Player-boss Matt Morton accepts blame as Thetford Town are hit for seven by higher-league Dereham Town
Matt Morton shouldered the blame for Thetford Town’s 7-0 hammering against Dereham Town in the Norfolk Senior Cup, but believes the same approach will keep them on the right path in the league.
Hosting Thetford had gone into Tuesday’s game having just seen a five-game winning streak in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division end in a 3-1 loss at Brantham Athletic on Saturday.
It was a case of them not being able to recover from two goals in two minutes in the first half, with a 61st minute penalty sealing the result ahead of Tanner Call scoring an 89th minute consolation.
But there were still hopes they could replicate their recent fine form, with Morton’s appointment as player-boss having sparked a resurgence which took them from bottom spot to mid-table, in the third round tie – a repeat of last year’s final.
That April night at Carrow Road had seen little between the teams, before higher-league Dereham Town broke Thetford hearts in extra-time in a 2-1 win to lift the county cup.
It was a very different story this time around, with The Brecklanders gift-wrapping goals as if they were giving out Christmas presents early.
The three goals in the first half started with conceding a 15th minute penalty while there were huge question marks about the careless defending of the next two.
Andrew Cusack volleyed powerfully into his own net at the start of the second period and, following another penalty being conceded and tucked away for Adam Hipperson’s hat-trick, teenage goalkeeper Jamie Humphrey lost the ball outside his box for a soft sixth. There was further pain to come with an all-too-easy seventh four minutes from time.
“I think we are culpable for probably all of them and considering there was quite a few of them, that is not a great thing to say,” said Morton, who did dispute both penalties but accepted it ultimately had no bearing on the game.
“We definitely overplayed and it is probably my fault as I want the team to play good football, and to get back to that after Brantham on Saturday.
“You could argue that is naive on my part against a very good Dereham side from the league above, but that is the way we want to play.”
He felt his side did deserve praise for the way they kept going and trying to play the style he had asked of them, and wants them to keep to that in their upcoming league fixtures, with the side not in action again now until they host Newmarket Town a week tomorrow (3pm).
“In previous poor results we have had at the beginning of the season, and even in previous seasons, there is a tendency to look to go long and squeeze up and throw the towel in a bit. But credit to the lads, they kept going and kept trying to play.
“It made the scoreline very unflattering but against teams in and around us in our league I think playing that same style will actually get us points on the board.”
Thetford went into the match with the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division eighth-placed side without Michael Campbell and Nathan Clarke, both nursing knocks, while Dereham, on the back of a three-game winning run, only made a few changes from the weekend’s victory.
Thetford were immediately under the cosh and had their heads in their hands when Morton’s challenge from behind on Owen Murphy was deemed a penalty. Winger Adam Hipperson found the bottom corner from the resultant kick to give Dereham the lead with just 15 minutes gone.
After Elliot Pride made a routine save from Max Melanson’s long-range effort, Dereham carried on ramping up the pressure at the other end and eventually doubled their advantage 10 minutes before the break when Rhys Logan’s angled effort went in at the far post via a deflection.
On the stroke of half-time the tie was effectively taken away from the hosts when Dereham waltzed through the backline and Hipperson deftly chipped Humphrey from a square pass for 3-0 at the break.
Cusack fired an unstoppable volley past his own keeper from a left-wing cross less than three minutes after the restart for number four.
A penalty conceded by Luke Bailey’s rash sliding challenge saw Hipperson claim his hat-trick in the 68th minute and Toby Hilliard punished Humphrey for losing the ball outside his penalty area.
Number seven arrived four minutes from time when Jamie Forshaw danced through the defence before providing a smart finish.
Thetford: Humphrey, Bond (Hunt 56’), Cusack, Smith (c), L Bailey, Morton, Sandell (Conroy 60’), R Bailey, Call, Melanson, Hemmings (Hutt 76’).
More by this authorRussell Claydon