NORFOLK SENIOR CUP
Dereham Town 3
Diss Town 1
Danny Self is confident there will be no lasting damage from Diss Town’s Norfolk Senior Cup semi-final elimination at higher-league Dereham Town.
The Tangerines missed out on a place in the showpiece final at Norwich City’s Carrow Road at the final hurdle as the Ryman League promotion-chasers ultimately showed their pedigree with two goals from Liam Wales and a third from Craig Bussens after Matt Dixon had levelled.
But despite conceding his disappointment at failing to get the chance to challenge for the cup, centre-half Self is confident his side will bounce back immediately with Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division survival remaining the major priority for Diss.
“We can walk away from this competition with our heads held high and say we couldn’t have done any more in terms of effort,” said Self, whose side remain 11 points adrift of safety.
“Every round in this competition, we’ve had to change the line-up but the boys have given everything and we can’t ask for much more.
“Dereham are a quality side and we’ve pushed them but it just wasn’t enough.
“This competition was always seen a bonus for us, they became free games really and we’ve done really well which is a big thing for us.
“The league has always been the main focus and we have to get to that now.
“We started to turn a corner, albeit a long corner, and this was always a bit of a bonus.
“Getting wins under our belts in the earlier rounds helped us going back into the league games and I’m sure our efforts will stand us in good stead going back into the league now.
“We have to be realistic and know fourth bottom is our best hope but I’m confident we can get back to winning with the fixture list we have.
“We have got to play teams around us and if we can take points off them then we have as much chance as anyone else down the bottom.
“I don’t think going out of the competition will be a shock to any of the lads. We are disappointed but it wasn’t our night and I’m sure we will get over it quickly.”
The Tangerines’ already-daunting task was made even harder after only five minutes as Dereham broke the deadlock.
A probing run from Sam Borrer saw the forward beat two markers in the centre of the field before slipping the ball through to Wales on the right-side of the area, who made no mistake, drilling the ball under the body of the on-rushing Matt Powley.
The visitors refused to let their heads drop and responded in the perfect fashion to level just six minutes later.
An in-swinging corner from the right-hand side found the unmarked Dixon, who made the lacklustre Magpies’ defence pay by guiding his header over the line, despite the best efforts of custodian Andrew Wilton to claw the ball away.
The equaliser appeared to settle Diss’ nerves as they proceeded to enjoy a prolonged period of pressure.
During that time they created the next meaningful chance after 30 minutes as Sam Newton beat his marker on the left-hand side before delivering a deep cross to back post that Chris Holmes could only volley wide of the mark.
However, they were made to pay for their lack of instinct in front of goal just two minutes later as the home side doubled their advantage.
Harry Baker was afforded too much time and space in the centre of the field and he was quick to take advantage as he slipped an acute pass into the feet of the lively Wales on the left-hand side of the area.
And despite Powley racing out to seemingly block off his angles to goal, the striker neatly clipped the ball past the custodian and into the net.
With momentum behind them the hosts dominated the late stages of the first half and should have increased their advantage in the 42nd minute.
Captain Aaron Kays’ corner was met by the head of Ryan Hawkins but his effort was somehow kept out from point blank range by a combination of Powley and defender Wines.
The early stages of the second half belonged to the visitors with Dixon calling Wilton into action with a smart low save after 58 minutes.
However, just as they did in the first half, Dereham showed their ruthless instinct in-front of goal 10 minutes later as Kay’s dangerous delivery from the left was glanced into the far right corner by Bussens.
Diss continued to try and find a route back into the game as Self saw a powerful close range header brilliantly tipped over by Wilton, while at the other end Wales was denied a hat-trick by a brave last ditch tackle by substitute Jamie Sheehan.
Chances continued to come and go in the final 10 minutes as Lewis Sturman headed narrowly wide for the home side while Ben Lewis came agonisingly close to reducing the deficit with a brilliant curling effort flying wide.
However, there was to be no late drama as Dereham sealed their final berth.