Dereham 2, Wroxham 1
Magpies' boss Matty Henman is not ruling out a late Ridgeons Premier Division title tilt after last night's hard-fought derby win over Wroxham.
Gary Starling's low free kick settled a bruising encounter at Aldiss Park after hot shot Danny Beaumont had cancelled out Damian Hilton's second minute opener. Dereham moved level on points with David Batch's side into second place, but still trail FA Vase quarter-finalists Leiston by eight points having played a game more.
'It depends on them probably more than us to be fair,' said Henman. 'I'm confident that we can now go on and get a good number of decent results. What I don't know if they can lose two or three games. The thing is we still have to go and play them twice. The bottom line is that we have to probably beat them twice, which is six points straight away, and then maybe seen if they can drop a couple of other games.
'They've only won a few by the odd goal and they have the FA Vase to contend with so we just have to keep doing our job and hope that maybe they slip up here or there.'
Henman was delighted to claim the derby spoils in the first league meeting of the season with the Yachtsmen.
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'Perhaps the result was even more important than the performance,' he said. 'It was a 100mph game and a lot of competitiveness which you would expect with pride at stake as well. Just the sort of game that we needed and the sort of performance that we needed. You could see that both sides like to play football and there was glimpses of that but in a lot of stuff was in the air and about getting bodies around the ball. They were a little bit bigger and stronger than us and we had to cope with that but perhaps we had a bit more pace and youth.
'It's a great game to be involved in from that perspective – probably not one for the purist – but I'm happy because we got the result.'
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Craig Bussens hammered over inside the opening minute in a positive sign of intent from the hosts but Hilton rifled home from six yards with Wroxham's first foray into the opposition penalty area.
Beaumont dragged Dereham level on ten minutes when he latched onto Kyle Downes flick to calmly slot past Nathan Pauling from the edge of the box. Shaun Marshall confidently clutched Gary Gilmore's dipping volley before Shaun Howes' challenge on Bussens sparked the first of a series of skirmishes between the derby rivals.
Marshall foiled Josh Carus with his outstretched leg from close range on the restart after Hilton's far post header dropped invitingly to the centre back. Starling's low free kick deceived Pauling on 56 minutes after the excellent Adam Smith's surging run was halted 20 yards out. Adam Gusterson lofted a sharp chance over from 16 yards with Dereham looking to put the game beyond doubt in the closing stages after a spell of Wroxham pressure. Pauling then beat away Bussens' angled hit before Beaumont's follow up was deflected behind in a strong finish from the Magpies.
• Dereham: Marshall, Willis, Starling, Gusterson, Eastoe-Smith, Beaumont (Manning 90), Roberts (Butcher 85), Smith, Downes (Higgs 90), Borrer, Bussens. Subs (not used): Cross, Kelleher.
• Bookings: Beaumont, Downes, Starling, Smith, Butcher
• Goals: Beaumont (10), Starling (56)
• Wroxham: Pauling, Self, Howes, Challen, Carus, Heald (Mustafa 35 (Langlois 63)), Gilmore (Cook 89), Lemmon, Hilton, Bloomfield, Marsden. Subs (not used): Atkins, Boswell.
• Bookings: Lemmon, Challen
• Goal: Hilton (3)
• Referee: John Turner
• Attendance: 197