Dereham end season in style by taking a point against the champions
- Credit: Archant
Dereham ended their Premier B campaign on a positive note, claiming a creditable 1-1 draw at runaway league champions Cambridge City II.
The result was all the more remarkable given the fact that the Reds played without a recognised goalkeeper, with defender Andy Howarth donning the pads in the absence of Matt Collinge.
Howarth, who was named man-of-the-match after a string of fine saves, was beaten midway through the first half when Dougie Rice fired home following a counter-attack. Dereham went close to restoring parity before the break through Falko Rosbergen, James Lavers and returning veteran Rich Stainthorpe.
Dereham continued to create chances in the second half before drawing level in superb fashion. The ever-dangerous Will Edwards stole possession in Cambridge territory and found Rosbergen, who unselfishly opted to pass rather than shoot, enabling Lavers to tap into an empty net.
Dereham almost snatched a winner in the final seconds when Rosbergen and Edwards both went close, the latter rattling the frame of the goal with a fine backhand effort.
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'We finished the season with a very good performance, which is exactly what I asked for,' said captain Ed Turner. 'We always knew this season was going to be about stabilising and rebuilding, following relegation. I think we have come on leaps and bounds over the past three or four months, and next season our target will be to get promoted.'
Harleston Magpies recorded an emphatic 5-0 win at lowly Blueharts in their penultimate Premier A fixture.
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The victory kept hopes of a top-four finish alive, but to achieve that Magpies will have win their final match at promotion chasing St Albans next Saturday.
They travelled down to Hitchin with just 11 players, with club stalwart Tristan Baynes and Under-16 player Jude Pottruff coming into the side.
But the visitors soon took control and were 4-0 up at the break, with Mark Flatman scoring two goals and Andrew Bedwell and Baynes also on target.
It was a closer game in the second half, but Pottruff was able to add a fifth goal.
Norwich City II took the derby honours against Norwich Dragons in a re-arranged midweek fixture in Division Two North East.
The already promoted hosts won 4-0 with Tom Hindle (2), Stuart Wardle and Jeremy Elliott getting the goals.