Dereham Town wary of Ryman League North hitman Jason Hallett
- Credit: Joe Dent/JMP
Dereham Town hope to shackle one of Ryman League North's top strikers as they look to make it 13 games unbeaten, writes Rene Kendal.
Dereham fought hard to secure another home win against Romford on Saturday to stretch their unbeaten run to a delightful dozen.
But this Saturday presents Matt Henman's side with another tough challenge as they travel to face Cheshunt, eighth, who sit one place above them in the table.
Both sides will have one eye on a play-off position but the four teams immediately above Cheshunt have games in hand over the pair of them.
The north London club beat Dereham 4-0 at Aldiss Park in October with the league's second top goalscorer Jason Hallett netting a brace.
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Henman said: 'They beat us at home but we played well in the first half and should have been ahead at the break.
'They have one of the best strikers in the league in Jason Hallett, so we will have to keep him quiet.'
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Hallett's tally of 26 goals, which includes just one penalty, has only been bettered by AFC Hornchurch's George Purcell. He has found the net on just one more occasion.
The in-form Magpies go into the match having prevailed on a sticky pitch at the weekend against Romford. Dereham spurned several good chances in the first half with visiting keeper Michael Gooch making a string of excellent saves, including Luke Tuttle's penalty shortly before half-time. The striker rarely misses from the spot and his 16 league goals this season have included six penalties.
The Magpies upped the tempo in the second half but it was not until the 77th minute that they scored the all-important winner with Jake Anema blasting home from 25 yards after Frazer Blake-Tracy's cross had been headed out to him.
Henman added: 'The game was all about getting a result. In difficult conditions, we were off the pace in the first half but came out for the second with more commitment and desire.
'Robbie Linford (who came into the side with Sam Borrer and Adam Smith missing) gave a good performance during his debut in midfield and we were obviously pleased to keep our run going.'
Dereham will be boosted by the return of influential midfielder Smith and Payton Swatman at Cheshunt. Borrer remains a slight doubt with a muscle strain. However, talented youngsters Linford, Seb Bialasik and Matt Cook will all be missing as they will be representing Norfolk Under-18s on Sunday.
Dereham's managerless reserve side, following Wayne Anderson's return to Fakenham, are without a fixture this weekend which will give Henman more time to appoint a suitable replacement. They return to Thulow Nunn League First Division at Haverhill Borough on Tuesday.