Dulwich Hamlet 0 v 1 Grays Ath
THIS win and performance by the young Blues was almost a carbon copy of their victory over Bognor earlier in the year where they had a game plan and stuck to it to the letter.From keeper Amadou Tangara through to lone striker Kieron Bishop every player combined an impressive work rate with total adherence to the instructions from management and thoroughly deserved the win against a Dulwich side who huffed and puffed but could not break down a resolute Blues team. Yes there were some nerve jangling moments and a controversial penalty but by and large Blues dealt with everything thrown at them and Tangara produced probably his finest performance making a number of crucial saves .
It was clear from kick off Blues ploy was to allow Dulwich possession in their own half and then squeeze space once the ball was in the Blues half, the tactic worked forcing the home side to play across the park and when that didn’t produce results they resorted to knock aimless long balls forward which the Blues defenders dealt with comfortably..
It was Blues who forced the first corner in the opening minutes and it was Harry Watkins who was first to test ex Blue Edwards in the Dulwich goal with a cross cum shot that forced the keeper to turn the ball over. Dulwich carved out their first opportunity when another ex Blue Dumaka blazed wildly over when well placed.
Dulwich were certainly enjoying a good deal of possession as the half progressed but were not creating any real openings but Blues did create a chance when Matt Baxter was played in down the right flank,he delivered a low cross to the near post that found Bishop who prodded the ball just wide of the upright.
Akinyemi managed to break clear of his marker testing Tangara who saved his effort at the second attempt ,the same player had another chance but again Tangara was equal to it blocking with his legs.A corner for the home side produced another opportunity but the ball again was blazed high and wide.
Despite the territorial advantage the hosts were enjoying the Blues back four kept their shape,Chidi Williams-Agunabor and Nathan Campbell looked assured and in control restricting Dulwich to long range efforts much to the frustration of Dumaka and the delight of the Blues travelling fans.
Bishop had a great opportunity to put Blues in front when Watkins saw his goal bound effort turned on to the post by Edwards rebounding to the Blues marksman who should have done better when he sent his shot wide of a gaping goal.Baxter then had a chance when he was played in but the ball just eluded him and was cleared.
With just five minutes to go before the break Dulwich were awarded a dubious penalty after an innocuous challenge,neither the Dulwich players or fans appealed and it seemed the only person in the ground who deemed it a foul was the referee.Justice was done however when Tangara saved Carew’s kick and Dumaka blasted the rebound over once again.
Dulwich made a bright start to the half winning a corner in the opening minutes,Akinyemi again then had an opportunity breaking clear and again blasted over,Camara was next to try his luck when he curled an effort just over.
Good work by Ryan Mahal led to Bishop winning a corner,Williams-Agunabor nodding over from the subsequent kick.The hosts won a corner at the other end the ball was cleared out to Tomlin but his fierce effort was blocked.
A quick break then provided an opportunity for lone striker Bishop who tested Edwards with a dipping volley, the ball was then played forward quickly and saw Camara with another chance which was blocked on the line and cleared away to safety.
Crosses were raining in on the Blues goal but Tangara was equal to them with a safe pair of hands.Tomlin then headed over the top and Tangara denied Camara again.The pressure was building on the Blues goal but at the same time the work rate and commitment was still there frustrating the home side.
Another quick break presented an opportunity for Lartey Sarpong but Dulwich managed to snuff out the young Blues effort.
Dulwich came close again when a wicked cross from Kangbol flashed across the Blues goal it only needed a touch but eluded both sets of players. Tangara continued to deny the homesters being equal to everything thrown at him claiming crosses and taking the pressure of his back four.
The tiring Baxter and Watkins who had put in wonderful hard working performances made way for Kwabeni Osei back after injury and Joel Nouble who played down the middle allowing Bishop to exploit his pace wide on the right .
Dulwich were still searching for a winner and came very close but only a marvellous one handed block byTangara at the feet of Tomlin prevented them from going in front.
Blues management and fans were looking anxiously at their watches as the clock neared the 90th minute mark. At this stage a well earned draw looked the likely outcome but Nouble and Bishop had other ideas.Nouble picked the ball up just inside the Blues half and cleverly jinked past two challenges threading the ball wide to the unmarked Bishop,racing forward he drew Edwards and then planted the ball firmly past him into the bottom corner. Cue ecstatic cheers and celebrations from the Blues and silence from the large home crowd.Six nerve racking minutes of injury time ensued but despite a last minute flurry from Dulwich Blues goal remained intact.
So once again Blues proved it’s a funny old game and won against more fancied opposition, and a win that was well deserved where every member of the squad adhered to the game plan and got there just reward.
Next Saturday brings the curtain down on a long and sometimes traumatic season against a Folkestone side who need a win to have any chance of remaining in the Premier Division so we can expect an exciting finale.The match will also be the last competitive game at Mill Field which itself has seen some classic matches over the last 65 years.