Thurrock 1, Dereham 3

NON LEAGUE: THURROCK’S dreams of a quick return to the Ryman Premier League were dealt a heavy blow after they lost at home to play-off rivals Dereham Town.

Fleet came into the match off the back of two straight defeats and were looking to return to winning ways against the Magpies.

Thurrock started the match well but couldn’t find the breakthrough despite hitting the post and crossbar in the first half. They were made to rue those spurned opportunities when Dereham came out firing in the second half, blowing Mark Stimson’s side away with three well-worked goals. Robert Clark scored a late consolation.

Thurrock had the first opportunity of the game when 31-goal David Knight almost scored and then headed against the post after good work from Ross Wall.

Further efforts from Lewwes Spence and Wall were kept out.

Dereham, who hadn’t tested Andy Walker in the first half, came out a different side in the second half. Craig Bussens robbed Fleet fullback Connor Martin and played the ball across the six-yard box for the onrushing Danny Beaumont to tap in.

Wall, one of Fleet’s best performers, was withdrawn to the home fans frustration before the second goal came, and it was again down to a defensive mistake. A reverse pass freed Olly Willis in the area but he was bundled over by Spence and the referee had no doubt in pointing to the spot. Ryan Hawkins tucked away the penalty.

Kyle Downs tucked away a third Dereham goal with five minutes remaining and Thurrock had time to grab an injury-time consolation when Clark smashed in.

Fleet drop out of the play off places with seven games left, although top-scorer Knight will miss four games through suspension.