Thurlow Nunn League preview: Great Yarmouth Town set for ‘play-off’ showdown

Action from Great Yarmouth shock 3-0 home defeat to Debenham last weekend. Picture: James Bass

Action from Great Yarmouth shock 3-0 home defeat to Debenham last weekend. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

There are no promotion play-offs in the Thurlow Nunn League – but the final round of matches in Division One has thrown up a mouth-watering winner-takes-all showdown with a place in the top flight at stake.

Great Yarmouth Town head to rivals Saffron Walden today knowing a victory would secure a return to the top flight after three seasons playing at a lower level.

Their Essex hosts will go up if they win or draw and with both teams having their fate in their own hands it promises to be a showdown to savour, with a bumper crowd expected to descend on Catons Lane.

The Bloaters could have moved ahead of Walden on goal difference on Tuesday night – meaning a point would have been enough for them today – but they were held to a 1-1 draw by Downham Town.

It makes it that little bit tougher for Ricci Butler's side, but Yarmouth's young boss will not allow any negative thoughts to creep in as his side prepare for one of the biggest games in the club's recent history.

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'That (Downham) game is over with – Saffron Walden is the only one that matters now,' said the 28-year-old.

'It's down to one game, a play-off if you like, and we know exactly what we have got to do. I understand they are expecting a really big crowd – figures of 700 or 800 have been mentioned – and I know we will have some support down there too so it should be a really great occasion. These are the sort of games you want to be involved in as a manager or a player and I can't wait. The lads will be fired up and the fact that we have to win won't make any difference because we go out to try and win every game anyway.'

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Butler, who must do without the unavailable Darren Cockrill and Luke Goreham (who is running in the London Marathon) today, knows how much promotion would mean to everyone connected with the club.

'It would be a great boost for the club and the town,' he said.

'There has been a buzz around the place this week and even people who are not regular supporters have been wishing us good luck. The Premier Division is where we want to be – it would be great to play at a higher level again, and of course we would also have the derbies against Gorleston to look forward to. Over the course of the season I think we deserve promotion – and now we've got a great opportunity to go up, which we are determined to take.'

Promoted Swaffham Town will be looking to round off a memorable season with a home win over Woodbridge today. Long Melford, three points ahead of the Pedlars with a superior goal difference, effectively have the title in bag but will want to make absolutely sure in their home fixture against in-form Downham.

In the Premier Division champions Norwich United can move on to 98 points for the season, with two games still to play, with a win at Newmarket. Thetford Town entertain Wivenhoe in the only top-flight game in Norfolk today. Relegated Diss Town hit the road to play Haverhill while Gorleston visit Hadleigh. Fakenham travel to Ipswich Wanderers and Kirkley and Pakefield go to FC Clacton.

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