Dulwich Hamlet 2-0 Dartford - We have to perform at the levels that we have shown we can over the last month if we're going to maintain a play-off place, says Dartford joint-manager Jamie Coyle

Saturday 02nd March 2019
Dulwich Hamlet 2 – 0 Dartford
Location Champion Hill Stadium, Dog Kennel Hill, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, London SE22 8BD
Kickoff 02/03/2019 15:00

Vanarama National League South
Saturday 2 March 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium

DARTFORD joint-manager Jamie Coyle says his play-off chasing side received a wake-up call after slipping up at Dulwich Hamlet.

The Darts arrived at Champion Hill on a five match unbeaten run in the Vanarama National League South and in seventh-place in the pecking order with 53 points on the board.

Dulwich Hamlet rose a couple of places into sixteenth with 35 points from their 33 league games and are now eight points clear of the relegation zone, which is occupied by East Thurrock United, Hungerford Town and Weston-super-Mare.

Watched by a crowd of 2,779, Dulwich Hamlet’s left-wing-back Jamie Mascoll cracked in a sublime volley on his second home-debut since his loan move from Sky Bet League One side Charlton Athletic.

Dulwich Hamlet sealed the points – ending a run of three games without a win – by scoring on the break through super-sub striker Decarrey Sheriff, who has now scored five goals in eight appearances, mostly as a substitute.

“Disappointed with the performance as well as the result today,” said Coyle, after Dartford suffered their ninth league defeat in 32 league outings.

“I think we’ve been on a fantastic run recently.  Our quality and a little bit of our work-ethic today was lacking.  I thought the better team on the day won the game to be honest with you.

“It was a great atmosphere, they get a lot of fans here and they get a good following and our fans were in good voice earlier on in the game but we got done. The second goal we’re obviously trying to push on and get the equaliser and the first one was the best bit of quality and a bit of quality in the whole first half and a great finish from the left-back.”

Dulwich Hamlet boss Gavin Rose said: “Perfect performance!  Dartford have been very good of late. They’ve played most of the top teams in the league and been successful. They’re a good team and you can see why.

“I thought we limited them today to a few opportunities to generally score a goal. Credit to the team as a whole for listening to the way that we wanted to play.  We respect what their dangers were and I thought we done that well and we battled really hard.

“Dartford are a good team, they work hard for each other and they can pass the ball well as well and I thought we restricted that.

“It’s not an easy pitch to play on out there, especially as it goes on, but I thought both teams tried to play as well as they could.  At times we passed the ball well, our work-rate and will to work for each other was very good.”

The game had a derby feel to it as both sides gave little away and goalscoring chances during the first half were at a premium.

Dulwich Hamlet created the first opening when Mascoll swung in their first of four corners and centre-half George Essuman hooked the ball across goal at the far post. The ball came out to Luke Wanadio, who dragged his left-footed shot past the right-hand post from 20-yards.

Dartford’s first opening came in the ninth minute when striker Phil Roberts broke down the left and as Essuman came across to close the door, he crossed for Darren McQueen to sweep his shot past the near post from the corner of the six-yard box as Quade Taylor closed him down.

“We just said at the end of the game there, how many times have we actually worked the goalkeeper today? I don’t think we’ve done it enough, whether it’s set-pieces, whether it’s open play, we haven’t really looked like a threat today,” admitted Coyle.

“Recently we’ve been very, very good but it’s just a bad day at the office today but we’ve got to remember that we’ve been performing brilliantly recently and have picked up some fantastic points.

“Today is a little bit of a wake-up call that we’re going to have to turn up between now and the end of the season and perform at the levels that we’ve shown we can over the last month if we’re going to maintain a play-off place.”

Mascoll threaded the ball down the channel down the left-hand side and Nathan Green seized on the chance and swept his left-footed angled drive flashing across the keeper and past the far post from 20-yards.

Dartford’s diminutive striker McQueen got no change from towering centre-half Essuman, as Dulwich Hamlet’s three centre-halves gave their high-flying localish rivals little chance to score or impress.

Dartford centre-half Ronnie Vint was forced into trying to score from a free-kick on the half-way line.  He noticed goalkeeper Preston Edwards off his line but his effort sailed harmlessly wide.

Dulwich Hamlet produced a moment of sheer quality as they deservedly took the lead with 26 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock.

Nyren Clunis turned Ben Greenhalgh on the right and whipped in a great deep cross which was met by Mascoll’s first-time left-footed volley from 12-yards, which he placed across the keeper and watched the ball nestle into the bottom far corner.

“I’ve been watching Jamie do that since he was 15 in the Academy so it wasn’t as much of a big surprise to me,” admitted Rose.

“He always will back himself in those sort of areas but I think he was our stand out player today because he works really hard on and off the ball and defended really well with a lot of heart and desire and showed what quality (he has) off the ball as well. I’d say he was our top stand-out performer today.”

Coyle added: “It was the best bit of quality for the whole game really.

“I thought it was a fantastic finish from the lad. He took it on the volley first time. It was a great goal.  Bailey didn’t have a chance. It was a really good goal from their perspective. It was a brilliant goal but we didn’t really match that with regards to the quality today.”

Dartford midfielder Elliot Bradbrook poked the ball into Billy Crook, whose diagonal pass along the deck was collected by Roberts out wide on the left. He cut into the edge of the penalty area and his right-footed shot was charged down and Edwards stepped to his right to pick up the rolling ball.

Dulwich Hamlet centre-half Michael Chambers put one on Dartford winger Lee Noble and Greenhalgh whipped a left-footed free-kick over the wall from 35-yards and Edwards dived to his right to see the ball bounce just wide.

Coyle said:  “I don’t know whether it was close but the keeper had it covered. He tried to catch him a little bit. I thought he was going to cross it but he whipped it near post and I thought the keeper had it covered.”

A frustrated Roberts tried to score from inside the Dartford half when his first time speculative shot from 55-yards flew into Edwards midriff.

Dulwich Hamlet forced Dartford keeper Bailey Vose into making a save with the last kick of the half.

Bonner lost possession to Nathan Green in the centre-circle and threaded the ball forward for striker Afolabi Akinyemi, who charged forward with the ball, skipped past Vint’s sliding tackle and once inside the area his left-footed rasping drive was plucked out of the air by Vose at his near post.

Unfortunately, Rose only answered questions from Dulwich Hamlet’s in-house media team during the post-match press conference so will not know what he thought at the break and what he thought of Edwards’ brilliant second half save.

Coyle said: “I think we need more! We demanded more from the players because although it was a game of not many chances in the first half, I thought we had a little bit more to offer than what we showed in the first half.  Considering the performances that we put in recently, it just wasn’t to be today. It was a bad day at the office and it’s a real disappointing performance collectively as the result today.”

Holding midfielder Aryan Tajbakhsh played the ball into Green, whose left-footed shot on the turn from 25-yards was comfortably held by Bailey Vose in the Dartford goal eight minutes into the second half.

Greenhalgh then fed McQueen but his deflected drive flashed past the far post from 25-yards, as Edwards was protected by a well-organised and resilient back three of Taylor, Essuman and Chambers.

The start of the second half brought a flurry of chances as Greenhalgh’s corner from the right came out to Vint, whose shot on the turn from 12-yards lacked power and Edwards gathered comfortably.

Dulwich Hamlet missed a glorious chance to double their lead in the 55th minute.

Wanadio – who is on loan from Vanarama National League strugglers Aldershot Town – ran with the ball through the heart of the pitch and played in Akinyemi, who lashed his left-footed shot over the top of the near post from eight-yards, possibly put-off by Bonner’s last-man sliding tackle.

Dartford went close to equalising four minutes later, following a good move down the right.

Noble played a one-two with full-back Dan Johnson and Noble whipped in a cross towards the near post where an unmarked Roberts glanced his header across the keeper and past the far post from six-yards out.

Sloppy defending from Bonner let in Akinyemi at the halfway point but he was grateful to Bailey Vose, who came out and narrowed the angle on the by-line to ensure he made the block and the ball bounced behind for a corner.

There was a crowd of players inside the Dartford penalty area by the time Tajbakhsh played the ball into Green, who dragged his shot wide from 25-yards.

But Coyle highlighted his side’s best chance to equalise with 15 minutes remaining.

Greenhalgh split open the Dulwich Hamlet defence by playing the ball behind Essuman to put Roberts through on goal and the Dartford striker cut into the box and Edwards pulled off a brilliant save, getting down low to his left to parry the ball in a one-on-one situation.

Coyle said: “Our only chance of the game is a great ball down the side of their right centre-half that we’ve been asking them to do, which we’ve been doing recently, and put Phil through one-on-one.

“I thought the keeper made an outstanding save down to his left-hand side and that was the only real opportunity that we’ve had today and that was testament to Dulwich.

“If it’s one player you want it to fall to, it’s Phil, but he’s only really had one chance today and forced a fantastic save out of Preston and that’s the disappointing thing today, we haven’t knocked on the door enough.

“I thought defensively they defended really well and they dealt with the boys up top but then they were feeding off scraps today.  I don’t think we played too many quality balls in to them down the sides to ask them questions.”

Mascoll and Wanadio were involved and space opened up in front of Clunis, who tried to bend a low shot into the bottom far corner from 22-yards, but the Dartford keeper stepped to his left to make a comfortable save.

Dartford’s players started to get frustrated as they found no way through a well-organised Duwlich Hamlet defence and Rose’s men eased their relegation worries by wrapping up the victory six seconds into time added on, with all three of their substitutes combining.

Dominic Vose was left in acres of space on the left-wing inside the Dartford half and he cut in towards the edge of the box before playing the ball inside to Michael Onovwigun, who from inside the D, hit a low shot which was parried by Bailey Vose and Sheriff slid in to poke the ball across the diving keeper to find the bottom right-hand corner as Bonner slid in.

Rose said: “He’s a goalscorer. He’s literally is a goalscorer.  He reminds me of Dipo (Akinyemi), who came out of Stevenage. They’re both goalscorers actually and Decarrey seems to have that sniff and knack of being in and around it.

“When people are getting tired, the last thing they want to face is a player like Decarry. 

“I do want to give him more minutes from the start because I think he’s deserving of it but we have to make sure our shape is right first and foremost to be able to do that.”

Coyle added: “We were trying to break on the counter-attack and throw lots of bodies and Ronnie Vint went on a forward run and it got broken down. Elliot Bradbrook’s lost it in the middle of the park and they’ve scored.

“That goal happens because we’re trying to get an equaliser late on in the game so you try to excuse that one but it’s the whole collective today, which is a real disappointment.

“You can be very emotional after the game. The boys have been brilliant recently, they really have and I think at times you need games like that for a little bit of realisation that you’ve got to turn up and produce the levels that we’ve produced recently if we are going to stay in the play-offs.

“I think today our quality was poor for us to come here to Dulwich and only produce one real chance. 

“Yes, Dulwich have been brilliant in terms of defending, out of possession they were very, very good but we’ve also got to look at we had some great opportunities in their final third that didn’t lead to decent crosses or defence balls through to the front boys and shots on target.”

No side in the top 11 in the Vanarama National League South celebrated victory today.

Torquay United occupy the sole automatic promotion spot with 66 points from 32 out of 42 league games.

The six play-off places are occupied by Woking (66 points from 32 games); Chelmsford City (58 points from 32 games); Billericay Town (58 points from 33 games); Welling United (57 points from 33 games), Bath City (55 points from 32 games) and Dartford.  The Darts are three points clear of eighth-placed Wealdstone.

Adam Flanagan and Coyle take Dartford to fourteenth-placed side Hemel Hempstead Town (40 points) on Tuesday night and Coyle wants his side to recapture the form that saw them beat leaders Woking 2-0 at Princes Park last weekend.

“You look at what we’ve produced recently and we know and they know, the players, that we’re better than what we’ve shown today,” said Coyle.

“We’ve got a great opportunity against Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday night to show what we’re about and get the character of coming away from a defeat, a poor performance and hopefully we can bounce back on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be tough. They’re not out of the running for the play-offs and it’s going to be a really tough game. It’s always a hard place to go to but we’ve got the belief in those players that we can turn up and we’ve proved it.

“We beat Woking twice in the space of a couple of weeks and we beat Bath, who are up there and we’ve put on some really decent performances recently, so I’m sure the boys will show a reaction on Tuesday and hopefully get a positive result there.”

Coyle made his feelings known what he expects with 30 points left to play for this season.

“I don’t think any in the top 11 has won today so it was an opportunity for us to concrete ourselves a little bit better up in to the play-offs but it’s football, it happens and we just have to keep concentrating on ourselves and replicate the levels of performance that we’ve shown recently and if we do that then we’ll have a play-off place at the end of the season.”

Dulwich Hamlet travel to eleventh-placed St Albans City (47 points) next Saturday and Rose hopes beating Dartford will increase confidence in the camp as they bid to climb away from the relegation zone to avoid a return to the Isthmian League after their first season at this level.

Rose said:  “You have to make your own confidence, you’ve got to work through it. You can’t expect it to change, you have to change it as people, myself, my management team, the players.  We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to go out there and change our luck by working hard for each other and adapting.

“I don’t think we’re high of confidence. I just feel we knuckled down and we worked hard for each other and we tried to do our jobs the best we could.”

Dulwich Hamlet: Preston Edwards, Nyren Clunis, Jamie Mascoll, Quade Taylor, George Essuman, Michael Chambers, Nathan Green (Dominic Vose 72), Aryan Tajbakhsh, Afolabi Akinyemi (Decarrey Sheriff 84), Luke Wanadio (Michael Onovwigun 88), Nathan Ferguson.
Subs: Dan Thompson, Anthony Cook

Goals: Jamie Mascoll 27, Decarrey Sheriff 90

Booked: Nathan Green 22, Michael Chambers 37

Dartford: Bailey Vose, Dan Johnson (Callum Driver 60), Mark Onyemah, Billy Crook, Ronnie Vint, Tom Bonner, Ben Greenhalgh, Elliot Bradbrook, Phil Roberts, Darren McQueen (Andre Coker 77), Lee Noble.
Subs: Elliot Leveson, Tom Murphy, Max Walsh

Booked: Ronnie Vint 70, Lee Noble 86

Attendance: 2,779
Referee: Mr David Spain (Westfield, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Shelby Elson (Farnham, Surrey) & Mr Harry Scott (Aldershot, Hampshire)