Starling hits target as Magpies go clear
Newmarket 0, Dereham Town 3
Dereham manager Matt Henman praised an 'efficient' performance as the Magpies went five points clear at the top of the Ridgeons League Premier Division.
Free-kick specialist Gary Starling scored twice from dead ball situations and Sam Borrer was also on target as the visitors completed a straightforward victory over the Jockeys.
Henman said: 'It was really efficient. We weren't at our most fluent but bearing in mind the opposition, the pitch and the fact it was away from home, I thought it was a really professional performance. We didn't take any risks and we created enough chances to win by a bit more.
'Gary gives us great delivery from his free-kicks. The first one was a bit fortunate in that it was meant as a cross for someone to get their head on but everyone missed it and it went in the net, but the second one was a great strike.'
Kyle Downes was named in the Dereham side after a lengthy injury break and the Magpies produced their first chance in the eighth minute. Aaron Burt made a strong run down the right before crossing to the far post, where Lewis Butcher saw his downward header saved by keeper Andrew Youngs.
Dereham went in front in the 12th minute when they won a free-kick wide on the right and Starling's delivery found the net.
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The Dereham defender repeated the feat 11 minutes later from a more central position as his superbly struck effort gave Youngs no chance.
Nicky Howell had a left footed shot saved and Downes headed wide from close range following Burt's centre as the Magpies had the better of the first half.
In the second half, another Starling free-kick and a long range Butcher drive failed to trouble Youngs, before Dereham sealed the game with their third in the 64th minute. Howell made a fine run on the right and after getting to the byline he squared the ball to Borrer who netted from close range.
Newmarket pushed forward in a bid to reduce the deficit but could not break through the Dereham defence with Jay Eastoe-Smith in solid form.
The visitors nearly added a fourth at the death when Howell picked up Sam Pledger's pass before having his chip well saved by Youngs.
Wroxham's draw against Ely allowed Dereham to stretch their lead, but Henman is refusing to get carried away: 'The whole league is quite tight this season, more so than in other years and you can probably afford to drop a few points but still stay in touch,' he said. 'I think it's going to be quite exciting come next spring.'
Dereham should have Scott Roberts and Nathan Howard back for Saturday's game at home to Woodbridge, although Olly Willis and Adam Smith remain sidelined.
Henman is relieved that the injury list is easing and said: 'We're getting to a stage now where there's more competition for places and it's beginning to show on the pitch.
'We've got no midweek games so the schedule is a bit lighter for us now which gives us a chance to be a bit fresher and get a few more people back.'