Ryman North: Dereham Town 4 Heybridge Swifts 2
- Credit: Archant
Dereham Town kept their play-off bid on track with hard-fought win at Aldiss Park.
The Magpies were behind after four minutes, when Emmanuel Monthe powered home a close-range header from Joe Pearman's cross.
And it could have been worse for Dereham when Paul White was gifted the ball following a defensive mix-up, but the midfielder fired wide.
Dereham had two chances to draw level in the 15th minute, with Aaron Kay driving a long-range free-kick into Danny Sambridge's arms before the Heybridge keeper was forced to make a fine save at the far post to deny Louis Mason after Matt Hockley's ball had been deflected into his path.
The Magpies pressed again, with Ryan Hawkins shooting weakly at the keeper after racing forward following keeper Andy Wilton's precise throw.
But from their next attack Kay released Hawkins and as the forward attempted to round Sambridge, the keeper brought him down in the box and Michael Clunan made no mistake from the spot, on 25 minutes.
Clunan then saw a free-kick drift narrowly wide, but the Mapgies pressure finally paid off in the 36th minute with Hawkins side-footing home Toby Hilliard's flick from Clunan's free-kick to put Dereham ahead.
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Their joy was short-lived, though, as Heybridge soon restored parity, Marcel Henry-Francis scoring from the spot after a handball was harshly giving against Jay Eastoe-Smith in the 39th minute.
Dereham made a good start after the break, with Nathan Page whistling a 30-yarder over the top. Eastoe-Smith and Hawkins then both hit fruitless long-range efforts.
As Dereham continued to press, Hawkins had a 20-yarder blocked before forcing Sambridge into a vital save inside his post from the rebound in the 69th minute.
Heybridge were reduced to 10 men in the 70th minute when Jordan Willmore received a second yellow for a foul on Hawkins.
Dereham took full advantage, restoring the lead their pressure deserved six minutes later, with Hawkins moving well between the Heybridge centre backs to dispatch Clunan's slide-rule pass.
In the 81st minute Hawkins was again upended in the box by defender Ryan Lowton and once again the reliable Clunan scored from the spot to give Dereham a commanding lead and secure victory.
Dereham: Wilton, Barker, Blake-Tracy, Hockley, Eastoe-Smith, Morphew, Kay, Clunan, Hilliard, Mason, Hawkins. Subs: Clarke, Howard, Page, Sturman.
Heybridge Swifts: Sambridge, Willmore, Barber, Gayle, Olafunmishe, Monthe, Pearman, White, Henry-Francis, Morgan, Hunt. Subs: Lowton, Akurang, Good, James, Spriggs.
Ref: Matthew Law.