Cornard United have bolstered their defence with two new additions ahead of coming up against the Thurlow Nunn League First Division’s most prolific strikeforce.
The Ards (13th) travel to fourth-placed Swaffham on Saturday (3pm) with three new players having arrived as joint managers Ryan Lines and Liam Aves continue to mould their squad in pursuit of a top 10 finish this season, and a potential promotion challenge in 2018/19.
Ahead of Tuesday’s postponed First Division Knockout Cup quarter-final, Cornard kept a clean sheet in their return to action after a fortnight off with a 1-0 home win over Diss Town on Saturday, sealed via substitute Billy Coe’s late strike.
But a new-look defence, with left-back Jake Hearn and centre-half or striker Ben Parkin having come in from Premier Division FC Clacton, is set to be put under a stern examination at the weekend.
In Joseph Jackson, who has 31 goals in 33 appearances, and Alex Vincent, 30 from 34, Swaffham are a side that can really make defensively weak sides pay the price.
Lines said: “Jake is a lad me and Liam have known for a long time from our reserve days and he is a good player.
“Ben (Parkin) has been at Wivenhoe, Stanway and Clacton. I had Ben at Stanway (reserves) last year and he decided he wanted to play as a forward so went to Clacton.
“He is a very good centre-half though and at the minute he will help us plug a hole as we have been a bit short on defenders. I see him as a centre-half but he can also play up front if needed.
“He is a really good player who is coming back from a long-term injury and he is going to be massive for us.”
It follows defender Lee Kidger having left the Blackhouse Lane club recently after accepting a promotion at work which means he cannot now commit to Thurlow Nunn League football.
The third player through the door over the last week is Saffron Walden’s winger or forward Ben Morrell, who is also returning from a long-term injury.
“He is a really clever player and can drift in and out of games and really cause problems,” said Lines.
Looking ahead to the visit to Swaffham, who they travel to with five wins from their last six against a side who have suffered three defeats in four, he said: “It is probably the best time to go there.
“They have the league’s top two scorers but the way we look at it, we have nothing to lose.”
Of Saturday’s victory, which saw the club’s promising under-18s number 10 Max Dinnell make his senior debut, Lines said: “If I am being honest it was probably the most boring game I have watched in my life.
“There was one mistake at the end that fell to the player I would have thought was the most unlikely to put it away, given what I had seen in training, but he hit it well.”
• Halstead Town returned from a three-week enforced break on Saturday to register their third straight away victory, with a 3-1 socreline at Norwich CBS.
All the game’s goals came in the second half with Jake Brown putting Halstead ahead before Jack Shelvis, with his second in as many games after breaking his duck for the Essex side in their previous completed fixture, doubled their advantage. The hosts pulled one back before Kane Gilbert’s goal made sure of all three points for the away side.
Mark McLean’s ninth-placed side return to Rosemary Lane for the first time since the 4-2 loss to King’s Lynn Reserves on January 6, the Framlingham Town home match having been postponed, when they host Downham Town (11th) on Saturday (3pm).