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Adapt to thrive is Magpies’ chief’s mantra for campaign

Action from Dereham Town's defeat to Canvey Island in the FA Cup. Picture: Robert Groom

Action from Dereham Town's defeat to Canvey Island in the FA Cup. Picture: Robert Groom

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Dereham Town boss Adam Gusterson believes the teams that can adjust to the coronavirus restrictions best will be the ones to thrive this season.

Action from Dereham Town's defeat to Canvey Island in the FA Cup. Picture: Robert GroomAction from Dereham Town's defeat to Canvey Island in the FA Cup. Picture: Robert Groom

The Magpies have been able to start their season with fans able to attend their matches although restrictions placed on the players and staff have certainly meant an adjustment has been required to a new normal.

But rather than bemoan the circumstances, Gusterson feels fortunate that football at their level has been able to resume and the clubs that can take the restrictions in their stride will be the ones that succeed this season.

“The restrictions are here,” said the Dereham chief. “They are going to change slightly depending on what club we go to but there’s going to be restrictions on who can go into the changing room at times, there’s going to be the need to wear masks all the time.

“At Aveley on Saturday we couldn’t go into the changing room for a team talk – little things like that and we have said that we’ve just got to be open minded and take it in our stride because those that do will benefit.

“It’s not brilliant wearing a mask for two-and-a-half hours on a bus but we’ve got to do it. The sooner we can accept that the better.

“We’re just grateful that we are able to play and we’re really fortunate to have fans at our games and we have to deal with what is a horrible situation for everyone.”

Football at non-elite level, classified as step three and below, has been allowed to continue with fans at matches as long as Covid-secure restrictions are in place.

Gusterson believes that sense of community that clubs like Dereham provide are vital in the current circumstances.

“The easiest thing would have been to just stop but to be fair to the government they have realised it is a massive part of people’s lives,” he added. “I think you have to have opportunities to socialise, keep fit, play football, be part of a community. We have to do everything we can to keep that in place.

“We have to respect what’s needed in order for this to carry on. I can only speak for here but what we’ve put together has been brilliant. We know that we can come here and be safe and still enjoy the sport that we all love.”

Dereham head to Tilbury this afternoon looking to bounce back from their FA Cup exit at the hands of Canvey Island on Tuesday evening. The Magpies were left to rue an indifferent first half performance, which saw them go in at half-time 2-0 adrift and down to 10 men following Elliott Pride’s red card.

Gusterson’s men made a game of it in the second half and could have got back into the game had Adam Hipperson’s spot-kick been successful. It wasn’t to be but Gusterson hopes his side can take their second-half performance into this afternoon’s Isthmian North clash.

“We showed a lot of guts in that second half. It’s little things like making sure you get close and you affecting your opponent and we did that in the second half so I think the players should take a lot of heart from that. We’ve got to take the form of the second half into Saturday against Tilbury.

“I’ve got to be honest, I think we’ve got to find our identity again. That’s potentially our shape, how we want to play and it’s potentially personnel as well.

“We’ve got to try and find that formula. Every game is different – Tilbury have got a bit lad up front and they will want to hit him early. We might have to set up against that but we’ve got to embrace that challenge and make them think about us as well.”


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