Wait is over for non-league duo Dereham Town and Fakenham Town

Connor Walker finds the net during Fakenham Town Reserves' 6-1 friendly win over Mattishall at Clipb

Connor Walker finds the net during Fakenham Town Reserves' 6-1 friendly win over Mattishall at Clipbush Park. Picture: TONY MILES - Credit: Archant

The friendly fare is done – now it's time to get serious, writes Gavin Caney.

After a summer of warm-up matches, the area's highest-ranked non-league sides will begin their competitive programmes on Saturday.

Ryman League North Dereham Town begin their third season at Step Four of the semi-professional pyramid by travelling to Haringey Borough on Saturday. While the Magpies' hosts are new boys to the Isthmian set-up their record in gaining promotion was hugely impressive.

Borough powered to Essex Senior League glory by winning an impressive 34 of their 38 matches on their way to a total of 103 points. They broke a host of league records on the way including; Highest number of points (103), highest number of goals (129), most wins in a season (34) and highest goal difference (99, jointly shared with this season's runners-up Bowers & Pitsea).

Matt Henman's men will have to keep an eye on hot-shot Darrell Cox. He smashed in eight goals in one game to equal a league record.

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Following their weekend bow, the Magpies – who lost four matches across Friday and Saturday when sending a mixture of first, reserve and youth-team based squads to Mattishall (4-1), Bradenham Wanderers (2-0), Kirkley & Pakefield (11-1) and Norwich United (3-0) – will host AFC Sudbury in their first home league match on Tuesday evening.

At the level below Dereham, Fakenham Town will begin their second season back in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division this weekend. The Ghosts, now managed by Neil Jarvis, visit Stanway Rovers on Saturday for their season opener before playing their second match at Newmarket on Tuesday.

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