Plea to fans to cheer Dereham Town to title glory
- Credit: IAN BURT
Dereham Town chairman Mike Baldry heaped praise on local people for their support for the Magpies - and urged them to turn out in force again on Saturday to roar on the champions elect.
A 3-2 defeat against Wisbech put the celebrations on hold and left Dereham still needing one more win to secure the Thurlow Nunn Premier League title.
It will be the biggest achievement in the club's history and ensure promotion to the next level of the football pyramid.
The Magpies - who had won 11 games on the trot before Tuesday night - face rock bottom Clacton at Aldiss Park on Saturday.
While the management and players are taking nothing for granted, the match gives the club the ideal opportunity to lift the trophy.
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A crowd of 369 was at the ground on Tuesday and Baldry said the club appreciated the support.
'The turnout was absolutely brilliant and we hope to have the same on Saturday and hopefully we will have big celebrations!.
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'It was so good to see a lot of local people and lots of them said they would be coming again.'
Baldry said: 'We are obviously disappointed to have lost and not won the title but we are looking forward to doing it at the weekend.
'The support is a boost for the players and really spurs them on.'
Mr Baldry added that the backing of the community was also essential as the club looked forward to moving up to the Ryman League.
'We are working tirelessly and it is nice to see local people supporting us. There have been lots of offers from people to come up in the close season to do jobs and we are looking forward to improving the ground.'
Dereham boss Matt Henman said the Magpies were naturally disappointed by Tuesday's defeat but remained in pole position to clinch the title.
'We have earned the right to be in the position we are in. It was a little bit disappointing on Tuesday because we had a few there and there were periods during the game when we didn't do ourselves justice and that is what cost us.
'But I said to the lads I know which changing room I would rather be in, and perhaps when the dust settles a little bit they (Wisbech) will wish they were in our position.
'We will come back on Saturday and we will have learned from this, that perhaps we got caught up in the occasion a bit too much and didn't concentrate on our jobs and make sure that on Saturday we don't do that and make sure we finish the job off.'
The facts are that Dereham have three games remaining and have a four-point lead over Wisbech, who have just two games remaining – so a win over Clacton would seal the title, although a draw would be enough should the Fenmen fail to beat Brantham at home.
Tuesday's game changed at half-time, with the Fenmen coming out strongly after a fairly even first 45 minutes.
'We were comfortable,' said Henman. 'We limited their chances and we created some good chances ourselves. We hit the post, and we looked the more likely to score and I didn't think they troubled our goal much.
'But obviously they gave it a bit of a go in the second half, we lost our shape a little bit and we didn't close down areas of the pitch that we wanted to and it cost us.
'I am pretty sure nearly every shot they had has gone in and the third goal was a shot that was going wide, it hit someone in the shins and went in at the far post. That happens and we had chances at the end where perhaps we could have equalised.
'But we have won 11 on the trot before this, so to lose a game, and especially to a team as good as Wisbech, is no great shame.'
The players are also determined to put things right after Tuesday.
Dereham striker Luke Tuttle tweeted after the game: 'Sorry to everyone at the club and the fans that came and gave great support. We were not good enough tonight. Must put it right on Sat #DTFC.'
Wisbech manager Steve Appleby has accepted Dereham will lift the trophy and said his team's victory 'delayed the inevitable.'
*Saturday's game kicks off at 3pm and fans are being advised to arrive early.
*We will be providing coverage from Saturday's key game and if you can't make it, you can follow updates on Twitter via @Edward_Colman or @Ianclarke41. The Dereham Town Twitter feed is @derehamtown.
*We will have a report, reaction and pictures from today's potentially history making match in Monday's EDP.