Dulwich Hamlet 0-0 Metropolitan Police - Maybe on another day we might have nicked it, says Dulwich Hamlet boss Gavin Rose

Sunday 22nd March 2015

Ryman Premier League
Saturday 21st February 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium

DULWICH HAMLET boss Gavin Rose has told his players not to be concerned about winning the Ryman Premier League title after being held to a disappointing stalemate by Metropolitan Police.

CROWDS: Dulwich Hamlet attracted their ninth four-figure crowd of the season for the visit of fellow play-off chasers Metropolitan Police

The Hamlet attracted their second largest home crowd of the season when 1,459 fans flocked through the turnstiles, which was the ninth four-figure crowd of the season at Champion Hill Stadium.

The club remain in third-place in the table on 68 points from 36 games, five point adrift of leaders Maidstone United, who threw away a 2-0 lead at the break to draw at Leiston today.  The Stones, however, do have three games in hand.

Metropolitan Police manager Jim Cooper got his tactics spot on as they snuffed out Dulwich Hamlet’s threat and as a result of their tenth league draw of the season remain in sixth-place on 55 points from 31 games, one point behind East Thurrock United.

Only four Ryman Premier League games survived the wet weather today and they all ended in draws.

“We’ve played them three times so far this season and it has been quite tight in all games so nothing really surprises us,” admitted Rose after his side’s eighth league draw of the season.

“Both teams were extremely tight so it’ll come down to the odd goal, maybe a bit of a tactical change or something like that.”

Rose added: “I think they defend well every week to be honest from what I’ve seen of them. They always seem to defend well.  I don’t think it’s anything special against us.  I think they’re just build from a decent formation.  They’re there or there abouts (around) the top five. I think it’s nothing new.”

Dulwich Hamlet debutant, striker Tom Derry, 20, was denied a goal inside the opening fifteen minutes.

Ashley Carew’s corner from the right found the Lambeth-born striker but his downward header at the far post was blocked.

Metropolitan Police’s best chances of scoring during the first half came from free-kicks.

Left-back Jay Lovett swung in a free-kick from the left towards the far post and striker Joe Turner glanced his header around the far post from six-yards after 21 minutes.

Carew put in a cross from the left into the Metropolitan Police box and a poor headed clearance from Nicki Ahamed fell at Derry’s head, who hooked his left-footed shot over the bar from 12-yards.

“Tom’s a scholar at Charlton, a young pro and he’s found himself playing at a few non-league club’s this year, Aldershot to name a few,” revealed Rose.

“He’s asked to come down until now and the end of the season. He’s probably lacking a bit of match fitness but he’s a natural goalscorer, so once we get him fit and up and running then he’ll be a (good signing).

Dulwich Hamlet called visiting keeper Craig King into making a comfortable save on the half-an-hour mark when he got down to catch Carew’s stroked right-footed free-kick towards goal from 25-yards.

Metropolitan Police almost grabbed the lead only 51 seconds later.

Charlie Collins whipped in a free-kick from the right, which was headed across goal by Rob Bartley and his central defensive partner Steve Sutherland planted his header over from a tight angle.

Bartley and Sutherland were rock solid at the back and Rose said: “We lost to Metropolitan Police in the FA Trophy and they scored from two set-pieces so we knew they’re very good from a dead-ball so nothing really changes there.  The boy takes a really good dead-ball so it’s an obvious threat.”

Winger Collins progressed down the right and his over-hit cross was retrieved on the by-line by Bradley Hudson-Odoi on the other side of the pitch. The number ten cut the ball back for Lovett to whip in a first time cross but Elliot Tayler directed his header wide at the far post.

But the best chance to break the stalemate came Dulwich Hamlet’s way in the 39th minute.

Carew broke down the left inside his own half and released Derry, who found himself hugging the left touch-line.  He whipped in a low cross which was brought under Luke Wanadio’s spell, before the winger cut the ball back to central midfielder Jack Dixon, whose first time shot from 18-yards produced a smart diving save from King, diving to his right to tip around the post.

Rose added: “I thought the goalkeeper was superb!  He was sporadic in terms of what he had to do but when he was called upon I thought he did really well for them. A nice save low down to his right from Jack. It was decent.”

Dulwich Hamlet keeper Phil Wilson gathered the ball to his left comfortably after Hudson-Odoi cut in from the left and his right-footed cross-shot from 20-yards appeared to be heading past the far post.

Metropolitan Police striker Turner cut in from the left before stroking his shot harmlessly past the near post before referee Graham Kane called time on a poor first half.

When asked what he told his troops at the break, Rose said: “Just a couple of things in terms of how we could possibly hurt them and be more of a threat and using a different formation again.

“The boys did alright. We changed it again going to our regular formation halfway through the half and I thought we ended the half really well actually.”

The Police spread the ball about inside the first three minutes of the second half and following a move involving eleven passes, Tayler clipped his half-volley towards the corner flag from 22-yards. It was a game of limited chances.

Former Dulwich Hamlet midfielder Billy Crook played the ball inside to his partner Nicki Ahamed, who stroked his low right-footed drive from 25-yards, which was comfortably saved to Wilson, diving low to his right.

Rose admitted he was pleased with the defensive play from his side.

“That’s a good thing from us. I feel because it was more of a tactical game, it was always going to go own to maybe a mistake or really, really good play so we knew it’s always going to be tight when you play against teams at the top and it proved to be the same again today.”

Rose made a triple-substitution in the 66th minute, bringing on left-winger Albert Jarrett and strikers Xavier Vidal and Dean McDonald to add fresh impetus in a dead game.

The manager said: “We just felt we needed to freshen it up! We went with a slightly different way of playing, which obviously causes the opposition a little bit of a change around and a re-jig.

“We created a few opportunities. I thought Albert came on and looked quite lively. It was unlucky. Maybe on another day we might have nicked it!”

Inside the final 20 minutes, Jarrett and McDonald linked up down the left and Vidal’s right-footed shot on the turn from 12-yards was saved by King, low to his left.

Crook fed Ahamed down the right and his low centre from the right-hand side of the penalty box deflected off Ethan Pinnock and Wilson saved low to his right to prevent an own-goal from the Hamlet central defender.

That was the last chance that Metropolitan Police created, and the Surrey outfit have now gone three league games without scoring.

Dulwich Hamlet created two late chances to win the game.

Carew stroked his 25-yard free-kick around the wall and curling just past the near post, before a world-class save from King maintained a point.

Carew whipped in a cross from the right towards the near post and McDonald’s flicked volley from inside the six-yard box was destined to creep inside the bottom near corner, but King somehow got down quickly low to his left to parry, before gobbling up the loose ball.

Rose said: “That last bit of action with Dean and the goalkeeper was probably not belonging to this level.

“Dean adjusted, the ball was coming into him from a different angle. It took a deflection and he basically re-adjusted himself and put a volley in and the keeper’s got down really low and made a great reaction save.”

Metropolitan Police maintained their unbeaten record against promotion chasing Hamlet this season.

“We’ve played three times against them and it’s been very similar so I don’t think we can go out and say we were better than them because it was a stalemate,” admitted Rose.

Despite a Premier League clash between Crystal Palace and Arsenal and a Championship derby between Millwall and Fulham, Rose was delighted with the numbers watching his team.

He said: “It’s good. The players need to realise that this is not normal for non-league football and they’re playing in front of a crowd and they should love playing football in front of a crowd and they should really enjoy it because teams have maybe 100-200 people watching them and that’s hard to motivate yourselves, so this isn’t normal so you should really enjoy it for as long as you can.”

Dulwich Hamlet travel to eleventh-placed Bognor Regis Town next Saturday, before hosting second-from-bottom VCD Athletic seven days later.

Speaking about Bognor Regis, Rose said: “Tough. Always good, tactically strong and they pass the ball really well so that will be a good game for us, a good test, a good challenge and we’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can come away with the points.”

Former Hamlet player Ray Powell is Tony Russell’s number two at Crayford-based VCD.

“They’ve picked up their form of late so that will be a tough game for us,” warned Rose.

“We knew that anywhere you go you need to well turn up.  It doesn’t matter where they are in the league. We lost to Lewes (in midweek) who are in the bottom part of the league and that just shows the league table doesn’t mean anything.”

Dulwich Hamlet: Phil Wilson, Michael Abnett, Frazer Shaw, Jack Dixon, Terrell Forbes, Ethan Pinnock, Luke Wanadio (Albert Jarrett 66), Jordan Hibbert, Harry Ottaway (Xavier Vidal 66), Tom Derry (Dean McDonald 66), Ashley Carew.
Subs: Kevin James, Michael Kamara

Booked: Luke Wanadio 38, Jack Dixon 80

Metropolitan Police: Craig King, Will Salmon, Jay Lovett, Billy Crook, Steve Sutherland, Rob Bartley, Charlie Collins, Nicki Ahamed, Joe Turner, Bradley Hudson-Odoi (Billy Medlock 83), Elliot Tayler (Jamie Lovegrove 71).
Subs: James Aldred, Ricardo Joseph, Scott Tarr

Booked: Rob Bartley 30, Billy Crook 61

Attendance 1,459
Referee: Mr Graham Kane (Brighton, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Errol Walker (Colliers Wood, London SW19) & Mr Daniel Hayes (Coventry, West Midlands)