Tortoise bids to stay in front of hares

THE tortoise has overtaken the hares. But can it stay there?Mel Aldis' Debenham Leisure Centre go into tomorrow's home game against March Town in the third promotion place in the First Division of the Ridgeons League.

Elvin King

THE tortoise has overtaken the hares. But can it stay there?

Mel Aldis' Debenham Leisure Centre go into tomorrow's home game against March Town in the third promotion place in the First Division of the Ridgeons League.

But manager Aldis remains realistic about his side's chances of playing in East Anglia's premier division next season.


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Still a junior side at the turn of the century, Debenham have recovered from losing three games out of four last month to move back up the table.

“We have been plugging away like a tortoise,” he said. “And we have gained ground as the hares have fallen away.

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“A month ago I would not have given us any chance of promotion but it is now back on again.

“But if Halstead and Yarmouth win their game in hand they will overtake us, and I am not confident, based on our rather inconsistent form, that we will win all four of our remaining games.”

Debenham entertain Clacton on Tuesday and Downham next Saturday before finishing their campaign at March.

On Monday they recorded their biggest Ridgeons League victory with a 7-1 thrashing of Aldis' former club Stowmarket Town to put them just behind already promoted Newmarket Town and Hadleigh United in the table.

Seven teams in total can still end in the third spot, and Debenham will need to draw on their renowned team spirit to see them through.

“The bond between these lads is greater than I have known in my previous club management,” added Aldis, who took Earl Soham Victoria to success in the Carlsberg Pub Cup final at Wembley Stadium in 2000.

“They all want to do well for each other.”

Aldis is currently working with a squad of 15 following long-term injuries to Dean Sadler, Michael Supple, John Ince and Matthew Norman, but he has benefited from the 10-game Metaltec SIL rule that left marksman Ben Deacon on the sidelines at Ransomes Sports.

Deacon left Diss Town to join Ransomes, but as he hadn't played the required number of games by March 30 he has moved on to Debenham.

“Along with Stuart Jopling and Ian Gedny this gives us a potent strike force,” said Aldis, who picked out evergreen midfielder Dale Vince for special mention.

Vince, who previously played for Grundisburgh, Bury Town and Diss Town, has scored five goals in the last six games.

“Sometimes he appears two steps ahead of his team mates,” said Aldis. “He keeps the ball so well and despite having lost a bit of pace being the wrong side of 25 he retains possession so well.

“Whatever happens this season we are gradually getting closer to the Premier Division. This was our aim this season, and to still be in the hunt with two weeks to go is a good achievement.”

On paper both Halstead and Yarmouth can overtake Hadleigh, but the fact that they play each other on the last day of the season negates this possibility.

Newmarket Town are back in the top division after just one season at Step six level, and they need one point from their remaining three games to win the First Division title.

In the top division, Lowestoft Town need five points from their remaining five games to win the championship.

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