West Norfolk non-league round-up: Young guns delight Hunt ahead of Swaffham and Downham cup derby
Swaffham boss Paul Hunt says his young hopefuls will be given the perfect opportunity to prove their first team credentials when the Pedlars take on local rivals Downham Town in the Norfolk Senior Cup this weekend.
Hunt has some major selection problems ahead of the thirds round tie at Shoemakers Lane, with Rory Harper definitely out because of work commitments and strike partner Joe Jackson looking doubtful because of injury. Full-back Dwayne Hockton is absent because of illness while Dean Miller is another with a prior commitment.
Swaffham were depleted for last week's FA Vase exit at home to Desborough, although the 6-0 scoreline did little to reflect their performance, but Hunt says the young players drafted in have stepped the plate.
'It is always a case that after a defeat you can't wait to get back into action again, and we are no different, but this sort of game is perfect,' he said. 'It is a great competition and against our local rivals as well. We have had some good games against them and there should be a good atmosphere – and it will be great for the young lads.
'They have been performing really well in the circumstances. There are four or five of them who are taking their chance with both hands and who will want to keep their places in the team.'
Jackson's 10-goal league haul this season includes two hat-tricks, one of which came when Swaffham thrashed Downham 5-0 in the first week of the season. But a groin problem troubled him last week and by half-time Hunt had to make a change.
'We lost Rory at nine in the morning, because of an unexpected work commitment,' he said. 'Joe had been struggling with the injury but said he would try and get through. He was looking sharp early on, but it just flared up and he began to struggle.'
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'We have signed Neil Goodbourn from Downham, but he is serving a suspension so effectively we are likely to be without three strikers this weekend.
'The Desborough game was a bit ridiculous because we were superb at times. I think in the end you can say their clinical finishing meant they deserved the win, but overall, we performed well and the scoreline did nothing to reflect that.'
Downham also shipped six goals in a 6-2 Vase defeat at Braintree Reserves, the visitors goals coming from Matthew Castellan, who made it 2-1 and then 6-2.
'We didn't start well,' said assistant Pete Brassett. 'We gave them three of the four goals they scored in the first half. We had a great chance to make it 3-2, but then went up the other end and scored to make it 4-1 – that was the turning point.'
Wisbech stayed top the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division after Adam Milson's injury-time goal gave them a 2-1 win at FC Clacton. The Fenmen, who are at Norwich United this weekend, have a tough Vase second round tie away to unbeaten UCL leaders St Ives Town.