Stage is set for Norfolk Senior Cup final
Dereham boss Matty Henman believes tonight's Norfolk Senior Cup final against King's Lynn at Carrow Road offers a fitting finale to the county's non league season. (7.30pm)
The Magpies were Norfolk's leading club in the Ridgeons Premier Division with Lynn pushing St Neots all the way in the UCL Premier Division title race.
Both also contested a pulsating FA Vase tie which Lynn won in extra-time at Aldiss Park earlier in the season en route to the semi-finals.
Henman believes near misses for the duo in league and cup combat only heightens the sense of occasion ahead of this evening's delayed showpiece.
'Obviously at the start of the season the aim is to win something and despite people saying both ourselves and King's Lynn have had good seasons, neither of us have won anything,' he said. 'That brings a certain pressure to win. I'm sure Setch (Gary Setchell) and Boony (Kevin Boon) would themselves have expected to win something at the start of the season. I think it would be a bit of anti-climax to finish the season with nothing to show for it so for that reason we are desperate to win the game.
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'It's two evenly-matched teams with a lot of quality on both sides. I think it could boil down to a bit of quality or a mistake. I'm sure it'll be a great atmosphere. We'll bring a few and I can absolutely guarantee King's Lynn will take a few and there'll be very loud in their support. I don't think it'll be a case of me having to motivate the lads.'
The Norfolk duo completed their respective league programmes on April 30 but Norwich City's Championship promotion success and civic parade led to a second postponement last week after the original date was moved to protect the Carrow Road playing surface.
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'Let's be brutally honest, it's not the right preparation for a game as prestigious as this,' said Lynn joint boss Boon. 'We understand Norwich are the number one club in Norfolk and it is a tremendous achievement what they have done. We'll get on with it. We have a squad that will be partly our first team plus the good, young reserves and those lads have a chance to make an impression on the management.
'It's a tremendous occasion at Carrow Road, a great stadium to go and play football and we will show plenty of passion and commitment to try and win the game. I'm sure Dereham will be thinking the same.'
Lynn are without Pat Bexfield (suspension) and Ross Watson (cup-tied) whilst Jamie Alsop and Robbie Harris are away. Brady Stone is injured (hamstring) and midfielder Danny White has also been ruled out (tonsilitis). The Magpies go into the game with injury concerns over Adam Smith (thigh) and Nicky Howell (hamstring). Seamus Kelleher, Scott Roberts, John Higgs and assistant Neal Simmons are also unavailable.
Town hotshot Harris settled a tight FA Vase tie in September – and Boon is wary of a potential backlash.
'I'm sure there might be an element of revenge on their part,' he said. 'But whoever wins this game I think we'll both know it's not in quite the same circumstances because of the make up of the teams. Make no mistake, Dereham are a very decent side at our level. They have a fantastic set-up and they have great people who run the club and who back the club.'
Henman admits both finalists are familiar foes.
'Boony and Setch know our players and vice versa,' he said. 'It comes down to the players in the end and hopefully someone can produce a bit of magic. I think what hurt us that day and what decided the game is we had a couple of injuries and whereas we brought on two relatively inexperienced lads, King's Lynn were able to bring on Steve Spriggs and Robbie, who scored the winner. We were leading for a large part until they equalised late on, but we both know where each other's main threat comes from.'