Team spirit the key to Walsham’s survival

TEAM spirit has been the key to Walsham-le-Willows securing their Ridgeons League Premier Division status for another season, according to manager Chris Soanes.

The village side’s 2-2 draw at Felixstowe & Walton United last Saturday ensured that Walsham will stay in the top flight after a season-long struggle in the lower reaches of the table.

Walsham have drawn 18 games this season - five more than any other club - whilst simultaneously losing less fixtures than any side outside the top eight.

Soanes, who took over from the long-serving Paul Smith at the start of the season, said: “We have been difficult to beat, and we have drawn a lot of games, but we have dropped points in games where we have been sloppy.

“I am disappointed at the number of games we have drawn from winning positions, but considering the budget we have got to work with no-one has thumped us in the league, although Wroxham turned us over in the League Cup.”

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Prior to Wednesday’s 3-0 loss at home to in-form Stanway Rovers, Walsham had strung together a run of five wins and two draws in seven matches to pull clear of Wivenhoe Town, Histon Reserves and Debenham LC, who are now consigned to the bottom three positions.

Soanes admitted: “The last four or five weeks have really saved us, and we have got the results we have deserved.

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“But we should not have been in the position we found ourselves in - and I have been told that by other managers after we have played against them.

“It has been our team spirit which has got us through - the lads all get on well and regularly go out together.”

Smith returned to the club to take charge of the first team while Soanes was laid low with pneumonia for a couple of weeks, and the former Sudbury Town striker agreed to stayed on as his assistant until at least the end of the season.

“Paul Smith’s return has been good for us - he knows about this league and he loves the club,” said Soanes, who has already held discussions with chairman Mike Powles about carrying on next season.

Soanes had words of praise for his experienced players who have helped to steer the club to safety.

“Gavin Johnson has been brilliant for us and Tats (James Tatham) has done well, and they both deserve to have another season at this level.”

And he said he had been pleased with the emergence of youngsters who have stepped up into the first team during the course of the campaign - and hopes he can keep hold of them if he is still at the helm next season.

“Young lads like Tom Fenner, Jack Brame and Ollie Hughes have been a big plus for us this season. We have some good young players at the club, but it can be difficult to keep them happy in our situation as we don’t pay our players a massive amount,” he added.

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