Vase shocks see big two sent packing

The big two – Dereham Town and Wroxham United – crashed out of the FA Vase at the first qualifying round stage at the weekend.

The Magpies, who lead the Ridgeons League Premier Division from their biggest rivals – were beaten 3-0 at home by First Division Thetford Town, while the Yachtsmen went down by a single goal at Mildenhall.

Thetford have a remarkable record in the First Division, winning all of their opening eight games, and when Dereham were reduced to 10 men in the second half they proved just how strong a force they are.

Dereham lost both Ollie Willis and Billy Smith to injury in a disappointing first half littered with niggly fouls and two minutes after the break, Nicky Howell was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Thetford piled on the pressure and made their numeric advantage count in the 58th minute when the ball reached Luke Bailey who calmly netted to put the visitors in front. Sean O'Donnell saw his 25-yard shot just miss the target as they looked to extend their lead and things got worse for the Magpies when debutant Taylor Hastings also received a second yellow in the 71st minute.

A brace of late goals from Matt Dixon left the hosts to claim a big derby scalp.

Wroxham gave a debut to former King's Lynn Town captain Paul Cousins, but it wasn't enough to prevent them slipping out of the Vase to 10-man Mildenhall.

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Cousins, 29, put his recent off-field troubles behind him to make his debut at the back alongside Graham Challen, and comfortably dealt with everything that came his way – until the 86th minute when referee Alan Marshall harshly adjudged Cousins to have fouled Steve Holder, leading to the only goal of the game from David Coooper's resulting free-kick.

'Normally I would hold my hands up if I commit a foul that costs us the match, but there was no need as it was never a free-kick,' he said. 'We both went up for a header with eyes on the ball, as we came down I landed on his foot, so for the ref to give that was very soft.

'But apart from the result it was good to be back playing and the lads have made me feel very welcome.'

In fairness to Mildenhall it was no less than they deserved as they dominated for large spells with Wroxham lacking passion and creativity.

'We don't deserve to be in the Vase with a lazy performance like that,' fumed manager Dave Batch. 'With a man advantage we didn't make it count – we were slow to the ball and didn't create any chances. Apart from Cousins and Challen the rest were poor.'

The hosts played the second-half with 10 men as Carl Murkin saw red for a studs-up challenge on Andy Eastaugh in the 41st minute, but Wroxham were unable to capitalise.

Diss Town went through after a 1-0 home win over Brantham Athletic, while Wisbech beat Walsham-le-Willows 3-0 after extra-time.

A 70th minute error by Brantham keeper Ryan Bedingfield allowed Jason Cole to slide home into an empty net for the only goal of the game at Brewers Green Lane.

The game took an age to find any rhythm and it was Danny Easlea who fired over from 20 yards in the first clear-cut chance of the day. This only seemed to gee the visitors up as Webb made a jinking run into the box before releasing Mann who shot just past the post in the 35th minute.

A few minutes later Gunn tried his luck from 25 yards, narrowly missing the target as Brantham seemed to be the side edging closer and closer to opening the score.

Diss' James Pipe forced Bedingfield to save before Mann at the opposite end brought a superb save from Matty Webster shortly before the break.

The Tangerines started the second half in a more determined manner and Joel Brien and Brendan Foley both had decent chances to score before a comedy of errors gave Diss the lead.

It appeared the sun played a major part in the mistimed clearance by Bedingfield as he skied the ball back over his own head and with Cole in close attendance he was first to the ball and had the simplest of tasks, passing the ball into an empty net.

Brantham did try to force the issue, but were unable to break down the Diss defence as Foley and Stefan Gilding stood firm, although Webster was called into action one final time when he saved well after David Grimwood smashed a low shot from the edge of the box towards the far corner.

Wisbech struggled in the early stages against Walsham, but were only genuinely troubled just before Callum Reed's half-volley from the edge of the area put them in front in the 103rd minute before goals from Ollie Gale and Jon Fairweather in the second half of extra-time.