Diss Town implement new way of playing during Norfolk Senior Cup victory
There are sure to be teething problems along the way, but last Friday night’s dramatic Norfolk Senior Cup win over Bradenham Wanderers provided an insight into how boss Michael King wants his Diss Town side to play going forward.
Speaking in last week’s Express, King revealed he intended to use his team’s return to action in the county cup after lockdown as preparation for next season.
And there was some evidence of that at a deserted Brewers Green Lane, where goalkeeper James Bergin looked to play out with his feet whenever possible and the full-backs were encouraged to get high and wide.
Midfielder Matt Taunton, in particular, dropped deep in a bid to start attacks while the front three of Kieran Hagan, Bryn Mullen and James Bemrose were fluid in their movement.
The fact that the Tangerines required a Billy Shaw goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time to seal their progress with a 2-1 victory against lower-league opposition highlighted that it remains very much a work in progress. But King feels this was the right time to implement the changes.
“We need to be better with the ball than we have been from when the season started in September,” he said.
“Are we going to flick a switch from our old style and turn into Manchester City or Barcelona? No. It will take some time and patience.
“We looked a little naive at times (against Bradenham) and were always going to make mistakes. You also have to remember this was our first game for four months.
“We felt that against Bradenham was the right time to try what we’d been working on in training recently. We knew we were going to have more of the ball than the opposition.
“We’ll keep working on it but we’ve got to be careful with how we do it as well. The boys understand this is not a case of going from one extreme to the other.”
Covid-19 restrictions prevented supporters from attending the second round tie, which with both sides having had limited action and training since December, got off to a predictably rusty start.
Nevertheless, slowly but surely Diss started to carve out openings and on another day could – and perhaps should – have won by more of a convincing margin.
A handful of those opportunities fell to main marksman Bemrose, who was uncharacteristically profligate in front of goal.
In fact – as is sometimes the way for strikers – Bemrose buried his toughest chance of the night to give Diss the lead in the 71st minute with a shot that arrowed into the top corner from just inside the box.
He should have then put the tie to bed three minutes from time when Hagan’s cross-shot found him all alone at the back post, but he somehow fired over with the goal at his mercy.
And it looked like being a crucial moment when in the second minute of time added on Bradenham got themselves level through centre-back Rob Thurley’s close-range shot.
However, four minutes later Diss secured themselves a place in the next round when Shaw was most alert to the loose ball and with Bradley McCormack off his line he calmly lifted the ball inside the far post.
King said: “I never felt comfortable but I didn’t feel uncomfortable at the same time.
“Early on you could see Bradenham were sharper – they’ve played two or three games while we have just been training.
“But after that initial 20 or 25 minutes we started to take control of the game.
“I got the impression they felt a little hard done by and I can sort of see that when you concede so late, but if you look at the chances that we created and the overall dominance, there only looked like being one winner.
“We created enough chances during the match that would normally have been taken.”
* For a preview to Saturday's third-round clash with Caister, see Friday's print edition.