FA Cup next on the agenda for in-form Walsham-le-Willows
When three of his more senior players decided to leave the club during the summer, Walsham-le-Willows manager Trevor Collins could have been forgiven for hitting the panic button.
Craig Nurse, Lee Hammond and Sam Peters – players with a combined vast amount of experience at Step 5 level – all switched to fellow Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Lakenheath just a matter of weeks before the new campaign got under way.
Yet there was no sense of alarm from the boss, who was well aware of the quality that the youngsters at his disposal possessed.
And he has been proven right so far, with a narrow defeat to one of the title favourites Wroxham on the opening day followed by three straight victories in all competitions.
Eight goals have been scored during that sequence, while none have been conceded at the other end.
It is a run of form that has pleased Collins, but he still feels there is more to come from his team.
“It didn’t concern me too much (the departures) because it opened the door for the younger players we have at the club,” said the former Bury Town midfielder.
“We knew Jed Wigley was coming back from university, so that covered one area, and we signed Scott McGavin, who has given us a new dimension.
“We have a lot of youngsters, but they’re a year further down the line from last season and it’s showing.
“We wanted to set things up to show them that there is a pathway at the club, that they will get a chance, and it’s great to see so many of them pushing for it.
“Last season was only 16 matches but I saw that very much as phase one for our players. This is now the second phase and the players know that.
“We’ll keep our ambitions and targets in house, but I do think we are only at about 70 or 75 per cent of our potential.”
Tomorrow, Walsham have the opportunity to further extend the good feeling when they head to equivalent-level Potton United in the preliminary round of the Emirates FA Cup (3pm).
The United Counties League Premier Division South side started the campaign with back-to-back wins, but suffered a 4-0 defeat at home to Coventry United last time out.
Collins said: “When you consider the clubs we could have played from a higher level, it’s not a bad draw. Potton will be probably be feeling exactly the same way as well.
“It’s going to be a tough game, especially with it being away from home, but if we play to our levels we’ve got a good chance of getting through.”
Victory for Walsham would see them reach the first qualifying round of the competition for the first time in the club’s history – something they will have to achieve without forward Jamie Smith.
He is suspended after being red carded against Haverhill Rovers, a game that Walsham won 3-0 thanks to goals from Smith, Kieran Twinn and Matt Collins.
After facing Potton, Walsham will travel to Hadleigh United in the league on Tuesday (7.45pm).