Dereham take step closer to Wembley

Larkhall 2, Dereham Town 4Dereham dramatically joined Lowestoft Town in the last 16 of the FA Vase for the first time - and finally silenced the reminiscences of manager Matty Henman.

Larkhall 2, Dereham Town 4

Dereham dramatically joined Lowestoft Town in the last 16 of the FA Vase for the first time - and finally silenced the reminiscences of manager Matty Henman.

Seven years ago Henman was a key member of the Magpies side which reached the last 32 before losing in fourth round replay at Durham.

"They are a bit sick of hearing about it," he admitted after Dereham earned a fifth round visit to Ridegons League rivals Needham Market on February 7. "And the chairman mentioned it to them the night before the game, saying that one of the bonuses if they won would be that it would be the last time they heard me talking about it."

Regardless of how far Dereham go this time, Henman may still be talking about Saturday's success in another seven years.

After all the frustration of the previous weekend, when they travelled overnight only to have the game called off on Saturday morning, Dereham made full amends by winning a full-blooded, passionate tie on a Plain Ham mudbath.

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The passion might, indeed have proven costly as Paul Atkins was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for over-enthusiastic celebration of penalty which put the Magpies in front for the first time on the hour mark.

"I take some of the blame for that," said Henman. "Before the game I had reminded the players of the importance of remembering all the fans who were travelling down, some of them for the second week, and acknowledging them when they celebrate a goal.

"As the penalty went in Paul ran up to the rail and hugged some of the fans. He didn't cross the barrier and the fans stayed on their side of the rail.

"I really feel for Paul. He'd been brave enough to take a great penalty - and I don't think the referee had any empathy for the situation. After all, there were only 250 people at the game, and it's not as if there was going to be a pitch invasion."

Ironically the original postponement should mean that Atkins will be clear to play in the next round, with his suspension expected to start in three weeks time.

That Dereham will be travelling to Suffolk rather than having another long overnight trek was an added bonus - Needham Market having caused an upset on Saturday by beating holders Fylde 2-1 in the North West.

"Once I knew the draw I would have preferred Needham Market rather than Fylde, for no other reason than that we know more about them," said Henman, who added that it may be hard to keep the 'W' word out of his players' minds with the final only three rounds away.

"I'd be lying if I said we won't have thoughts of Wembley - it's the dream isn't it? And you can't help it being in the back of your mind."

Dereham had the worst possible start at the picturesque ground in the hills above Bath, Jim Jefferson volleying the Larks in front after only two minutes. But Nicky Howell stabbed the equaliser four minutes later and Larkhall were reduced to ten men on the half hour when defender Lee Burns was shown a straight for an elbow on Danny Beaumont.

The turnaround could have been completed just before the interval when Dereham were awarded a penalty for a foul on Sam Willis, but Beaumont's spot-kick hit the bar.

After Atkins had made Dereham's second penalty count, Graham Barrett made it 3-1. Dave Bailey brought Larkhall back into the game with a scrambled effort - but Beaumont made up for his penalty miss by cracking the fourth in the 77th minute.

"It was a fantastic team effort from everyone - including the lads on the bench, the staff, the committee and the fans, " said Henman. "We can all be proud of a fantastic day for the club."