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Royals aim to claim Crown

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:05 05 July 2010

Mark Boggis

MORE than a thousand fans are expected to turn out for a late festive treat as the footballing eyes of the east coast focus on the first Ridgeons League local derby of the season.

Mark Boggis

MORE than a thousand fans are expected to turn out for a late festive treat as the footballing eyes of the east coast focus on the first Ridgeons League local derby of the season.

Lowestoft Town and neighbours Kirkley & Pakefield will have the stage set perfectly for themselves, with no English League football taking place on Saturday and all local action on hold.

With a bumper crowd likely to attend this traditional festive bonanza, it will provide a late Christmas cracker for all football followers as the sides collide at Crown Meadow in a mouthwatering clash where local bragging rights are at stake.

And with this game taking on added importance given Lowestoft currently top the table and K&P are well-positioned in fourth, the battle for three points is likely to crank up the intensity.

Yesterday, two of the key performers told The Journal both teams were looking forward to the “massive” game.

K&P hotshot Nathan Stone, who has already scored 11 goals this season - the most recent in last Saturday's 3-1 reversal against CRC - admitted that The Royals were “upbeat” ahead of the game and will be hoping to claim victory at Crown Meadow, as they did last season.

“It's a massive game,” he said. “The local bragging rights is what everyone claims it is all about, and the lads will all be up for it.

“There's no better way or team to bounce back against than your nearest rivals!” he warned.

“It's an intense atmosphere to play in, and its brilliant to play in front of such a large crowd. Right before the start of the game everyone will feel a bit nervous, but as soon as the action gets underway and you touch the ball for the first time that soon disappears.”

“Last season we doubled them so hopefully that might give us the advantage as we've got a better side now than we had last season.”

Nick Shorten's men will be without Martyn Magee on Saturday, who is suspended, while fellow midfielder Matty Taunton is an injury concern.

Lowestoft's midfield maestro Jamie Godbold, who picked up the man of the match award following The Blues 2-0 away win at Ely - which ensures Town will be top of table into the New Year - said that this was the start of a massive few weeks, which could potentially shape The Blues season.

“We are looking forward to Saturday,” Godbold said.

“We're going into the next four or five games, which are really big matches for us all against teams at the top of the table, looking to pick up another three points.

“K&P beat us twice last season so we've a point to prove and we'll go into the game thinking of three points.”

With games against Leiston and Dereham to come, as well as a crucial FA Vase encounter next month, Godbold said: “Local pride will be at stake on Saturday, but the main focus for us will be on ourselves. “A while ago they used to have a lot of Lowestoft-based players playing for them, but now their side contains a lot of experience.”

Admitting that the derby games always capture the imagination of locals, Godbold said: “I think the fans make the occasion as the atmosphere is fantastic and it's brilliant for the players to be involved in.

“The crowds at the Crown Meadow this year have been fantastic - we have some of the best fans in our league and the players thrive on that. “So the message is to continue to be loud as you are really great for us!”

Being a Lowestoft lad, Godbold has been involved in a number of derby games over the years, and usually finds himself at the heart of the action in midfield.

“Derby games are typically physical battles, but we'll try and get the ball down and play our football,” he said. “It's great just to be involved in one of the big games, where there is a lot of pride at stake and lots of fans coming to watch.”

And ahead of a crucial run of games, Micky Chapman's men will hope to be boosted by the return of Matty Potter, Carl Poppy and Neil Plaskett in forthcoming weeks as a lengthy injury list shows signs of improvement.

“In the next few weeks we've really got be coming away with some more points to keep up the pressure at the top of the table - it's really a make or break time for our season,” he added.

“If we can come out of it at the end of January and still be up there at the top of the table, and still in the Vase, it will be brilliant.”

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