Dereham Town boss Matt Henman remains confident of title challenge in ‘tough league’

DEREHAM manager Matt Henman insists the league title is tougher than ever to win this year – but he believes his team are in a strong position to make a challenge.

The Magpies were frustrated by the weather again on Saturday as their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division match at home to Stanway Rovers was postponed, but they are confident their Aldiss Park pitch will be fit for the visit of Diss this weekend.

Dereham's challenge has faltered slightly recently with three defeats in their last five outings, but Henman believes their performances have deserved more points.

He said: 'It is a really tough league this year. In previous years there have been two or three teams battling it out at the top, but this season there are six sides up there.

'Every team in the division can take points off each other and in a way that makes it a good, competitive league, but it also means there's no respite. You look at our game this weekend against Diss and they are in the bottom three, but you know it's going to be a tough game.'

Diss were the team who ended Dereham's six-match winning run at the start of the season when the two sides drew 1-1 at Brewers Green Lane in September.

Henman said: 'They've had a new manager since then (Richard Daniels) and they've brought several new players in, so they'll be a tough proposition.

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'A lot of the new players are known to us and they are capable of being a good side, but I just believe that every game we go in to we have a good chance of winning.

'We said that we wanted to be in a position to challenge at the start of the new year and we are there, so I'm more than happy with the first part of the season. Now we've got make sure we finish it off.'

The Magpies have been training indoors at Easton College's equestrian centre and had a session in the snow on Saturday. Henman said: 'It's been as much about getting the boys together as it has about what you can actually do in this weather. But we'll have a full outdoors training session this week on a 3G pitch.'

Dereham will be without striker Shaun Bammant on Saturday as he begins a three-match suspension.

Gary Starling is being rested as he tries to shrug off a niggling injury in order to be fit for the remainder of the season.

Ryan Hawkins is on duty with the county youth side and Jay Eastoe-Smith has not yet returned to training, but Scott Roberts is set to be available.

It will be Diss' first outing since December 29, when they drew against high-flying Gorleston.