I’m fully confident of getting a result there and getting promoted, says Dulwich Hamlet goalkeeper Preston Edwards
DULWICH HAMLET goalkeeper Preston Edwards says he has one thing on his mind next Monday afternoon – winning promotion!
Gavin Rose’s side put in an impressive performance to beat Enfield Town 4-2 in last night’s pulsating Ryman Premier League Play-Off Semi-Final.
A passionate crowd of 2,517 packed into the Champion Hill cauldron and Rose’s men delivered in style.
They got off to a dream start by taking the lead after only 46 seconds when Gavin Tomlin played in Ibra Sekajja, who slotted the ball under Nathan McDonald’s legs to send a packed stadium into raptures.
Clinical Dulwich Hamlet doubled their lead when Tomlin’s deep corner was chipped back across by Matt Drage and Sekajja rose to head in off the top of the post.
But the 24-year-old Ugandan striker’s hat-trick goal oozed class as just 78 seconds later he latched onto a poor backpass by Enfield straight from kick-off to chip the ball over the advancing McDonald’s outstretched arm, the ball dropping into the back of an empty net, to score his hat-trick in the 32nd minute.
Bradley Quinton’s side pulled a goal back seven minutes before half-time when former Hamlet midfielder Billy Crook’s shot went in off Ashley Carew’s right leg at the near post for an own-goal.
Tomlin swept home Dulwich Hamlet’s fourth goal in the 65th minute, following a fine move involving Ibrahim Kargbo and Sekajja, before Harry Ottaway hooked in Enfield Town’s second with five minutes of the entertaining game remaining.
Edwards pulled off two low saves in the first half and two brilliant saves in the second half as Enfield Town – who arrived on an eight-match unbeaten run – never gave up – but Dulwich Hamlet were just too good.
Rose takes his side to Nyewood Lane to play Bognor Regis Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
Bognor Regis Town needed a last minute Ollie Pearce winner to see off Wingate & Finchley, who cancelled out Pearce’s opener though Sean Cronin’s 86th minute spot-kick, to win 2-1 at home.
The Rocks finished second in the table with 92 points on the board from their 46 games, a couple of points adrift of promoted champions Havant & Waterlooville, who bounced back from relegation from the Vanarama National League South at the first attempt.
Edwards insists he wants to join them, as Dulwich Hamlet look to create history and win promotion and end their 110-year membership of the Isthmian League.
“I’d imagine they’ll start as favourites because of where they finished up in the league but I know on our day we’re the best team in the league and I’m fully confident of getting a result there and getting promoted,” said Edwards, 27.
“That was our aim at the start of July and let’s make it our aim at the start of May.
“We’re in a for a tough game. I know that Bognor are a very good side.
“It will mean the world, that’s what we’re here for. Dulwich are a big club, especially in this league and our mindset was to get promoted straight away. That’s what we’re here for, so if we don’t I’ll class it as a failure but it all goes down to Monday. I’m sure we’ll get over the line.”
Rose’s players will attend light training on Saturday before travelling down to Nyewood Lane for the winner-takes-all showdown.
When asked how he will prepare for the game, Edwards, the former Ebbsfleet United stopper said: “You’ve got to keep it as normal as you can. Don’t try to do anything too much different because the occasion can get to you sometimes, especially with so much at stake.
“Last year (play-off final losing 3-1 at East Thurrock United) we never turned up, personally as well, so hopefully we can turn up better on Monday. We’ve got a decent set of players, so I think we’re stronger this year.”
Edwards saved a penalty in last year’s semi-final at Bognor Regis Town, as Dulwich Hamlet won 1-0 courtesy of Ashley Carew’s late strike and Edwards knows Bognor Regis Town will be keen to keep his team-mates in the Isthmian Premier League, as it will be known next season.
He said: “Of course, no one wants to lose a play-off final.
“I’ve been promoted twice and I’ve lost two play-off finals as well so it hurts you when you lose, it really does hurt you. It affects you for a real good week and it’s such a long period before you play another game. It’s difficult but hopefully we can get over the line.
“We won the Semi-Final there last year and I saved a pen, hopefully there’s no penalties this time and I keep a clean sheet like I did last year.”
Visit Dulwich Hamlet’s website: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/dulwichhamlet
Bognor Regis Town v Dulwich Hamlet
Ryman Premier League Play-Off Final
Bank Holiday Monday 1 May 2017
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Nyewood Lane, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 2TY