Dereham Town chief Neal Simmons relishing life in the hot-seat

New Dereham Town manager Neal Simmons is pleased with his side's start to the campaign. Picture: Ian Burt

New Dereham Town manager Neal Simmons is pleased with his side's start to the campaign. Picture: Ian Burt

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Neal Simmons is enjoying the challenge of life after Matt Henman in the Dereham Town hot-seat.

Simmons stepped up from assistant to manager when Henman left Aldiss Park at the end of last season.

And while Henman isn’t forgotten by any means, Simmons is enjoying the challenge of making his own mark on the team after nine years as assistant.

Simmons has started his managerial career with two wins on the bounce in the Bostik North Division followed victory over visitors Corby Town in the FA Cup on Saturday

“Yes, you could say it’s been almost the perfect start,” he said. “It is still fresh and new and I am enjoying it.

“I spoke to Matt on Saturday night and that’s good. I worked with him for a long time and moving into the job was a natural progression.

“I did do a lot of soul-searching over whether it was right for me to step up. Not from a football point of view – I have confidence in my football, but from a lifestyle viewpoint.

“I was always ready to do the football side, and fortunately the club agreed that it was time for stability.

“In my position I have to be my own man and do things differently, otherwise people would say ‘it’s just the same, but without Matt’.

“I have lost players, but in a way that has been fortunate for me in that I have had the opportunity to go out and bring in my own players.”

Those include goalkeeper Elliot Pride, defenders Sam Garner and Steve Taylor and Ollie Ebbage and strikers Ashley Jarvis and Jamie Forshaw. “Jamie is a very experienced player; Elliott Pride and Steve Taylor similarly so,” added Simmons.

“Jay Eastoe-Smith is also very experienced and we have individual experience throughout the team which helps with some of the younger players, like Ashley Jarvis and Rhys Logan. It helps them enormously in their development.”

The Magpies follow up their FA Cup exploits against Corby with a resumption of league duties, returning to Aldiss Park this afternoon (3pm) to face AFC Sudbury, who have played just one match so far this season - a 1-1 draw against Canvey Island.

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