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Thurlow Nunn League preview: Boss of Premier Division leaders Norwich United setting the bar high

07:30 02 January 2016

Matt Blake, right, has been a key part of Norwich United

Matt Blake, right, has been a key part of Norwich United's recent dominance. Picture: SIMON FINLAY

Damian Hilton has a New Year’s resolution which will terrify his managerial rivals – making Norwich United even better!

Not content with enjoying the finest year in the club’s history, the Planters’ boss is determined to build on his side’s 2015 domination of the Premier Division. The champions, and current leaders, head to Hadleigh United this afternoon with a seven-point gap over Felixstowe & Walton United.

But Hilton insists his powerhouse team can still improve as they bid to complete a successful defence of their first-ever Thurlow Nunn (Eastern Counties) League top-flight title.

United’s manager said: “The pressure now is about maintaining the standards we have set.

“I know we’re winning games but I’ve told the lads that some of the performance levels haven’t been as good as last year.

“I know we’ve had changes in personnel and some unavailability which may have affected us but individually, bar two lads, I don’t think there’s anyone who could put their hand up and say they couldn’t do better than what they are.

“So we just want to improve as a team and individuals, like Adam Hipperson and Matt Blake have, get on a bit of a run and get back to what we showed last year.”

Completing a league and cup double was the least the Planters deserved for a phenomenal 2015 which saw then win 42 of the 53 matches they played in all competitions.

They scored a whopping 129 goals during that 12-month period and only conceded 38.

Yet that miserly rearguard showing has failed to prevent Hilton from adding to his ranks by signing defenders Jay Eastoe-Smith, inset, and Lewis Wallace on dual registration deals from higher-level Dereham Town.

Although Andy Cusack has left Plantation Park to join Thetford Town, United’s squad is starting to look as strong as ever as they seek glory on three fronts by trying to replicate their league and cup double, as well as lifting the Norfolk Senior Cup.

Elsewhere, second-from-bottom Fakenham Town host the side directly above the drop zone, Saffron Walden Town.

Thetford, one place above Fakenham and occupying the final slot in the bottom three, visit Kirkley & Pakefield. Swaffham Town visit Godmanchester Rovers and Gorleston are on the road at Walsham-le-Willows.

In the First Division, Diss Town are at Debenham LC, Great Yarmouth Town welcome Needham Market Reserves, third-placed King’s Lynn Town Reserves entertain Ely City, second.

Pawel Guziejko’s first game in charge of Downham Town is at March Town United.

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