Did Dereham lose their 'must win' attitude?
PUBLISHED: 11:33 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:33 08 March 2019
There's a big difference between a comfort zone and a relegation zone - and Dereham Town boss Adam Gusterson wants his side in neither.
The Magpies enjoyed a fine run of form when Gusterson and Olly Willis took over the reins in January, but consecutive defeats have seen some of that good work go to waste and they now find themselves third from bottom of the Bostik North table, albeit seven points clear of Mildenhall and 10 ahead of Romford.
Gusterson is keen to get things back on track when Dereham entertain Grays Athletic – and keep out of the danger zone.
“This is a big game for us,” he said. “We need to get back to showing the edge within our performances which we were doing when we were bottom and knew every game was a must win.
“We’ve maybe lost that subconsciously recently now we are out of the relegation zone.
“There’s certainly no need for us to panic and it is still very much a case of being positive and looking at the teams above us and who we can catch opposed to worrying about Mildenhall and Romford who sit beneath us in the relegation places.
“We know Grays are a very good side, with some excellent individuals, but at home it is a game where I feel we can be positive and take the game to them and look to cause them problems with our attacking threats.
“We need to try and win the game and that will be reflected in our approach.
“We have nine games left and there is sure to be plenty of twists and turns along the way. There is much work for us to do to secure our status in this league but we’re confident we have the quality and character in the squad to ensure this is the case.”
Grays were 5-1 winners against Dereham at their Parkside Stadium in November and are 10th in the table.
Dereham have a clean bill of health, with Ryan Crisp and goalkeeper Elliot Pride returning to the squad.
Eastern Counties League
Norwich United head to Ely City bolstered by new signing Ben Fowkes.
The 20-year-old striker was released by Lowestoft Town this week and Planters boss Cedric Anselin was quick to bring the Blues leading scorer this season into his squad.
With Sam Applegate and Ben Jones returning from suspension the Planters will be looking to complete the double after securing a 3-1 victory just three weeks ago.
There are a couple of derby matches on the bill this weekend, with Gorleston at home to Thetford Town and Kirkley & Pakefield entertaining Wroxham.
Thetford travel to Emerald Park boosted by their Norfolk Senior Cup semi-final win over Mattishall in midweek.
This will be the third time the sides have met this season, with Thetford winning both the other games 3-0 at Mundford Road.
But Gorleston should go into the game in good heart after giving an excellent account of themselves in three successive away games, winning at Brantham and Wroxham and only going down to a 89th-minute winner at leaders Histon on Tuesday evening.
Kirkley and Wroxham are locked on the same number of points, with the Royals sixth in the table, ahead of their visitors on goal difference. Victory for either side could lift them above Stowmarket, if they lose to second-placed Woodbridge.
Great Yarmouth Town head to bottom side Framlingham Town after moving out of the bottom two a week ago with a fine 5-2 win over Walsham-le-Willows – a welcome three points after the Bloaters had taken just two from their previous seven fixtures. Opponents Framlingham are 10 points adrift at the foot of the table, but the Bloaters will have to do without the services of last weekend’s man of the match and player of the month Charlie Beckwith. The young keeper has been on loan from Leiston for the last month but has now been recalled by his club.
Leaders Caister face one of the few teams to get the better of them this season when they travel to Wymondham.
Caister have lost just three Premier Division games this season, and one of those was at home to Wymondham in October, when they went down 3-1. Nearest challengers Sheringham – six points behind with two games in hand and on a run of nine consecutive league wins – are at home to Hellesdon, while third-placed Long Stratton, levels on points with the Shannocks but from two games more, go to Blofield United.
Waveney, in fourth, host St Andrews.