Dereham Town rewarded for patient display
Matty Henman praised his players after Dereham Town came from behind to beat Thetford 4-2 and maintain the fight for their first Eastern Counties league title.
Thetford went ahead against the run of play through Tom Dew, but once Dereham got their noses in front there was only ever going to be one winner, and goals from Luke Tuttle, Gary Starling, Scott Sutherland-Gray and Shaun Bammant banked three points which keeps the Magpies on the shoulders of second-placed Mildenhall – who visit Aldiss Park next weekend.
'What we were really hoping to do was get an early goal and it was a bit disappointing having started so well that we missed chances and then went behind,' said Magpies boss Henman, whose side were coming off the back of a 2-0 defeat at in-form Gorleston in midweek.
'But I think we then showed a lot of character to equalise by half-time with a great goal by Luke Tuttle.
'After that it was probably about being patient and waiting for chances. I thought having gone 3-1 up we could probably have controlled the game better, but they never gave up and kept coming back at us and coming back at us and scored a second which obviously made it a little bit nervous. But our fourth goal was a great goal and that really sealed it for us.'
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The game wasn't without its controversies, with Thetford denied an equaliser soon after Dereham's second goal for a foul on the keeper, and then seeing home keeper Andy Wilton shown only a yellow card for bringing down James Pipe as he headed for goal, with the striker scoring from the resulting penalty.
'There have been times in the last five or six games where everything seems to be against us,' said Thetford boss Mark Scott.
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'It feels like I am just moaning and complaining, but it was blatant – the keeper brings the player down – the referee gives a penalty and he gives the keeper a yellow card.
'I don't understand it. I asked the referee and he said he was going away from goal – but he was one on one with the keeper.
'It is moments like that that change games – there were several other decisions, but I am not going to get hung up on it – the referee had an appalling game, an absolutely appalling game.'
Two goals in the first 14 minutes consigned Kirkley & Pakefield to a 2-0 defeat at home to one of Dereham's title rivals, Brantham Athletic.
The visitors took the lead after four minutes following a defensive mistake and 10 minutes later they doubled their advantage with a header from a free-kick on the left.
Two early goals also decided the game at Wivenhoe, where Norwich United lost 2-1 to the relegation battlers.
Wivenhoe were 2-0 up after just five minutes, before the stunned Planters pulled one back with 26 minutes on the clock. Jamie George intercepted a back pass to score from a tight angle, but the visitors were unable to force an equaliser.
Walsham-le-Willows beat Felixstowe & Walton 1-0 to move three points clear at the top.
In the First Division, the four Norfolk sides were in derby action as Great Yarmouth beat Fakenham 3-0 and Swaffham won 2-0 at Downham.
Yarmouth – who have won three and drawn one of the four league and cup meetings against Fakenham this season – went ahead on five minutes when teenager Rorie Burnett headed home.
Josh Thomas doubled the lead midway through the first half and substitute Danny Scriven added the third late in the game from the penalty spot.
Swaffham completed the double over Downham this season with first half goals from Jamie Buhlemann and captain Dean Miller.