Magpies in the mood: Ryman League North Dereham Town aiming to kick on in 2016
- Credit: PA
Dereham Town will start 2016 in good spirits with the club poised to challenge for a play-off place as well as having a Norfolk Senior Cup quarter-final against Spixworth to look forward to, writes Rene Kendal.
The Magpies finished the year in fine style by extending their unbeaten run to eight games with a hard fought 2-1 win at Bury on Boxing Day. After falling behind to Justin Rose's header from Cemal Ramadan's corner in the 15th minute, Dereham hit back in the second half with Louis Mason linking well with Luke Tuttle to set up Adam Smith for the equaliser in the 76th minute.
Within minutes Rhys Logan was upended in the box by home keeper Neil O'Sullivan and Tuttle again slotted home from the spot to ensure Dereham left Ram Meadow with the Ryman League North points.
The win elevated Matt Henman's side to ninth place in the table. Having lost several of last season's squad to higher-level sides, this is a great achievement with Henman making some excellent signings and also utilising the club's young DESA (Dereham Education and Soccer Academy) players to good effect.
Henman, who is happy with the attitude and commitment from his squad, said: 'There is a nice atmosphere in the dressing room at the moment.
'The experienced players, as well as performing well individually, have had a good effect on the younger lads who have been used. Although during the past few weeks we have not had a settled side due to injuries, the core has been regular and the young lads who have come in have done well.'
Henman is obviously pleased with the current unbeaten run which started with a 1-0 win against Heybridge Swifts on November 14 and has seen the Magpies accumulate 17 points.
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The Dereham boss aded: 'After an inconsistent start we have now found our rhythm and confidence.
'We feel that we can win each game but without any pressure, which is a good place to be. There is still a long way to go and other teams around us have games in hand but we are nicely placed. We have had some tough games in our run – Aveley, Thurrock, Bury – and have performed well. We now have two home games (Soham Town Rangers on Saturday, 3pm, and Haringey Borough on Tuesday, 7.45pm) to look forward to.'
Tuttle will miss Saturday's game through suspension but Sam Borrer, Ryan Crisp, Jake Anema, Luke Winter and Lewis Butcher all return to the squad.
Henman would also like to get to the Senior Cup final again but Town's last-eight match against Spixworth – which will be played at Norfolk FA's FDC at Bowthorpe on January 13, 7.45pm – will be another tough test.
All in all the club looks well set for a successful New Year.