Play-off chasing Dereham Town so ready for final Ryman North push

Dereham's Ryan Hawkins feels the full force of a Brentwood challenge. Picture: MATTHEW USHER

Dereham's Ryan Hawkins feels the full force of a Brentwood challenge. Picture: MATTHEW USHER - Credit: Matthew Usher

Dereham Town will be looking to boost their chances of breaking into the Ryman North play-off places when they visit lowly Maldon & Tiptree United on Saturday, writes Ed Colman.

The Magpies' 2-1 victory over fourth-placed Brentwood at the weekend saw the Aldiss Park outfit rise to sixth – just one point behind fifth-placed Thurrock who occupy the final play-off spot. They have 81 points from 44 games compared to Dereham's 80 from the same amount of matches with just two to play. And the Magpies' boss Matt Henman praised his side for the concentration they have shown in recent weeks.

'There is a real focus from all of the lads at the minute,' Henman said.

'They take no motivating and are showing a great attitude in both training and matches and there is a real buzz about the place, which is a great feeling to have. We all know that we need to pick up as many points as possible from our last two games, keeping the pressure on the sides above us and – like Brentwood showed on Tuesday night – sides will slip up, so we have to make sure we take advantage if and when they do.

'We are playing very well at the moment and while our form is completely different to Maldon, we know that they will be battling to stay in the league after being dragged into a relegation scrap.

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'So we go there knowing that they will be up for a fight, so it is going to be a tough test for us but if we play like we have in recent weeks then we will give ourselves a great chance of continuing our good run.'

Magpies defender Daniel Morphew faces a late fitness test ahead of the fixture but Henman believes his squad is perfectly poised for the run in.

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He said: 'I think our bench has been really important to us over recent weeks. Last week we took Dan Morphew off at half-time and we were able to bring on a player with the quality of Harry Barker, which makes a big difference when you have quality to come on and change things off the bench.

'In general I think we have got a great mix in our squad and that every player in the squad has the ability to be a key player for us, depending on the situation, like on Saturday we bought on Kyle Downes who was key to holding the ball up in the final third.

'Over the last few weeks, we have had to really mull over the squad and while some players have been disappointed to be left out, that is the nature of the beast.'

Thurrock host Waltham Abbey, 16th, on Saturday while Wroxham – seventh and two points behind Dereham – entertain 10th-placed Aveley.

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