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Former Norwich City star Eadie relishing the challenge at Leiston

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 September 2020

Leiston manager Darren Eadie walks off the pitch after giving some late instructions to his players before kick-off at Coalville Town on Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Leiston manager Darren Eadie walks off the pitch after giving some late instructions to his players before kick-off at Coalville Town on Saturday. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Darren Eadie is relishing the challenge of trying to cement Leiston’s position in the notoriously-tough Step Three level in the Southern League Premier Central.

Darren Eadie, siging autographs for young fans at an event held at Sheringham. Picture: KAREN BETHELLDarren Eadie, siging autographs for young fans at an event held at Sheringham. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

The former Norwich City favourite, who rattled up more than 200 appearances for the Canaries as a tricy winger, often giving rivals Ipswich Town a hard time with his attacking prowess, is looking to make a big impact at Victory Road.

Eadie took over the managerial reins in a joint venture with ex-Sheringham boss Chris Wigger, last March, and the duo are under no illusions as to the task that lies ahead - Leiston are currently rock bottom of the table, although only after two rounds of matches.

Last season, Leiston also spent much of the campaign at the foot of the table, until the return of former manager Glenn Driver sparked a revival. The season was eventually declared null-and-void due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m enjoying the challenge,” insisted Eadie, following last Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Coalville Town.

Chris Wigger, left, with Darren Eadie, in the dug-out at Sheringham. Picture: ROBERT WALKLEYChris Wigger, left, with Darren Eadie, in the dug-out at Sheringham. Picture: ROBERT WALKLEY

“We knew what it would be like when we came here. We finished third-bottom last season and Glen (Driver) came in and probably kept them up.

“We knew there was going to be a lot of changes and it’s a building process over the next two years.

“We have got a young squad, and it takes time to learn.

Darren Eadie, left, with fellow Leiston joint manager Chris Wigger, in the techincal area at Coalville Town on Saturday.Picture: CARL MARSTONDarren Eadie, left, with fellow Leiston joint manager Chris Wigger, in the techincal area at Coalville Town on Saturday.Picture: CARL MARSTON

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“We’ve had young Jamie Godbold come on (as a substitute) today (on Saturday), who is under-18 and has played under-16s a little while ago. He came on and did really well, so it shows the progression that the club has got.

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“We want to produce our players to go on and play at higher levels.

“We’ve got a fairly strong squad in terms of depth now, and there will be rotation, but the boys that are playing have got to be better when starting games, collectively,” added Eadie.

Leiston’s two league defeats, to Rushall Olympic (1-0 at home) and Coalville at least sandwiched an impressive 5-1 victory over Biggleswade Town in the FA Cup.

So Eadie, who went on to play 40 games for Leicester City in the Premier League, following a £3million move from Norwich in late 1999, can draw on some encouraging signs.

“We have got a young, hungry group, although the problem with a young, hungry group is that they do make mistakes,” continued 45-year-old Eadie.

“Those mistakes tend to be costly against a team with a bit more experience and more knowledge of the league, like Coalville.

“It’s hard at Step Three, but we have not been frightened by anyone. We have played Rushall Olympic and Coalville and we have said to ourselves that we can compete with these.”

Eadie had to retire prematurely as a player, at the age of 28, due to recurring knee problems, but 17 years on and he is hoping to enjoy success as a non-league manager.

One of his promising young stars at Victory Road is centre-forward Will Davies, the teenager having scored four goals in the FA Cup win over Biggleswade last Tuesday evening.

“Will has done great,” continued Eadie.

“People before the season were telling us that he’s not quite the right fit yet, but everyone was on a fresh start, and we gave him that confidence by backing him. He has set his own standards now.

“He is powerful and strong and can score goals.

“We’ve told him that the No. 9 shirt is yours and you have got to be able to keep hold of it. He’s doing well, but he’s still got to learn like all the young players.”

Leiston are away ay Biggleswade Town in the Southern League this evening, before travelling to Leighton Town for an FA Cup second qualifying round tie this Saturday.


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