Dulwich Hamlet 3-1 Harlow Town - I don't think it was plane sailing. I just think when the opportunities came in the second half we took them, admits Dulwich Hamlet boss Gavin Rose

Tuesday 18th October 2016
Dulwich Hamlet 3 – 1 Harlow Town
Location Champion Hill Stadium, Dog Kennel Hill, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, London SE22 8BD
Kickoff 18/10/2016 19:45

Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 18th October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium

DULWICH HAMLET manager Gavin Rose admits his side are playing catch-up on the five teams above them in the Ryman Premier League.

The Hamlet leapfrogged over AFC Sudbury into sixth-place with 18 points from 15 games following this comfortable 3-1 win over Harlow Town, who have yet to win away from home in the league after winning promotion from the Ryman League Division One North after beating Cray Wanderers and AFC Hornchurch in the play-offs.

A crowd of 750 watched an uninspiring first half, with the only highlight was former Crystal Palace striker Ibra Sekajja, 23, scoring his third goal in three games for Dulwich Hamlet and his goal celebration was pretty special too.

The game livened up inside the final 20 minutes.  Ashley Carew’s fourth goal of the season came from a calmly taken penalty, before winger Nyren Clunis’ seventh strike of the season gave the home side a rather flattering three goal lead.

Harlow Town striker Alex Read notched his ninth goal of the season by scoring a last-gasp consolation goal from the penalty spot as the Essex side slip down a place into fourteenth on 17 points from their 15 league outings.

“I thought the first half we played ok, passed the ball well, probably in the first 20-25 minutes I thought we had a good opportunity to score and was a bit rash with our finishing,” said Rose during the post-match press conference down the players tunnel sheltering from a chilly south London night.

“We got our lead and we panicked a little bit going into the end of half-time and then they came out second half, I thought they did quite well in terms of the tactics they employed in terms of getting the ball forward quickly, getting the second ball.

“It took us about 20 minutes to get anything out of that half so I didn’t think it was plane sailing. I just thought when the opportunities came in the second half, we took them and it just meant that it gave us a little bit of breathing space.

“We haven’t had a good home record so far (losing four, winning two and drawing one before tonight in the league) so it was good to get the points today at home and hopefully we can get a few more this season.”

Dulwich Hamlet created the first opening, with only 182 seconds on the clock.

Set-piece specialist Gavin Tomlin drove in a corner from the right and the ball struck striker Dumebi Dumaka and sailed past the left-hand post.

But the home side missed a glorious chance to take the lead.

Left-winger Sekajja’s fine diagonal pass split open the Harlow Town defence to put Clunis in behind Layne Eadie but he lacked composure inside the box and powered his shot harmlessly wide.

Rose said: “A little snap shot from Nyren.  He’s got to hit the target, he probably should’ve gone across the keeper there but a bad miss.”

Harlow’s best effort of the first half arrived in the 11th minute. 

Good wing play down the right from Bamba Ngamb set up a half-chance for Read, but the angle was too tight for him and all he could do was drill his shot into Preston Edwards’ hands.

Dulwich Hamlet dominated the early proceedings but Harlow’s defence was well marshalled by Ibrahima Sonko, 35, who played Premier League football for Reading before Stoke City paid £2m for him in 2008.

The game livened up when Clunis and Tomlin were busy down the right and right-back Sanchez Ming’s looping cross was punched away by Ed Thompson whilst under pressure.

But the only first half highlight was when Dulwich Hamlet broke the stalemate, with the goal timed at 34 minutes and 13 seconds.

Holding midfielder Kenny Beaney rode a strong challenge but still managed to play a sublime defence splitting pass to put Clunis in behind Eadie and Lawrence Justin-Yiga.

Clunis cut the ball back across to an unmarked Sekajja, who turned to rifle his right-footed shot into the roof of the net from 12-yards to give Dulwich Hamlet a deserved lead from penalty spot range.

Rose said: “Very good finish! He scored a very similar goal at the weekend (in a 2-2 draw at Leatherhead), coming in at the back post.  He’ll always do that. He’s naturally a forward player. He’s good enough to get us 30 goals this season Ibra.

“He’s still looking for match fitness. He hasn’t had a pre-season this year, so he’ll get better as he goes on.”

Harlow Town failed to trouble Edwards. Jared Small steered a rising header back where it came from following a throw on the stroke of half-time as Dulwich Hamlet’s back four slammed the door shot, pleasing Rose.

“I thought Michael Chambers, in particular, was very good and Matt Drage in the second half was strong,” he said.

“We’ve known Michael since he was 15 and we know that he’s capable of these
performances and more and he’s got a lot more to give.   He’ll work hard and we’ll work hard to make sure we’ll get those performances.  I thought he was good on Saturday and I thought he was good again tonight, so slowly but surely he’s getting to where he knows he should be and where we know he should be.

“Our back four by and large done well. At the end we could’ve defended better as a group.

The crowd hoped for a more entertaining second half.

“I thought we defended fairly well as a team first half.  We were probably more deserved for a two-goal lead in the first half but we could only go in with one,” said Rose.

“We was aware that Harlow would come out and be physical and we knew that they’d get the ball forward quicker. We told them the dangers of that.  I thought we weathered their storm but it was a pretty long storm but I thought we weathered their storm and we, in time, started to catch them on the break and we were a threat.”

Harlow Town created the first chance inside the opening four minutes.  Eadie swung in a corner from the left, the ball was cleared out to Syrus Gordon, the right-back turned midfielder, hitting his first time shot harmlessly wide from 25-yards.

Harlow Town then built up down the right through substitute Joe Benjamin and Ngamb, but Small’s driven shot was charged down by Dulwich Hamlet left-back Nathan Green from inside the box.

Harlow Town created another opening when Ngamb played in a low centre from the right and Read teed up Gordon, whose right-footed drive sailed over from 30-yards.

Harlow Town substitute Lewis Perkins swung in a corner from the right, the ball was headed towards goal by Justin-Yiga, skimmed off Beaney’s head and was grabbed by Edwards.

Harlow Town goalkeeper Thompson kept his side in the game by making a vital save on the hour-mark.

Good wing play down the right from Clunis saw him cut the ball back to Sekjajja, whose shot from eight-yards was beaten away by the goalkeeper.

Rose said: “I thought Nyren should’ve picked out a forward from the cross to be honest but his approach play was fantastic but we thought he should’ve maybe picked a body out and it came back out and Ibra’s forced the keeper to make a good save.”

Harlow Town squandered an excellent chance to grab an equaliser shortly afterwards.

Perkins swung in a quality free-kick from the left towards the near post for Sonko to guide his header into the bottom left-hand corner, only for the ball to sail just wide.

“I’d be honest to say we haven’t had a great bit of luck this year but that’s been going in, that header,” said Rose.

“I thought it was a decent header as well to be fair but it takes the momentum out of you if they score that but luckily we had a bit of luck today, as well as we played at times, you still need luck to do well.

“I thought they probably should’ve scored from that. It was a good header, free header in our box so that’s something that we want to work on but by and large it was probably their best opportunity.”

The introduction of Roman Michael-Percill down the left added a new threat to Dulwich Hamlet’s attack and he played a leading role in their second goal in the 73rd minute.

He was sent to the ground by a foul from behind by Small and referee Jack Packman pointed to the spot.

Hawks’ goalkeeper was left rooted to the spot and looked to his left as Carew slotted in his right-footed penalty, the goal timed at 27:59.

“Ashley’s been our penalty taker now for two seasons and a bit and he’s always pretty cool in that situation,” said Rose.

“I thought Roman committed the defender and we know that he can do that. Obviously we got our just deserts.”

Dulwich Hamlet scored a flattering third, timed at 30 minutes and 4 seconds.

It was a sweeping three-man move, finished off by Clunis.

Michael-Percill swept the ball in from the left to Sekajja in the middle, who laid the ball out to the unmarked Clunis, who steered his first time shot across the keeper into the bottom far corner.

Rose added: “Very good move.   I like to see Nyren coming in at the back post and that’s where he gets the goals.

“I think with Clunis and Sekajja in particular from wide areas they’re always on the back post and that’s how we scored two of our goals today.   Those sort of runs are difficult because the ball doesn’t always come to you and you’re gambling. Those guys kept on gambling and you get your just rewards because the more times you keep on doing that, the more chance you’ve got of scoring.”

Michael-Percill saw his 30-yard shot sail over the Harlow crossbar, before Edwards saw Jordan Castrien’s looping shot drop on to the roof of his net at the other end.

Dulwich Hamlet kept Reid quiet until the 85th minute, the striker cutting in from the right and curling his left-footed shot around the diving Edwards and just around the foot of the far post from 30-yards.

“I thought there was miss-communication with the back three in terms of who was picking him up.  No one did in the end and he ghosted in and gets his opportunity,” said Rose.

Ngamb then put Read through on goal and attempted to chip the ball over the advancing Edwards, who stuck out his arm to make a vital block.

Rose added: “Very good from Preston, came out, stayed big, made it hard for him, but too easy for him to get in.”

The referee pointed to the spot for a second time when Small played a low cross in from the right and Chambers clipped Read at the near post from inside the six-yard box.

Read stepped up and sent Edwards the wrong way, slotting his right-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner. The goal timed at 48:39 was too little too late for Danny Chapman’s men and was the 27th league goal that Dulwich Hamlet have let in this season.

“I thought it was dubious to be honest,” added Rose.

“They played the ball on the ground and it came from behind Michael so Michael wouldn’t have been aware that he (Read) was actually there! He’s just gone to clear the ball, which he actually did, and the guys caught his leg, his trailing leg, so pretty harsh but that’s how it goes.  The boys deserved a clean sheet.”

Leiston top the Ryman Premier League table on 30 points from 12 games, while the four play-off places are presently occupied by Bognor Regis Town (30 points from 14 games), Havant & Waterlooville (29 from 13), Needham Market (28 from 14) and Tonbridge Angels (23 from 11). 

Dulwich Hamlet are now sixth on 21 points from 15 games, but before tonight’s five games only six points separated then sixth-placed AFC Sudbury and Leatherhead in the bottom four.

“We probably should be maybe nine points better off to be honest with you,” added Rose.

“We’ve dropped some points that we shouldn’t have dropped so far this season so we’re playing catch-up.  We’ll take each game as it comes and Saturday we’ll try and do well, try to take the points and we’ll take it from there.

“We don’t want to be anywhere near that (relegation zone) so we need to try to get some points together and get ourselves up amongst the boys at the top of the league and then see where we go from there.”

Rose saw his side come away from AFC Sudbury with a 2-2 draw on the opening day of the season and they welcome them to Champion Hill for the return on Saturday.

“I thought it was a good team.  We went down there and we shaded it.  They nicked a 2-2.  They’re pretty organised so we expect pretty much the same but we’re going to try to get the points again.

“We could do with a break. We could do with a few midweek breaks and the boys recharging themselves and getting away from niggly injuries.”

Dulwich Hamlet: Preston Edwards, Sanchez Ming, Nathan Green, Kenny Beaney, Matt Drage, Michael Chambers, Nyren Clunis, Ashley Carew, Dumebi Dumaka (Daniel Carr 79), Gavin Tomlin (Roman Michael-Percill 63), Ibra Sekajja (Mark Weatherstone 79).
Subs: Kevin James, Kadell Daniel

Goals: Ibra Sekajja 35, Ashley Carew 73 (penalty), Nyren Clunis 76

Harlow Town: Ed Thompson, Syrus Gordon (Jordan Castrien 77), Layne Eadie, Lawrence Justin-Yiga, Ibrahima Sonko, Fabion Simms (Joe Benjamin 31), Bamba Ngamb, Stanley Muguo, Alex Read, Leon Antoine (Lewis Perkins 57), Jared Small.
Subs: Craig Pope, Maxwell Tiley

Goal: Alex Read 90 (penalty)

Attendance: 750
Referee: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Jack Fagg (Canterbury) & Mr Piotr Zachwieja (Chatham)


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