Downham Town management shed light on their Thurlow Nunn Premier Division campaign so far
Downham Town have taken to life in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division like a duck to water.
Going into December, the club, with games in hand over the sides above them, find themselves sitting pretty in the league table with a berth in the play-offs.
So why is the club doing so well? Lynn News sports editor Greg Plummer got the verdict from the management team of Dale Stokes and Craig Dickson at the SCL Memorial Field.
In terms of performances what have been your best and worst of the season so far?
"We've had a number of good performances this year. Notably the two victories against Lakenheath but in terms of the best football we've played we'd say the second half away from home at Woodbridge is something we were extremely proud of, especially after a disappointing first half.
"It sticks out as a point where we felt the players realised we are more than capable of beating anyone if we apply ourselves properly.
"On the other hand the home game to Walsham le Willows was a definite low. Credit to the opposition on the day but we weren't at the races at all and paid for it with the result."
How do you view your transition to the Premier Division this season?
"We’ve said for several seasons now that the squad was of Premier Division standard. Now we've got there, we think we are proving ourselves worthy of being in this league.
"There was obviously a bit of apprehension going into it, which was to be expected. We've been competitive in every game and the group is growing in confidence.
"We've become accustom to winning over the last couple of years and keeping that mentality in the group is important if you want to be competitive at the right end of this league."
You lost the services of Magic Smalls and have gained goals with the arrival of Fletcher Toll, has that changed your approach at all?
Magic had a superb start to the season and we wish him well over at March. He's arguably one of the best 17-year-olds we've seen at this level and will be interesting to see how he develops.
"Bringing in Fletcher hasn't really changed our approach at all though."
How has Fletcher settled in since his arrival and what does he bring to the team?
"The players have voted him as our player of the month for November, so I think that tells a lot of the story.
"He's been great to work with so far and takes on little bits of information so quickly. He's been a focal part of our team and his link up play has surprised a few people.
"Obviously we knew it was a big part of what he can bring, as that’s one of the reasons we wanted him, but the quality of it has even exceeded what we expected.
"In terms of bringing others in the game he's been absolutely superb. We all knew he had the capability to find the back of the net and he’s shown that already with seven goals in five games."
Who has had the biggest influence for you on the pitch so far and why?
"George Watts Sturrock has had a superb start to the season. He's probably someone who goes a little bit under the radar to be honest. But the players all appreciate what he does.
"People see the range of passing but he's got a knack of being in the right place defensively and brings a real balance to our team. He’s just an all round intelligent footballer with a brilliant game understanding.
Who has had the biggest influence for you in the dressing room?
"Couple of picks for this, but we think the boys would all say Jake Miller. Dressing room DJ, class clown and really brings a buzz to the group.
"In terms of football side of it, Simon Bird is always one that gets people going and doesn’t allow people to slack. Charlie Butt is another who deserves a mention."
Looking back at the first few months, has there been a turning point as such?
"We don't really feel like we've had our turning point moment this season yet. It’s more of a case that players just realised early on that we are more than good enough to compete in this league.
"I'm sure at some point in the season we will have a bad run or an a set of injuries but we've lost players so far this season which would have killed us in previous seasons (Bird and Blackford especially) and we've managed it well.
What are your hopes for the remainder of the season?
"The play-offs would be an amazing achievement for this group. We've said all season if we've got a chance at the play-offs going into the last month of the season we would be extremely proud of the group.
"Considering everyone was asking us if we think we can stay up, It shows how well these lads have done so far.
"Obviously a cup run would be nice but we've got no real aims in terms of cups and we will take anything as a bonus."
You are regarded as one of the most attractive footballing sides in the division how much delight does this give the management team?
"It's always a nice thing to hear but you have to play to the strengths of the squad you have. We've managed to recruit some technically gifted players over our time in charge and they all want to play the right way.
"We have always put a lot of focus on passing combinations and patterns of play in training and a lot of the lads want to come here because of our style of football.
"Of course it doesn’t always work but we will always encourage them to play and we believe that quality of attack is more important than quantity. So being patient is quite important for this group.
"At the end of the day we want to be competitive and if we felt a different approach was required to achieve that with these players then we would always do what is best for the group and already this season we have had to adapt in games to get the result.
"But it’s certainly pleasing when teams shake hands at the end and compliment the way we’ve played."
What makes the management team work so well together?
"We've got very similar views on football which is obviously important but I think we both have real strengths which complement each other well and make us a decent management team."