Bloaters' fans have high hopes

GREAT Yarmouth Town kick-off their Ridgeons League at Ipswich Wanderers (3pm), and after what has been seen in the pre-season games, the supporters must be full of hope for a successful season.

GREAT Yarmouth Town kick-off their Ridgeons League at Ipswich Wanderers (3pm), and after what has been seen in the pre-season games, the supporters must be full of hope for a successful season.

Paul Tong's additions to his squad have given him the strength in depth throughout which he lacked last season, and competition for places is going to be intense, writes Gerry Brown.

Martyn Magee has added experience and guile to the midfield, Craig Roberts has brought extra height and craft to the back line where the experience of Marcus Saunders has already proved invaluable. And the Portuguese pairing of Junior Bernardo and Vida Formoso have given the team a new and exciting continental twist with their deft footwork and attack-minded passing.

These five newcomers have featured regularly in the pre-season games but there are others from whom fleeting appearances have also shown promise, including several youth players.

Equally important, last season's regulars have remained loyal to the Bloaters: last year's captain Adey Ager looks as strong as ever and the front pairing of Liam Bartley and Jake Reed have enjoyed a profitable summer of goals while fellow-youngsters Adam Sewell and Dominic Smith have both started very well.

Olly Savage, Alan Darby and Gareth Palmer are all available for defensive duties and Stewart Roach and Scott Woodcock, last season's two leading scorers, are also ready to take up the goal challenge again.

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Michael Hilton, when he recovers from injury, looks secure in his goalkeeping spot though his absence has given others, such as Blaine Lowthorpe, the chance to impress. Mark Thompson, Johnny Watt, Toby Gorbould, David Lawrence and Bobby Hill must not be forgotten, and those who miss the first team cut will form a very strong Reserves side which begins its first Ridgeons Reserve League season under new manager Mark Brooks assisted by Andy Deeley.

Tong said he has been pleased with the play and the fitness that the squad have shown in the summer games: “It has gone well, but you get no points for winning pre-season games. It's all about trying to blend the players together and working on systems and how we're going to play.

“We're trying something completely different this year and it's a case of so far so good. We've got the personnel now to adapt our football and I feel we can play with the best.”

Tong and his assistant Trevor Harrison will be looking for nothing less than a winning start, but two who will definitely miss the trip to Ipswich tomorrow are Savage and Roberts, both suspended after misdemeanours late last season.

Yarmouth first team's starting fixtures: August 8 Ipswich Wanderers (A), August 11 Diss Town (A), August 15 Raunds Town (FA Cup H), winners away to Lowestoft Town on August 29.

August 22 FC Clacton (A), August 29 TBC, September 1 Diss Town (H), September 5 Woodbridge Town (FA Vase, A), winners at home to Desborough Town on September 19.

September 8 Team Bury (H).

The Reserves start at Harwich Reserves in the League Cup, Chell Trophy on Saturday August 29 and have their first home game on Saturday September 5 against Leiston Reserves.

The U18s start on Wednesday August 19 at Kirkley & Pakefield U18, to be followed by a visit to Dereham U18 on Tuesday September 1 - both in the Eastern Division.