Title between two teams, says Morsley
NON-LEAGUE: Leiston boss Mark Morsley is predicting a two-horse race for the Ridgeons League Premier Division title – even if his side are currently 18 points off leaders Dereham Town.
While the Norfolk side have the points in the bag, Leiston have lost just once in the league and have a massive seven games in hand on the table-toppers.
Things could become even more interesting with the pair due to meet in two weeks. And while he has to juggle a mounting fixture backlog with his side still in the FA Vase, Morsley believes his men and Dereham will be the last two standing.
He said: “I definitely believe it is a two-horse race. The likes of Wroxham have done well but I think it is between us or Dereham. They have been helped by having a similar squad over the last couple of years and they are a real threat.
“But our edge is that I have four or five players who give you something extra in the really big games.”
Leiston have actually lost fewer games than Dereham but Town have been able to focus solely on the league after early exits in the FA Cup and FA Vase.
Morsley admitted: “It is no secret that I was brought in to get Leiston promoted and I am pleased with how things have gone so far this season. The amount of league games we still have to play is a concern, but any club which is successful in the Ridgeons League is going to play 60 to 65 games a season. When I was a player 20 years ago, that total would have taken me two seasons.”
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Having recently signed Darren Bethell and Patrick Brothers on two-year contracts, Morsley is in no rush to spend any of the money accrued from the FA Cup run and one suspects that he will see how a busy December shapes up first.
Leiston have been hugely impressive this season, but it has not been completely smooth. An incredible 16-1 hammering suffered by a very young first team at Kirkley & Pakefield in the Ridgeons League Challenge Cup and a disciplinary problem that has crept into their game of late are obvious lowlights.
Morsley said: “The amount of games we have to play means it is a balancing act and we decided at the start of the season to go with our young lads in certain cup competitions.
“Obviously the defeat against Kirkley was pretty embarrassing but I have to say the response from the youngsters was fantastic. The night after the Kirkley defeat, they beat Braintree in a difficult youth team game and then, on the Saturday, a young reserve side beat Diss.
“The recent red cards are also a concern and three of them have come from one player (Danny Cunningham). It is difficult for him as he has a reputation in the eyes of referees and aggression is part of his game. It is a shame as when he is on fire, there is no more exciting player in the division.”
The December 18 match between Leiston and Dereham will give a small indication where the title might be heading. But as it stands, mark April 30, 2011, in the calendar. The last game of the season currently pits the two contenders head-to-head.