Photo gallery: Thurlow Nunn Premier Division: Dereham Town 2, Wisbech Town 3
- Credit: IAN BURT
Ten-man Wisbech spoiled the party as they came from behind to put Dereham Town's title celebrations on hold tonight.
Ryan Hawkins' first-half strike had looked set to help the Magpies secure their first Thurlow Nunn Premier Division championship. But a thrilling comeback from the Fenmen, who scored three times in 15 second-half minutes, ensured the champagne will remain on ice. The result leaves Dereham four points clear of Steve Appleby's troops, having played a game less, knowing just one win from their final three fixtures will clinch the crown.
The hosts went into the game knowing a draw was all they needed to secure glory. But with second-placed Wisbech desperately hoping to delay the inevitable it was always likely to be a tight affair.
And that's certainly how the match started with little separating the sides in the early exchanges. A fine flick from Chris Bacon created an opening for winger Matt Lunn but his deflected shot was held comfortably by the hosts' number one Andy Wilton.
Striker Luke Tuttle's fantastic free-kick rattled back off the post, in the process creating the best opportunity of the clash for Sam Borrer. But with the goal gaping in front of him, the Magpies' midfielder lashed wildly over from six yards.
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Hawkins missed the target as he dazzled from the left, while the champions-in-waiting took control, before sweeping home after being found at the back stick by Tuttle.
An off-the-ball flashpoint aside, between Craig Bussens and Neal Spafford which saw neither man booked, was the major talking point as the period closed out with Dereham on top. And another bit of brilliance from Hawkins nearly doubled his men's advantage as he jinked inside Jon Fairweather but fired wide.
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However, it was a completely different story after the break as the Fenmen stormed into the lead. Danny White slotted home Lunn's clever cutback before the former Lynn midfielder found the net again – this time heading home Bacon's cross. The provider turned goalscorer when his deflected effort made it three. But Bacon's night turned sour when he was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Matt Howard.
Borrer went close to pulling one back, until Adam Smith did with a looping free-kick, to create a nervy ending to a sensational second-half.
Dereham: Wilton, Murphy, Hannant, Borrer, Howard, Gusterson (Roberts, 79), Hawkins, Smith, Bammant (Howell, 41), Tuttle, Bussens (Kay, 58). Subs not used: Powley, Willis. Goal: Hawkins (28), Smith (87). Booked: Roberts.
Wisbech: Jordan, Fairweather, Cousins, Spafford, Johnson, Reid (Jackson, 83), Millson, White, Reed (Gale, 75), Lunn, Bacon. Subs not used: Roberts, Friend, Reeve. Goal: White (48, 59), Bacon (62), Booked: Spafford, Reed. Red card: Bacon.
Referee: T Nield