THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Diss Town 2
Debenham LC 1
Just a matter of days after producing what their manager described as ‘the complete performance’ to get the better of Framlingham Town, Diss struggled for fluency during Monday’s home derby clash with Debenham.
Nevertheless, Ross Potter’s men still found a way to secure the three points and it is that ability to win ugly which could prove to be crucial if the Tangerines are to end their two-year exile from the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.
A goal in either period — courtesy of Alex Blakely and Charlie Webb — did the damage, but Debenham, who levelled the game up in the 69th minute through Matt Dixon, made their hosts sweat on more than one occasion during an improved second-half display.
The opening 15 minutes at Brewers Green Lane passed by without any incident of note as both goalkeepers were reduced to watching briefs.
When Diss finally made some attacking inroads in the 16th and 28th minute, winger Tom Amis was off target on both occasions, while Webb steered Blakely’s cross straight into the hands of Debenham custodian Steven Fenner.
Up until this point, ventures into the home side’s half had been a rare occurrence for Debenham, but that changed dramatically in the 32nd minute.
With a loose ball falling invitingly to him 30 yards from goal, Hornets left-back Lee Gaught decided to chance his luck.
His strike was pure and had Diss goalkeeper George MacRae grasping at thin air, yet just as the Debenham bench rose to celebrate, Gaught’s effort crashed against the right-hand post and bounced to safety.
And, to rub more salt into the wound of the strugglers, the ball was in the back of their net just two minutes later when Diss converted one of their numerous corners.
Mark Shadrack rose highest to meet Shaun Hunsdon’s centre and with the Debenham defence static, Blakely’s rising effort from close range found the top corner.
The goal appeared to breathe some life into the hosts, who started to play with more cut and thrust in the final third.
But for all of their pressure, they were unable to double their lead before the break as Fenner denied Hunsdon and Webb in quick succession, while the latter also shot over from the edge of the box.
The duel between Fenner and Webb, which would later decide the contest, was becoming a key fixture and the pair renewed acquaintances early in the second half — once again the keeper coming out on top.
Diss skipper Joe Manning will feel he should have done better when firing well over in the 65th minute, while Fenner again came to the rescue to frustrate Hunsdon.
All the while, after a lacklustre opening 45 minutes — Gaught’s attempt aside — Debenham were starting to gain a foothold in proceedings and in particular Paris Tuwizana, whose pace and physical presence was causing problems.
It meant that when Ben Murphy’s men grabbed an equaliser in the 69th minute, it came as no major surprise.
Tuwizana flicked on Zehnn Young’s cross from the right, leading to a goalmouth scramble.
The Diss rearguard had at least two chances to clear their lines, but they took neither of them and were duly punished when a combination of Dixon and home defender Shadrack forced the ball over the line.
It was now a genuine test of Diss’ promotion credentials — failure to win at home against a team in 18th position would have put a serious dampener on their run of four straight wins heading into the encounter.
Over to Webb, who after seeing a host of opportunities go begging for one reason or another, finally found his shooting boots in the 73rd minute.
Hunsdon was the creator, slipping his strike partner through one-on-one with Fenner.
There was a sense of inevitably about the experienced stopper making the save, but this time as the rebound looped up into the air, Webb adjusted his body swiftly and produced an acrobatic effort that left Fenner with no chance.
Fenner was back to his best to deny headers from Jason Armes and substitute Jason Cole in the dying embers, while up the other end a couple of late free-kicks came to nothing as Diss held out for the victory that keeps them third.
Diss: Macrae, Baxter (Cole 87), Wenham, Manning, Appleton (Tipple 65), Shadrack, Blakely, Armes, Webb, Hunsdon, Amis (Page 77)
Subs not used: Fancett, Oplin
Debenham: Fenner, Hopkins, Gaught, Gathercole (Milliard 76), Bugg, Brock, Diaper (Kirby 67), Barker, Young, Dixon, Tuwizana
Express Man of the Match - Joe Manning: Playing in the holding midfield role, the Diss captain made numerous challenges and also used the ball well, switching play to either flank effortlessly.