Local round-up: Dereham go to bottom side; Wroxham's top-four challenge; can Caister widen gap?
PUBLISHED: 12:10 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:10 15 February 2019
Dereham will be looking to extend their unbeaten league run to six games when they travel to bottom side Romford.
The Magpies are revelling in a new lease of life under managers Adam Gusterson and Olly Willis.
They travel to Essex in fine form, having scored 10 goals last week in their victories against Mildenhall and Barking.
However, Gusterson knows Romford will view it as a must win game and expects a close encounter.
“It goes without saying we are delighted with the way we have been playing and our recent run of results,” he said.
“We have been very positive with our approach and that needs to continue against Romford.
“Our front four have been very difficult to play against and as a team we have been very good at getting them the ball and into the game where they can hurt the opposition.
“I think it will be our toughest game since we’ve come in as there is now a bit of expectation on us following recent performances and teams will have also seen our results and will now know not to take us lightly.
“Nearly all of Romford’s points have been accumulated from their home games so we know it is going to be a really big test for us against a team that will view this as a must-win game.
“However, we have been playing really well and if we can get a win, it will give us a 10-point cushion over them which will be difficult for them to claw back on us and this is our focus going into the game.”
Adam Smith is likely to miss out with a hip injury sustained in the win against Barking. Jay Eastoe-Smith is a doubt due to work commitments and keeper Elliot Pride is also unavailable so Jake Cox will deputise.
Teenager Owen Murphy is on duty with the England Colleges team against Italy in the Caput Mundi Cup.
Wroxham will be looking to maintain their top-four place in the Premier Division when they entertain mid-table Haverhill Rovers.
The Yachtsmen went down by a single goal at fellow high-fliers Walsham-le-Willows a week ago, and with so many teams separated by just a few points, know that a slip-up could prove costly. They remain in fourth but know that if results go their way they could be joint second.
Kirkley & Pakefield are three points behind so will be hoping to take advantage should Wroxham fail – the Royals host FC Clacton.
Norwich United are at home to struggling Ely City while Great Yarmouth Town will be hoping to move out of the bottom two when they take on mid-table Whitton United at The Wellesley.
There was some consolation after last week’s loss at Hadleigh, with defeats for fellow strugglers Long Melford and Ely. The Bloaters have games in hand on both teams.
Reflecting on the Hadleigh defeat, joint boss Martyn Sinclair said: “It was a cagey, nervous match and both teams would have seen this is as game not to lose. We knew their dangers but we didn’t switch on to a simple ball over the top on 20 minutes and fell behind.
“Despite equalising pretty quickly we never really did enough in the Hadleigh box to add to the scoreline.
“The decisive second goal we felt was clearly offside but that proved to be enough to take the points. We can’t fault the effort, work rate or desire but we lacked the quality needed in the final third.
“We now have 13 games left to get the points needed. At least our destiny is still in our own hands.”
In the First Division, leaders Harleston go to Haverhill Borough, while Mulbarton Wanderers, four points back, are away to Leiston Reserves. Swaffham Town are a further four points back but have three games in hand on the top two – they are at home to Cornard United.
Leaders Caister host Waveney, having shared the spoils last month in the reverse fixture. Waveney are something of a mixed bag as far as results go: they put a dent in Long Stratton’s title ambitions with a 2-1 home win only to be thumped 5-0 at home by another of the challengers, Sheringham, a week later.
Stratton are second, six points back, and host Beccles Town, while Sheringham, three points behind with three games in hand, are at home to Bradenham Wanderers.