Magpies ready for their biggest test

When Dereham walk out on the Carrow Road pitch for the biggest game in their history tonight it will complete a remarkable turnaround under manager Robert Taylor.

Nick Mashiter

When Dereham walk out on the Carrow Road pitch for the biggest game in their history tonight it will complete a remarkable turnaround under manager Robert Taylor.

Taylor has been at the helm for just over a year and has taken the team from struggling near the bottom of the Ridgeons Premier Division to comfortable mid-table security - and a place in the Norfolk Senior Cup final.

The club are looking to progress even further under Taylor's guidance and a win against Norwich United would mark their dramatic upturn in fortunes.

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“My aim for the season was to beat last year's points tally of 46,” said Taylor. “We have already done that and we are looking for a top-eight finish.

“We have brought some quality players in and the club is progressing in the right direction. We want to keep the momentum going into next season and hope to challenge for the title next year.”

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Taylor knows all about high-pressure matches after an illustrious career at the very highest level, with Manchester City, Wolves and Gillingham.

After retiring, he returned to his native Norfolk and took Watton United to promotion in his first season, before moving to King's Lynn before turning his attentions to Aldiss Park. His CV does include a Senior Cup appearance - back in 1989 when he appeared for Norwich City Reserves, alongside Jeremy Goss and Ian Crook.

Taylor has taken Dereham to a respectable mid-table position in the Premier Division - fully 28 points of Norwich United, but Taylor knows only too well the danger of taking his opponents lightly.

He said: “The game is a one-off but we cannot take the league positions for granted. The cup can bring big surprises and we have to be up for it.

“It's the club's first time in the final and now I hope the whole town will get behind us and be there on the night to give us plenty of support.”

Taylor admits that motivation will not be a problem and insists the competition in his squad can only help.

“The lads can't wait and are all fighting for places in the 14-man squad, it has created a real buzz throughout the club,” he said.

Magpies captain Graham Barrett, who recently celebrated the birth of his second child Molly, feels the team spirit can make a difference in the final.

He said: “We had a difficult couple of seasons before Robert took over the side but the old atmosphere from our first seasons at Aldiss Park has now returned. We have a tremendous team spirit and this has helped us through to the final.”

Club chairman George Hayes is confident that the Magpies will keep a smile on the faces of an estimated 1000-plus fans who will travel to Carrow Road.

"We continued our good run of form last Saturday with a convincing 3-0 win against Diss Town,” he said.

“With only one defeat in the last 20 cup and league games the team are full of confidence and really looking forward to the final.

“It's a great stage for the squad to show off the tremendous progress that has been made over the past 12 months or so on the pitch.

“Whatever the result, and I hope we win, great credit must go to Rob Taylor for developing the squad in the way that he has since his arrival in January 2005.

”Not only are we picking up more points each week but we are also playing some very attractive and exciting football, creating and converting lots of goal scoring opportunities.

”The Norfolk Senior Cup run has been a real bonus and really brought some excitement to the club and the whole town. Let's hope we can win it for the first time in the club's history.”

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