Dereham Town suffer setback in title challenge
Dereham Tn 1, Mildenhall Tn 4
Dereham's title hopes suffered a setback as they were convincingly beaten at home by fellow challengers Mildenhall.
The Magpies had entered the game with high hopes of moving above their Suffolk opponents – who had been out of action for two weeks – in the table. But instead Mildenhall racked up a comprehensive win to go four points clear of Dereham, who still have a game in hand.
Matt Powley replaced the injured Andrew Wilton in the Dereham goal. However it was visiting keeper Josh Pope who was first called into action having to pounce on Gary Starling's well struck 30 yarder in the third minute.
The home side started confidently and Luke Tuttle forced another save from Pope.
Mildenhall won a free-kick on the right in the 15th minute and full back Darrel Coakley delivered a deep centre beyond Powley but Matt Howard was on hand to head clear. In the 20th minute Mildenhall gained possession from Luke Hannant on the right, with Steve Holder crossing into the box and the ball hit Andrew Wood on the shoulder before entering the net.
Dereham immediately created three chances before Coakley struck a blistering 30-yard drive against Powley's right hand post.
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Holder delivered another cross into the box from the right and James Patterson guided the ball home from close range to increase the visitors' lead in the 29th minute.
Holder then went close twice as Milldenhall continued to pressure the home goal.
In the 39th minute Hannant found Tuttle near the penalty spot with a deep centre but the striker headed wide. Pope then saved well from Shaun Bammant as Mildenhall led 2-0 at half-time.
Dereham needed a quick response at the start of the second half and they produced it when Starling's free-kick found Adam Gusterson, who headed home in the 48th minute.
Pope did well to keep out Bammant's close range effort from Tuttle's cross before Gusterson failed to get on the end of another Tuttle centre as Dereham piled on the pressure.
In the 63rd minute Bammant headed a Gusterson chip onto the visitors' bar. Milldenhall then broke forward with Powley saving well from Wood. From the resulting corner Alex Stead steered Coakley's flag kick into the net to increase the visitors' lead in the 65th minute.
Wood then struck Powley's post with a low drive.
In the 81st minute Scott Sutherland-Gray put Bammant through but the striker was denied by a fine save by Pope and Sutherland-Gray looked to be impeded as he tried to net the loose ball. Powley then made two great saves to prevent both Thomas and then Stead from scoring.
However he was powerless to prevent the unmarked Paterson from slotting home in the 90th minute to complete the scoring.