Dereham Town keep up chase at top of Thurlow Nunn league

Dereham Town strengthened their claim at the top end of the Premier League table as three of their major rivals suffered disappointing weekends.

The Magpies' 4-1 home win over Kirkley & Pakefield moved them into third, four points behind leaders Mildenhall with three games in hand.

Mildenhall went top after beating Thetford Town 4-2, with Walsham-le-Willows down to second after losing 4-3 at Brantham.

But Gorleston were held to a 1-1 draw at struggling Diss Town, and drop to fifth, while Wisbech's game at home to Felixstowe & Walton United was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.

Dereham's fortunes might just become a little clearer on Wednesday when they travel to Gorleston. But for the moment they will be happy enough to have seen off one of the early front-runners.

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Ollie Willis, Luke Tuttle and Adam Smith all returned to the Dereham starting line-up as they looked to recover from their Boxing Day defeat at home to Norwich United.

They were behind after only eight minutes, when they failed to clear a cross from the right and Scott Manning slotted past Andy Wilton.

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But the Magpies soon responded when Shaun Bammant rose at the far post to beat Kirkley keeper Jordan Smith with a downward header following Tuttle's deep free-kick from the left in the 14th minute.

Dereham went ahead five minutes before half-time when midfielder Adam Smith netted from close range after Tuttle's initial shot had been blocked.

The second half started in a lively fashion, but there were no chances until impressive Dereham full-back Ryan Hawkins curled a right-footer from the left inches over Smith's bar.

On three occasions Matt Howard thwarted Kirkley attacks before Luke Hannant narrowly missed the target with an angled drive.

Scott Sutherland-Gray replaced Bammant in the Magpies attack and soon made an impact. After keeper Smith had let a Tuttle cross from the left slip from his grasp the striker gleefully stabbed the ball home from close range on 73rd minutes.

Dereham increased their lead when Smith released Aaron Kay who invited Tuttle to cross again from the left and Sutherland-Gray was on hand again to net Dereham's fourth in the 82nd minute.

Gorleston's run of four wins on the trot was ended by former boss Richard Daniels' Diss Town.

Christie Finch put the Greens ahead early in the second half before Diss levelled in the 65th minute when Matt Dixon tapped in from close range for his fifth goal in five starts since his recent move from Norwich United.

His former team-mates drew 1-1 at home to Godmanchester Rovers, while goals by Tom Dew and Keiran Morphew were Thetford's only reward at Mildenhall Town.

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