the few clubs to beat the freeze, reaching the quarter-finals of the Norfolk Senior Cup with a 1-0 home win over Hempnall.

Most of the area's teams were left wondering if the weather would relent for action to resume tomorrow night, long-term forecasts suggesting that conditons could persist for up to two more weeks, stoking early concerns about fixture backlogs.

But Ridgeons First Division Thetford's manager Mark Scott was yesterday feeling the warmth of victory over gallant cup opponents from the Anglian Combination's Premier Division.

The varied weather pattern left Thetford's ground with a light covering of snow, said Scott. 'Early in the morning the goalmouths were a little solid, but you could get a key into the ground quite easily.

'The only worry was where the stand sheltered the pitch, but by the time it came to kick-off it was good. There were patches, but nothing anyone would describe as dangerous.'

He described the cup tie as very tight. 'Full credit to Hempnall, they came with a game plan. They were a very direct side, which is what we expected. It was a game of patience.'

Scott said he was confident Thetford's quality would eventually tell. The only goal of the tie came when Ryan Haynes cut in from the left and delivered a superb cross with his right foot to the far post where Bruno Tavares converted a downward header just inside an upright.

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Thetford created more chances, but helped by fine performances from central defenders Dave Richards and Ashley Thompson, they made sure of going into the next round.

The Ridgeons League area saw only two games, at Hadleigh where Wivenhoe lost 3-0, and at Woodbridge where Debenham LC were beaten 2-1 in the Premier Division.

If a fixture backlog does start to build up – the traditional period for the weather to hit hard is after Christmas – then David Batch feels his Wroxham will manage better than most, despite being involved in the league title race, FA Vase, Norfolk Senior Cup and League Cup.

'To be honest, I think we are probably the best-positioned club in the league to cope with it,' said the Yachtsmen's boss.

'We have played a lot of games already. We have played 22 of our league games. We played our 22nd Ridgeons game last season on March 10. We have got experience of what backlogs are like.

'But this season we are miles further ahead in terms of the league games we have played, and we have a miles-deeper squad.

'I have a squad of 22. If fixtures pile up, unless we have a major injury crisis, I would be able to rotate players around.

'Last campaign we played half our league games, a quarter-final of the League Cup and a two-legged semi-final of the FA Vase in six weeks. That was ridiculous. No team could cope with that.'

The weather also affects training schedules where teams rely on conventional grass surfaces.

Wroxham have an artificial surface available, although it cannot be used with snow on it, but the club is also negotiating to use indoor facilities.

Batch also had a word for club administrators who have to re-arrange postponed matches. 'Last year it was an absolute headache for us. It's not an easy job to do.'

n Last night's forecasts were for snow showers continuing over eastern coasts.