STRIKER Robbie Harris returned to haunt his former club as King’s Lynn Town won the Norfolk bragging rights at Aldiss Park on Saturday.
Harris climbed off the bench to head home a dramatic extra-time winner after a last-gasp goal from Jack Defty in normal time had sent a pulsating cup tie into an extra 30 minutes.
A delighted Harris said: "It was nice to get on the pitch and score and the fact that it came against one of my former clubs made it even more sweeter.
"I don’t score too many goals with my head, but Jamie (Thurlbourne) has put the ball exactly where I wanted it."
The Linnets were deserved winners on the day and only some fine goalkeeping from ex-Walks shotstopper Shaun Marshall and some wasteful finishing denied them a smoother passage into the next round.
Joint King’s Lynn Town boss Kevin Boon said: "That was a cracking advert for Norfolk football and it was a shame there had to be a loser.
"Had we taken our chances we could have won the game a lot more comfortably. We’ve gone through but Dereham are a good side with some good players and this game could have graced a quarter-final tie.
"Everyone here was probably thinking, ‘just who is the second best team in Norfolk?’ but for myself and Setch (Gary Setchell) as managers we didn’t look at it like that.
"For me, Norfolk football is the winner. Dereham is a great club with great facilities and so is King’s Lynn and now both clubs have to move on from here.
Fellow joint boss Gary Setchell said: "We’ve only played 12 or 13 games together and Dereham have been together three or four years.
"Our lads rallied round even though they’ve only known each other a couple of months. It was a real team effort.
"That was a big game for me and Kevin and people, I think, will go away from today actually believing in us.
“I know we’ve had a good few results in the league but this was an acid test for not just us two but the players because, make no mistake, people were looking at this game and using it to compare the Ridgeons and the UCL leagues.
“Dereham are hoping to win the Ridgeons but St Neots have beaten them in the FA Cup and we have beaten them as well so I don’t think the league is as strong as it once was.
“We’ve had some hard games in the UCL already and I don’t think people are giving our league the credit it deserves.”
A multiple of second-half stoppages, which resulted in almost 20 minutes of injury time, disrupted a game which Lynn dominated for long periods.
Marshall was at his brilliant best to deny Luke Thurlbourne, Brady Stone and Jack Defty (twice) in a one-sided first half.
The Magpies took the lead against the run of play on the stroke of half-time after midfielder Adam Smith teed up Beaumont, whose angled strike was bundled home by Downes at the second attempt.
Lynn, and Defty in particular, continued to spurn chances after the interval as the minutes ticked away.
But Defty went from villain to hero when he netted a scappy equaliser with the game in the fifth minute of injury time.
Lynn’s late equaliser breathed new life into Dereham, whose Danny Beaumont was denied a certain winning goal by a breathtaking save from Alex Street at the death.
The Linnets regained the upper-hand in extra-time with Dereham, hit by two bad injuries, struggling to find their rhythm.
Harris’ winner came early in the first period of extra-time when Jamie Thurlbourne delivered his best ball of the tie for the striker to power home a header past a hapless Marshall.
|Dereham: Marshall, O. Willis, Cross (Morgan 62), Eastoe-Smith (Thomson 76), Gusterson, Beaumont, Roberts, Smith, Downes (Harley 68), S Willis, Foster. Subs (not used): Reeves, Higgs.
King’s Lynn Town: Street, Bexfield, Alsop, L. Thurlbourne, McNeil, Stone (Buhlemann 45), Kelly (Harris 55), White, Defty, Smith (Spriggs 63), J. Thurlbourne. Subs (not used): Cubberley, Hails.
Referee: P. Burnham (Norfolk). Att: 689.