As good as it gets, says Dereham boss
Dereham boss Matty Henman was left relishing his best moment in football after masterminding one of the biggest shocks in Norfolk football this week.
The Magpies dumped Norwich City out of the Norfolk Senior Cup with a 2-1 win at Carrow Road on Tuesday to set up a final against either King's Lynn Town or Thetford Town, who lock horns next week to decide the other finalists.
Dereham took a two-goal lead through Kyle Downes and Gary Starling before City replied in the final minute with a goal from Anthony McNamee.
There were some tense moments as the Canaries – with five first team squad members starting – peppered Shaun Marshall's goal, but the visitors held on for a famous victory.
'Being selfish, that's probably the best feeling I have ever had in football,' said Henman, who suffered a shock of his own last season when Dereham were knocked out in the semi-finals by Mattishall.
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'I am a massive Norwich fan. This is the first time I have ever managed or played in a competitive game at Carrow Road and it just makes up for last year and all the years I have not made it here. It's a double whammy – beating Norwich in a competitive game at Carrow Road and making it to a final. I am just over the moon.
'We obviously knew looking at their side where their experience and strengths were. We said before the game we are never going to be able to stop everything that they throw at us, so what we concentrated on was to stop the things that were the biggest problems and maybe the smallest problems, let them happen.
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'We have had to defend our box, we have had to defend crosses, we have had to throw bodies in the way. Marshy has had to make saves, but that is what you expect, you expect them to have a lot of possession. What we said was maybe don't get worried if they have a lot of possession, be prepared for that and when we get the ball let's try and play and keep it as much as we can and that's what I thought we did excellently.
'Marshy has made such a difference to us this year – he's a quality goalkeeper. I think if you are going to get to finals and win things that's where you start from and he has made a big difference to us all season and again today when called upon made two or three great saves and his handling is always safe – it gives everyone a lot of confidence.'
Downes' opener on 22 minutes stunned City, if not Henman, who said: 'We identified that, because they play with their full backs very high and that is their outlet, when we win possession back perhaps we can get a runner in the channel and get one-on-one with the centre half, which happenedd. Kyle has gone to it very quickly and used his strength and it's a great finish. I am so pleased because he was playing Anglian Combination football last year and he has worked so hard this year and he has been a real hit for us.'
If that was good, then Starling's long-range free-kick winner was sweet: 'Gary has got a great left foot,' Henman said. 'As soon as the free-kick was given I thought, 'that is his kind of area'.'
• Norwich City Academy chief Ricky Martin says his young players will have learned valuable lessons from the club's return to the Norfolk Senior Cup – even though the journey came to an abrupt and surprising end on Tuesday night.
'Overall I think it has been good,' said Martin. 'It's about playing against men and being a bit more robust and a little bit more streetwise, rather than just playing against their own age group and their own peers.
'So, yes, that is vital and that is why we do it in pre-season as well, going around the county and playing senior games with the youth team because they need to be able to do that. There are more opportunities for the young lads to play against senior players which is very, very important.'