HAMLET TURN UP THE HEAT AS RAMS ROASTED
Dulwich Hamlet 3 Ramsgate 0
Ryman Isthmian League Division One South
Saturday 18th August 2012
"I was walking among the fires of Hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity." Hellish heat at the Hamlet as the new season exploded into life, the thirst for football slaked by a Dulwich performance, at first all fever and fury. Following the first minute dismissal of Rams keeper Ashley Bourne and Peter Adeniyi's subsequent wasted penalty, Dulwich survived a stonewall penalty shout from their depleted opponents before an eight minute three goal blitz midday through the first half sent out a warning signal that Gavin Rose's men are back, doubly determined to dismiss the disappointment of seasons past.
With tightening purse strings at the Hill, Rose has spent a summer juggling the gelt as well as the goals whilst most have set their eyes on Britain's golden summer in far off Stratford, Dorset and Eton Dorney. Fine servants have been reluctantly released yet Rose has proved a canny judge of footballing flesh, bringing back a number of familiar faces, even if some of those had played but fleeing cameo roles in Hamlet XI's past. One of those returning to the fold, the much-travelled Carl Wilson-Dennis was at the epicentre of an explosive start to the game as Dulwich attacked down the jugular of the Rams' defence. Squeals for offside peppered the air as Wilson-Dennis slipped the shackled of a slipshod defence, the big striker about to sidestep the 'keeper and leave himself with the simple task of golden renaissance for Pink and Blue homecoming when Bourne unceremoniously ripped his legs away from under him. 45 seconds, perhaps less, had elapsed and the Rams found themselves facing down the barrel of a gun, as the red card sprang from Mr Farrer's top pocket and Bourne trudged away to the shade of the stands, his afternoon over before it had begun.
A seemingly endless delay followed as Peter Adeniyi stood over the ball awaiting the arrival of Bourne's understudy. Winger Steve O'Brien was the sacrificial Ram, making way for Shannon Harris who would go straight in front of the firing squad. But Adeniyi's aim was off, Champion Hill echoing to groans of disappointment as the spot kick was dragged tamely wide.
As often happens the ten men of Ramsgate found
strength in adversity, yet fortune seemed not to favour them. A
rampaging run from electrifying young forward Tom Chapman, surging
past Josh Turner on the left flank, was abruptly brought to a halt
on the brink of the box as Turner lunged into an ill-timed
last-ditch attempt to nick the ball away from his opponent's toes.
The foul seemed a tad inside the penalty area, Mr Farrer
ball a matter of millimetres outside the area; Dulwich survived by the skin of their teeth as the free kick came to naught a whipped close-range volley skimming the crossbar.
Stung Dulwich burst back and eventually made the crucial breakthrough with 20 minutes on the clock. Ellis Green, his motor pouring like a fine-tuned Jaguar, broke free of his marker as he swerved in from the wings, a peach of a low drive, arrowed like a javelin hard and fast into the far bottom corner from 18 yards out.
Five minutes later Dulwich heaped further misery on the traveling Rams as dogged determination kept the pressure on the visitors rear-guard after a first failed free kick. The original dead ball delivery had been thwarted but only cleared to whence it had come, this time Kevin James making no mistake with pinpoint precision towards the failsafe target of Lewis Gonsalves head. Put a cross on the Hamlet skipper's nifty noggin in the opposition box and one can almost bet one's house that their keeper will be picking it out of net seconds later. So it came to pass as Gonsalves made no mistake, netting from close range at the back stick.
With Dulwich's success of late built on a watertight defence, the task facing the roasted Rams was a monumental one, one made even tougher as Green bagged his double with a carbon copy of the afternoon's opener, his searing low strike give Harris not a prayer.
As the mercury in the thermometer rose higher, the temperature pushing into the high 80s in old money, hotter than the deserts of Casablanca, so the game began to ease off. Hardly sensible to playing at full throttle in such blistering conditions. Dulwich Hamlet made changes, Luke Hickey took over from Kalvin Morath-Gibbs at the break, Dominic Weston returned in the van midway through the half yet the biggest cheer was reserved for the appearance of Frankie Sawyer who many had feared might be lost for a large chunk of the campaign to injury. For Sawyer it might well have been bountiful return when he capitalised on a slip in defence only for Harris to dash from his goal, blocking well at close range late on.
Yet kudos must be paid to the Rams who showed spirit in defeat keeping the Hamlet offence under wraps, closing down quickly and tackling hard at every opportunity to keep the floodgates from gushing open. Indeed their résistance might have been rewarded with the odd goal in the latter stages, Chapman, pacy and positive, always threatening yet frustrated in front of goal either by Dulwich's resolute rear-guard or off kilter finishing. It was not until almost the last whistle that Phil Wilson was finally called into action, local folk hero, Michael Yianni, bursting through on the right a buzzing low strike snaffled up by the big man low on his line.