Dulwich Hamlet 4-2 Enfield Town - We need to change the history and win a game in the play-off final, says Dulwich Hamlet boss Gavin Rose
Dulwich Hamlet 4 – 2 Enfield Town
|Location||Champion Hill Stadium, Dog Kennel Hill, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, London SE22 8BD|
DULWICH HAMLET 4-2 ENFIELD TOWN
Ryman Premier League Play-Off Semi-Final
Thursday 27th April 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium
DULWICH HAMLET boss Gavin Rose has challenged his players to create history for the club by winning promotion into Vanarama National League South for the first time on Monday afternoon.
The Hamlet booked their place in the Ryman Premier League Play-Off Final after winning an entertaining clash against an Enfield Town side that arrived on an eight-match unbeaten run to finish in fourth-place with 76 points on the board after 46-games, four points and a place behind Dulwich Hamlet.
A crowd of 2,517 crammed into Champion Hill Stadium and a cauldron of noise and passion saw them through to a third play-off showdown against league runners-up Bognor Regis Town.
Bognor Regis Town, who finished their campaign on 92 points, missing out on automatic promotion to champions Havant & Waterlooville by just two points, needed a last minute Ollie Pearce clincher to break Wingate & Finchley’s hearts with a 2-1 win down on the south coast tonight.
Dulwich Hamlet got off to dream start by taking the lead through striker Ibra Sekajja with only 46 seconds on the clock and the 24-year-old Ugandan scored his hat-trick with a sublime chip that had Champion Hill rocking with only 32 minutes on the clock, taking his goalscoring tally for the season to 16.
Enfield Town pulled a goal back when former Dulwich Hamlet midfielder Billy Crook’s shot went in via Ashley Carew at the near post for an own-goal and this lifted the spirits from Barry Quinton’s side going into the break.
Gavin Tomlin killed the game off with his 19th goal of the season but Harry Ottaway hooked in a late second to score against his old club with his 17th goal of the season.
“Delighted. We played against a very, very god team, a very competitive team and on another night they could’ve easily got the result,” said Rose during the post-match press conference.
“Every time we play against these guys, it’s always a thrilling game and tonight wasn’t any different.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere one that we will remember for years’ to come. I think the players on both teams done the atmosphere justice as well with their effort and their ability on the pitch.
“I felt we needed to be a little bit more pragmatic in our approach and try to upset them at the back a little bit more, probably take less risks and I thought we did that, probably not our usual fluent style but I felt we had to sacrifice that to be effective today. The boys sort of carried it out really well today.”
Dulwich Hamlet got off to a dream start when Tomlin’s fine through ball split open Ricky Gabriel and Mark Kirby to put Sekajja through on goal and he rolled his right-footed shot underneath the legs of advancing keeper Nathan McDonald into the back of the net from 15-yards.
“Fantastic! Gavin done really well with a great through ball and Ibra’s finish was fantastic,” said Rose.
“Obviously you want a good start, you always want a good start. It was a little bit of a relief because the nerves came away from the boys a little bit as well.”
Enfield Town’s first opening came in the sixth minute when Crook stroked his right-footed free-kick from 28-yards around the wall, which lacked power and this was easily saved by Preston Edwards beside his near post.
Holding midfielder Percy Kiangebeni rolled the ball out to Enfield’s right-back Jon Muleba, who whipped in a low cross towards the foot of the near post, which was gathered by Edwards as he moved across his goal-line.
Despite Dulwich Hamlet scoring early, the game then returned to a cagey affair with the game littered by fouls.
Edwards had his heart in his mouth with 29 minutes and 6 seconds on the clock.
Ottaway’s flicked pass released left-winger Karl Oliyide through on goal and after cutting inside Matt Drage, his right-footed scuffed shot from the edge of the box deflected off right-back Marc Weatherstone. Edwards dived to his right and spilt the ball and it bounced behind him but the former Ebbsfleet United stopper kept composed to pounce on the ball as it was rolling towards his goal-line.
Edwards was thankful that he didn’t suffer embarrassment.
He said: “There was one deflection and it hit a bump and it skimmed over me and fortunately I kept it. It’s only a split second so literally I went oops and luckily I gathered it and then I was disappointed with the goal, I think it was three deflections through legs.”
The game swiftly got away from Enfield Town as Dulwich Hamlet doubled their lead with 30 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock.
Tomlin floated in a deep corner from the left towards the far post which was chipped back into the middle by Drage and Sekajja rose to glance his back-header across goal and in off the top of the far post from eight-yards.
“Matt Drage’s ball, I thought it was a quality ball, a nice little chip and Ibra’s done really well. He’s a small boy but he rises really well and scored a good goal for us,” added Rose.
Clinical Dulwich Hamlet grabbed a third goal only 78 seconds later with a sublime finish from hat-trick hero Sekajja.
Enfield Town gave the ball away straight from kick-off which put Sekajja through on goal and as the ghostly figure of visiting keeper Nathan McDonald advanced off his line, the Dulwich striker used his right boot to chip the ball over his outstretched arm from 20-yards. The fans in the packed stand were on their feet before the ball dropped down into the back of an empty net.
“Excellent finish,” hailed Rose.
“It was one of them when you think to yourself maybe don’t go for it and go for a less flamboyant effort but we were really happy with the result at the end there with his goal.
“I mean we know he’s capable of that and he’s starting to come into a rich vein of goalscoring form as we go into towards the end of the season and to be fair it’s probably good timing for us that he’s started to score like this because his performances have always been very good. The goals are now coming as well.”
The home fans were now in sheer ecstasy, but to Enfield Town’s credit they could have so easily have folded but they kept going.
Right-winger Mickey Parcell picked up the ball inside the Hamlet half and drove forward before unleashing a right-footed drive from 30-yards, which forced Edwards to dive low to his right to hold.
Then, Parcell produced another run before rolling the ball out to Muleba on the overlap and his angled drive from a tight angle was gobbled up by Edwards at the foot of his near post.
And just like Dulwich Hamlet, Enfield Town also scored following their first corner of the night. The goal was timed at 37:43.
Crook swung in the corner from the left, Dulwich Hamlet cleared the ball back to him and the midfielder’s low weak shot would have been gathered by Edwards at his near post, but Carew’s right leg diverted the ball into the bottom near corner for an own-goal.
“I think on another day, Ashley deals with that. He was surprised the shot didn’t have as much pace on it as he would’ve probably expected,” said Rose.
“Yes, a poor goal for us to lose at that stage. At 3-0 they haven’t got much to talk about at half-time but we gave them a little bit of hope.”
The goal lifted Enfield Town’s spirits and performance going into half-time and Harrold Joseph miss-kicked the ball on the edge of the six-yard box after the ball dropped at him following another Crook free-kick into the Dulwich Hamlet box.
“Mentally for players it’s difficult when you’re 3-0 up, with your emotion and the crowd and you start getting a little bit complacent and carried away, it’s a human nature,” explained Rose.
“It’s very hard to come out of it. What we wanted was to get in at half-time without losing a goal so we could’ve slow them down and got some perspective into the evening but unfortunately when they scored the goal it meant that they had something to fight for but we raised it a little bit in the second half and we had enough to sort of see out the result.”
The half-time whistle blew and the home fans were on their feet knowing the job was still not complete.
“I thought we played ok,” admitted Rose. I didn’t think we were great in the first half and I said we needed to relax a little bit more and pass the ball a bit better and show a bit more, even though we were two goals to the good.”
Dulwich Hamlet scored their first after 46 seconds, but Enfield Town produced a woeful finish 46 seconds into the second half.
Scott Shulton swept a deep free-kick towards the far post, the ball was knocked down by Crook and the ball fell to the wrong man as central defender Joseph lashed his shot high over Edwards’ crossbar from 20-yards.
Edwards got a strong right hand to Enfield Town’s much better attempt on goal in the 54th minute.
Muleba fed the ball into Shulton, who drove forward before drilling a low right-footed shot from 25-yards, which he aimed towards the bottom corner, but Edwards dived low to his right to parry the ball away towards safety.
Rose said: “There’s no way we’re going to play a play-off semi-final against a team like this and he’s not going to be called into work, so we’re just happy he actually performed well when he was.”
Nyren Clunis’ deep cross was met on a hooked volley at the far post by Nathan Green, which screamed high over several players inside the box and Ibrahim Kargbo smacked his volley over the crossbar from outside the box.
Dulwich Hamlet were to be denied on the hour by visiting keeper McDonald, who was wearing an all-white strip.
Joseph gave the ball away with a miss-placed pass to Tomlin, who played a low pass in behind the central defender to put Sekajja through on goal but his shot was hit low and straight at McDonald’s legs as he rushed forward to narrow the angle.
“Good save but at the end of the day he shot straight at him. Normally they go underneath or through the keeper’s legs and this time the keeper stood up a little bit longer and you couldn’t have asked much more really,” added Rose.
Drage lashed his volley screaming high and wide of the far post after hitting the ball first time as it came to him following Tomlin’s right-wing corner.
Dulwich Hamlet produced a slick move on the break to kill the game off with their fourth goal, timed at 19 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.
Kargbo played the ball into Tomlin outside the box, who rolled the ball on the outside to Sekajja, who centred low for Tomlin to sweep his right-footed shot to the keeper’s left from 12-yards.
The home fans were now singing “we are going up!” On this performance, they should be!
“A good passing move, I thought they committed really well all night really and it’s quite hard to defend against us when two players are looking like that and the finish was low and in the corner.”
When asked whether he felt the game was won at that point, Rose replied: “Probably then to be honest with you. I never thought Enfield would stop working. I didn’t think they would stop being a threat but I thought three goals with maybe 20 minutes left would’ve been a tall order for them to come back in. We thought one more goal would probably have been decisive.”
Green’s left-wing corner, Dulwich Hamlet’s fifth, was cleared out to Carew, who hit his screaming volley across goal and past the far post from 25-yards.
Enfield’s vocal fans saw their side going until the bitter end and Edwards produced a brilliant save with 38 minute and 48 seconds on the clock.
Parcell played the ball into Oliyide, who stretched to stab a rolling ball back to substitute Dernell Wynter, who unleashed a left-footed drive from 15-yards, which forced Edwards to dive to his right to get a strong hand to the shot.
Rose said: “I thought he performed really well today, even the one at the end, it was a fantastic reaction save. It probably didn’t belong at this level that saved. Hr contributed as well.”
But with the cheers still ringing in his ears, Preston was beaten for a second time just 41 seconds later.
Parcell whipped in a cross from the right towards the far post where Ottaway hooked in his shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards.
Rose said: “It’s always the way, the two of them since they’ve left us always score against us Billy and Harry. They are fantastic boys and very good players. Credit to them, they never stopped truing, never stopped battling, showed great character.”
Bognor Regis Town against Dulwich Hamlet will be a perfect send-off to Ryman’s 20-year sponsorship of the Isthmian League, on Monday afternoon (15:00) at Nyewood Lane.
“This is our fifth play-off at Dulwich and three of them in the play-offs have been against Bognor, so it’s now the third against Bognor at some stage. We’ve locked horns so many times and we get on really well with their management team. We respect them,” said Rose, who revealed his side will have “a light training session” on Saturday.
“We know they play some fantastic football. This year they’ve been a little bit unfortunate not to go up actually.
“We’re starting to hit form at the right time so I feel that the game will be a tough game but it will be an enjoyable one as well and hopefully we’ll turn up on the day and get over the line.”
Interview continues below.
DULWICH HAMLET’S PLAY-OFF RECORD:
Ryman League Division One South:
Dulwich Hamlet 2-2 Wealdstone (Wealdstone win 5-4 on penalties)
Ryman League Division One South:
Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 Folkestone Invicta
Bognor Regis Town 1-0 Dulwich Hamlet
Ryman Premier League:
Margate 2-0 Dulwich Hamlet
Ryman Premier League
Bognor Regis Town 0-1 Dulwich Hamlet
East Thurrock United 3-1 Dulwich Hamlet
Ryman Premier League:
Dulwich Hamlet 4-2 Enfield Town
Bognor Regis Town v Dulwich Hamlet
When asked about the club’s record in the play-offs, Rose is keen to bury those statistics above and create history and win promotion into the Vanarama National League South for the first time.
He said: “If you think about it that way, it’s always going to be the same and the boys are going to be the same.
“We’ve been relatively successful as a club getting to that stage and now we need to change the history and win a game in the play-off final.
“We want to create history. We want to look at it that way rather than thinking about what’s happened in the past.
“I think the character of the players is definitely a factor. I think over the years’ we’ve been really good and we probably should’ve won something and we’ve slipped away. This group has come from behind which shows fantastic character and strength and this group has a bit more fire and strength and I’m hoping that we can really draw on everything out of our reserve for Monday.”
Dulwich Hamlet are now ready to take the giant step forward and end their 110-year membership of the Isthmian Football League.
“It would mean everything. We’ve been in this league (Premier) now, this is our fourth season. We missed out on the play-offs in our first year by a point and then we’ve been in the play-offs in the other two seasons and again now so obviously we want to get over the line and pit our wits against National League South teams.
“The supporters’ have seen a team battle for them throughout the season and get to this stage and hopefully we can put some smiles on their faces and get over the line.”
Dulwich Hamlet keeper Edwards, 27, is delighted to get through to Saturday’s winner-takes-all clash at Bognor Regis Town.
“Delighted to get through to the Final,” he said.
“We’ve got Bognor in the final so another tough trip for us. We’ve done part one. We just need to do part two in the next game.
“The atmosphere is like that every home game to be fair. They’re such a great set of fans, really noisy and Enfield added to that as well. A great atmosphere, hopefully there’s going to be a better one in the final.”
When asked what Rose said before the game started, Edwards revealed: “We’ve got to start fast first 20 minutes. We’ve got to turn the ball and start really fast and we did that within 46 seconds and it’s a great start for us and hopefully we can do the same on Monday.”
Reflecting on his brilliant late save, Edwards added: “I was happy with the save in the second half and they scored straight after it. I just got a strong palm to it. It was unfortunate that they scored literally a minute afterwards.
“I didn’t play with Harry Ottaway, I’ve never played with him, so I know he’s had an affiliation here and I’m sure Billy Crook scored as well. You’ve given it as an own-goal? Oh, ok.”
On Sekajja’s hat-trick, Edwards was full of praise for the former Crystal Palace and Bromley striker.
“He’s been absolutely unbelievable for the last two months. If there was a player of the year for the last two months it would be him by a country mile. He’s been absolutely superb especially his third goal, the chip over the keeper. It was an absolutely unbelievable finish and he gets all the credit he deserves and hopefully he can take his form into Monday.”
Dulwich Hamlet: Preston Edwards, Marc Weatherstone, Nathan Green, Ibrahim Kargbo (Panutche Camara 78), Matt Drage, Michael Chambers, Nyren Clunis, Kenny Beaney, Ibra Sekajja (Dumebi Dumaka 77), Ashley Carew, Gavin Tomlin (Sanchez Ming 90).
Subs: Afolabi Oladipo Akinyemi, Jacob Erskine
Goals: Ibra Sekajja 1, 31, 32, Gavin Tomlin 65
Booked: Marc Weatherstone 43, Ibrahim Kargbo 55
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Jon Muleba, Ricky Gabriel, Percy Kiangebeni (Tyler Campbell 51), Mark Kirby, Harold Joseph (Dernell Wynter 66), Mickey Parcell, Scott Shulton (Samir Bihmoutine 81), Harry Ottaway, Billy Crook, Karl Oliyide.
Subs: Nigel Neita, Nathan Livings
Goals: Ashley Carew 38 (own goal), Harry Ottaway 85
Booked: Harold Joseph 22, Scott Shulton 55
Referee: Mr Jason Richardson (Ruislip, Middlesex)
Assistants: Mr Aivaras Lukauskis (Woolwich, London SE18) & Mr Luis Nunes (Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey)
Fourth Official: Mr Leigh Crowhurst (Uckfield, East Sussex)
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