Dereham wreck dream double hopes
CHRIS LAKEY Dereham Town 1, Wroxham 0: Dereham retained their grip on the Norfolk Senior Cup and ruined Wroxham's hopes of a dream double.
Dereham Town 1, Wroxham 0
Dereham retained their grip on the Norfolk Senior Cup and ruined Wroxham's hopes of a dream double. A first-half goal by top scorer Danny Wright was enough to send the trophy back to Aldiss Park for another year.
In truth it was no classic - the referee's notebook was proof of that - but Magpies' boss Rob Taylor got his tactics spot on. Jordan Blyth was given a solo role up front with Dereham fielding five in midfield. And while Wroxham were justifiably put out that they had the lion's share of possession, the fact of the matter is that when push came to shove the Ridgeons League leaders couldn't find a way through a robust Dereham defence brilliantly led by skipper Adam Gusterson.
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Both sides took a while to settle on the wide expanses of Carrow Road but Wroxham's Gavin Lemmon showed no signs of nerves with a fine cross from the right.
Blyth then livened the crowd with a high challenge on Dereham keeper Nathan Pauling - high but no foul - and then earned himself a talking to from referee Lee Betts two minutes later for an over-zealous challenge as the game began to liven up.
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The goal which sealed the trophy came after just 10 minutes and started with Graham Barrett who slid the ball down to Blyth on the left flank. The striker looked up and saw Wright steaming into the box and sent in a low cross which his team mate turned home with some force.
Blyth was in the thick of things but was unfortunate to see his name in the ref's notebook after an altercation too many.
Lemmon was also lectured for offending Dereham's speedy Olly Willis in a game which was becoming increasingly interrupted by the referee's whistle.
Wroxham defender Gavin Pauling went into the book after bringing down the dangerous Wright and his skipper Justin Fox soon joined him after a late tackle on Barratt. Wroxham's Ben Thompson might have done better on 26 minutes when Pauling was caught out by a poor back pass and could only clear the ball as far as the striker - but was relieved to see the effort go wide of the mark.
Despite the interruptions Wroxham were beginning to settle although it was the dreaded final ball which was letting them down - allowing Dereham to cause problems on the break.
The holders were indebted to the excellent Gusterson and James Wilson in the centre of their defence who were always there to mop up whenever Wroxham approached.
It took Wroxham 43 minutes to get a shot on target but Fox's free kick from 25 yards was straight at the keeper.
Lee Howlett headed a Fox corner high and wide as the clock wound down on a half that Wroxham will want to forget.
Sam Willis gave the Yachtsmen a fright early in the second half when he poked a loose ball wide of Robert Woodcock's right hand post but Wroxham were soon on the attack again.
Fox turned well in the area after picking up Andy Key's lay-off, but Gusterson blocked superbly to deny the Wroxham midfielder.
Thompson cut in from the right on 55 minutes and forced a good save out of Pauling diving low to his left.
Shaun Howes talked himself into trouble on the hour mark although the referee was clearly mistaken when he pulled the Wroxham man up for a foul when it was a case of two Dereham players colliding with each other.
Possession-wise it was still all Wroxham but the break through just wouldn't come. Good work on the edge of the area between Thompson and Gary Gilmore saw the Wroxham sub shoot just a yard over. Fox then saw a left footer curl the wrong way on 73 minutes but as the game moved on Dereham boss Taylor was looking the calmer of the two managers. He would have been even happier 10 minutes from time had Blyth done better after robbing Graham Challen in his own area. The defender dallied, lost possession, but Blyth shot wide of the target.
Wroxham were convinced they should have had a penalty soon after when Gusterson got down low to clear a shot but their pleas were waved away - and with it the game.
With just two minutes left, Gilmour got a touch on Fox's free kick from the right, but Thompson was inches away from connecting at the far post.
Thompson then produced a late effort for Wroxham but with four minutes of time added on, it was all hands to the deck for Dereham - and they managed to hold on until the bitter end.