Thurlow Nunn League: Norwich United in control of Premier Division title battle

Ross King was on target for Kirkley & Pakefield against Newmarket last night. Picture: MICK HOWES

Ross King was on target for Kirkley & Pakefield against Newmarket last night. Picture: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

The champagne is on ice for Premier Division leaders Norwich United – manager Damian Hilton is not ready to pop the cork on any title celebrations yet though.

The Planters are 14 points clear at the top of the table with nine games to play and know that victory at reigning champions Hadleigh United would guarantee a top-three finish this afternoon.

Hadleigh dominated the division last season but suffered a hangover after not pursuing promotion and didn't really get going until after Christmas.

The Brettsiders are now unbeaten in 11 games though – since being thrashed 5-0 at Norwich United in January, who are unbeaten in 14 league games themselves.

Their last two matches have been 2-1 home wins against nearest title challengers Godmanchester and Stanway, with the Blofield-based side now looking to complete a crucial part of the season.

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'Hadleigh have been doing really well lately,' Planters boss Hilton said.

'They've had a change of manager and their form has been good and they've gone up to third in the table in the last few weeks so it will be another tough game.

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'We said at the start of March we had the big teams to play and if we are going to win it, we want to win it by beating the bigger sides and hopefully we can have another good day. That week (playing Godmanchester and Stanway) was always going to define any serious challenge for the title and we pretty much killed any hopes of any other clubs.

'We've not won it yet but we've certainly stamped our authority on things.'

Former Gorleston defender Zak Clarke is Hilton's only injury absence for the game, after the recent signing injured his knee.

Elsewhere in the division, Fakenham Town begin life without Dereham Town bound Wayne Anderson. Robbie Harris and Neil Jarvis take temporary charge of the Ghosts as they host mid-table rivals Whitton United.

Gorleston travel to Ipswich Wanderers, who are just a point and a place better off in mid-table. The Greens have lost four of their last five matches and need to win if they are to climb back into the top half of the table before the end of the season.

Diss must win at home against relegation rivals Clacton if they are to keep alive any hopes of escaping the drop and Thetford could do with a win away at fellow strugglers Wivenhoe to stay clear of the survival scrap.

In the First Division, Swaffham can take another big step towards promotion by beating second-from-bottom Cornard United. The Pedlars are two points clear and with a game in hand on their rivals, having won nine matches in succession.

Great Yarmouth are also still in with a shout of promotion, as they welcome mid-table Stowmarket to the Wellesley.

n Kirkley & Pakefield moved into third place in the Premier Division with a 2-1 home victory against Newmarket last night. Goals from Ross King and Jordan Haverson saw the Royals come from behind to win.

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