Magpies aiming to fly high
Dereham Town's pre-season schedule was designed to ensure they arrived at Saturday's first Ridgeons League Premier Division game with not only good fitness levels but also a freshness and eagerness to do well.
Dereham Town's pre-season schedule was designed to ensure they arrived at Saturday's first Ridgeons League Premier Division game with not only good fitness levels but also a freshness and eagerness to do well. Histon Reserves are Saturday's visitors, followed on Tuesday night by Wisbech.
After last season, when the Magpies were unbeatable in pre-season then had a disappointing start to the league, they have tried to do things slightly differently this time by reducing the number of friendly matches and incorporating much more short, sharp fitness work with the ball.
The games have been encouraging, and after a good workout against Norwich's first team squad, in which they acquitted themselves very well, Town have drawn against Newport Pagnell and won against Fakenham, Gorleston and - last Friday - against Soham.
The other aim pre-season was to give the playing squad more depth in quality. As well as the excellent development of the young players from last season's successful under-18 squad they have also added six players in key areas.
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Shaun Marshall returns, meaning the Magpies have two very good senior goalkeepers, and Gary Starling also returns to the club giving more balance across the back four. Two players joining from Mildenhall are Steve Harley, who has loads of ability and can play in wide or central attacking areas; and Ryan Foster, a midfielder who has won the player of the year awards at his previous clubs.
Also in midfield the Magpies have added Ian Morgan from Acle, who can add bite and quality to central and right areas of the field, and Kyle Downes who they went to watch last season at St Andrews. He is an old-fashioned centre forward who is great with his
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back to goal and a real handful for defenders.
On the negative side, Dereham will begin the campaign without the services of Stuart King, Nicky Howell and Craig Terrington, all of whom have knee injuries left over from last season. The club hopes to have them back training soon.
Everyone seems to be really looking forward to the season, and the league fixtures have given Dereham a chance of a really strong start.
Although the FA Cup and Vase draws could have given them a more comfortable entry, they have thrown up two great games with St Neots away and King's Lynn at home respectively.
Like all football clubs, the Magpies rely on the support of the local community and say it would be fantastic to see many more local supporters at Aldiss Park this season.
They are lucky to already have one of the best home supports in the league, and feel if they can add to those numbers it would make a real difference to the players.