Wroxham display killer instinct to see off rivals Dereham Town in big Ryman North derby
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
Manager Stewart Larter praised the clinical nature of his Wroxham side after late strikes from Remy Gordon and Christy Finch saw them to a dogged win over rivals Dereham Town.
The Yachtsmen had to dig deep against Matt Henman's Magpies – who arguably were the better side for most of the second half – but, as has been the mark of Wroxham's season so far, their ability to take chances at the right time paid dividends again.
'Two bits of quality have won us the game today,' Larter said.
'We huffed and puffed a bit but we got the three points and that's what matters.
'It's really important to win games when you aren't playing well. We did that today; we stayed in the game really well and had that extra quality at the end from Finchy and Remy to seal the win. Only time will tell how big it will be.'
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A rather cagey opening period burst into life on the half-hour mark as the hosts – like Dereham battling to land one of four Ryman North play-off places – took the lead through Stephen Taylor.
A Gordon corner was cleared before finding its way back to the winger, who whipped in a lovely deep cross that found the Wroxham full back unmarked at the back post to head home.
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This joy was short lived however as Dereham responded in kind, Ryan Hawkins bagging his fourth goal in as any games against Wroxham two minutes later.
Ben Price was dispossessed in his own half to spark a Dereham counter attack, the ball finding its way to Hawkins via a Liam Wales flick in the inside left position, the winger keeping his cool to lift the ball over the advancing Elliot Pride and in.
The second half started in a very subdued manner – with neither side able to gain any sort of ascendancy – before Dereham began to push their foot onto the accelerator just before the hour mark.
A Hawkins free-kick on 55 minutes deceived everybody – including Wales at the back post – before Pride made a crucial double stop three minutes later, spilling the first effort from Hawkins, before reacting superbly to block the rebound from Craig Bussens.
Sadly, this would be the last contribution from the Dereham midfielder as he was stretchered off five minutes later after going down awkwardly from an Andy Howell challenge.
This break in play seemed to help the Yachtsmen and they rallied, finding a goal out of nowhere after a deliciously dipping ball in from Finch in the 75th minute looped over Wilton and onto Gordon's head, who couldn't miss.
And as Dereham pressed for a response, Wroxham capitalised on the space at the back to break and score in injury time through the mercurial Finch – the striker slamming home from 10 yards after some great running from Nathan Stone to consolidate his side's top-five place – and put a severe dent in one of their closest rivals' chances.
The victory leaves Wroxham sitting fifth, in the last play-off spot, and four points ahead of the seventh-placed Magpies – who have now played a game more than their Norfolk rivals. Since breaking into the top five a few weeks ago, the Magpies have gone on to draw one and lose three matches, slipping slightly off the pace. But they still have nine matches left to claw their way back into qualifying for the end-of-season shoot-out for promotion – an effort they will have to do without influential midfielder Bussens.
In a massive blow for the player, and the club, Magpies' manager Henman confirmed on Twitter after the match that his injured player had 'broken and dislocated his ankle.' He added: 'Not great news and I'm sure he appreciates everyone's best wishes.'
Wroxham: Pride, Taylor, Price, Hinton, Howell, Halliday, Garrod (Swatman, 89), White (King, 86), Forshaw (Stone, 89), Finch, Gordon. Unused: Guyton, Rust. Booked: Taylor, Hinton.
Dereham: Wilton, Willis, Blake-Tracy (Wallace, 82), Hockley, Barker, Morphew, Kay (Clunan, 56), Borrer, Wales, Hawkins, Bussens (Tuttle, 66). Unused: Bailey, Sturman.
Ref: D Stobart.