Pressure-free Dereham Town aim to cause FA Cup upset

07:00 17 September 2016

Striker Ryan Crisp, on the ball for Dereham Town against Norwich United, netted in Tuesdays 4-1 loss at Phoenix Sports.

Striker Ryan Crisp, on the ball for Dereham Town against Norwich United, netted in Tuesdays 4-1 loss at Phoenix Sports.


Matt Henman hopes Dereham Town can turn up the heat and make St Albans City melt in an Aldiss Park FA Cup second qualifying round pressure cooker.

The Magpies are huge underdogs going into today’s second qualifying clash with the National League South visitors plying their trade two tiers above them in the non-league ladder. If you throw in the fact that Dereham have lost their last two matches and are a lowly 18th in Ryman League Division One North, while the Saints sit third in their table, everything points to a routine afternoon for City.

But Henman is only too well aware that it isn’t easy being the favourite to progress having seen off lower-level Yaxley, via a replay, and Holbeach United to progress. And now he’s glad that the shoe is on the other foot.

Dereham’s boss said: “They will be expecting to win and we can allow them to make all the running. If we can contain them we know we can cause them problems.

“The longer the game goes on the more nervous they will become, and so will their fans. It suits us to not go hell for leather and although we need to find a way to go out and win games, we’ve regularly done well by making ourselves difficult to beat. We’ll certainly have to deal better with set- pieces because out of nowhere it’s become a bit of an Achilles heel for us. But we’ll have worked hard on that this week to try and put it right.

“The pressure is off. It’s a unique game and we’re definitely going to pick a side, and set up in a way, specifically for the game. It will probably be a formation we haven’t played coupled with a game plan that maybe will help us pull off a bit of a shock and ignite our season.

“I thought that was the case when we beat Ware (last Tuesday), having beaten Holbeach, but two defeats have kicked us in the proverbials. We’ve got Saturday and there’s one eye on a big league derby against Norwich United on Tuesday and these two games can really give us a lift if we approach them in the right way.”

Henman declared his side, in their fourth season at Step Four of the pyramid, were gearing up for a serious play-off push this summer. But it’s been a stuttering start so far – not helped by a lack of player availabilty and injuries.

Three more will miss out today, cup-tied duo Danny Beaumont and Jackson Ramm and the unavailable Vadim Constandachi, while Michael Sommerfield is rated as 50/50 having sustained a recent concussion.

But there is some good news with Jay Eastoe-Smith and Dan Morphew returning to the fold after a disappointing 4-1 defeat at league leaders Phoenix Sports on Tuesday.

Henman added: “We’re underachieving but I do think we’re not too far away. It’s just frustrating. I’ve not picked the same side for two games in a row, nowhere near it in fact.

“They were two disappointing games and two disappointing 
defeats in the manner of the performances.

“We haven’t had too many disappointing spells over the last few years but we’re in one and we need to find a way out of it.

“We lost control of the game (on Saturday, 3-1 home loss against Bowers & Pitsea) for about 20 minutes and it was carelessness that cost us. On Tuesday we were just second best.”

The winner of the tie – which will be decided by a replay if scores are level after 90 minutes – will pocket £4,500 prize money.


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