HAMLET THROUGH IN A CAULDRON OF A CUP TIE
Dulwich Hamlet dispensed with troublesome Broxbourne at the second time of asking but not without human cost in full-bloodied battle at the Goffs Lane home of their South Midlands Spartan League hosts. The headaches began before the kick-off as Steve May was delayed on his way from work making kick-off with a matter of minutes to spare, a vital cog might have been for May was to move into the centre back role with skipper Ryan Bernard on the bench. 15 minutes of no holds barred football, not tackling but grabbling more suited to a Saturday afternoon at Catford Town Hall with Kent Walton behind the mike. One half expected some stage-managed granny to bolt from the stands, brollie poised to strike down some poor unfortunate whose tackling had riled her. Instead it was a brace of players doing the marching, back down the rudimentary tunnel to the dressing rooms as Peter Martin took exception to a two footed lunge from the Boro's Saturday saviour and after blows had been traded referee Gavin Muge had not alternative but to brandish a red card and send the crestfallen pair slopping sluggishly to an early shower. The thinning of the numbers should have favoured the hosts, an out and out striker sacrificed for them, a right back for the Hamlet but instead once the blueness had seeped from the night air it was Dulwich who exploited space to take the lead. The ball wheedled out to Scott Simpson, lurking out on the left wing and with defenders snapping a his heels he drove to the edge of the area to let rip with a fierce low drive that gave Mark Virgo in the host goal little chance of rescuing his laboured defence.
If this was promise of a Dulwich rampage it struggled to materialise for though the Hamlet held the noses under lock and key for much of the half they could not make enough of the chances that came their way. A spectacular scissors kick by Fas Koroma, drafted in the hitman role, failed to come off whilst all Broxbourne could muster in reply was a shot well off the mark as a low cross was drilled in from the left. On the very brink of the break it should have been a second for once as Simpson's industry on the wing, determination and tricky in the box, saw a chipped cross pick out Laurent Hamici rattling in at the back of the box only to misfire with his shot and see the ball flash across the goal and beyond the opposite post.
Barely had the players left the sanctuary of the changing rooms than battle was joined once more. The ebullient Hamici blazed in the opening attack then not long after saw a bullet drive heading for a chink in the top corner of Virgo's net clawed away by the alert custodian. Mr Muge's card toaster was soon pinning ready once more as a prehistoric challenge from Bradley Poole saw him become the second Boro' boy booked.
The high work rate was certainly taking its toll on both XIs and mistake might prove telling. Fortunately when presented with the ball in just such a situation Lee Teagle was not to take advantage of the munificence of the Hamlet, instead shooting straight in the midriff of Jamie Lunan, to whom the ball had been a stranger for much of the preceding hour and a quarter.
Then with ten minutes to go it all went pear-shaped as a booming throw-in caused consternation in the Dulwich defence, the ball was not cleared fully and in the melee a free kick was conceded on the far edge of the area. A sever case of "after you, Claude" as the ball was drilled low across the penalty spot, players of either hue shying from the ball until Matt Kearney struck a booty to stab the ball home from 5 yards out.
What was left in the tank for the Hamlet? Would this be a dagger through the heart that had sustained them so long in a furious battle? The dark shadow of extra-time, maybe even penalties, was cast over Goffs Lane but Dulwich sipped once more from the well of courage. Five minutes were left, a corner was one and rising to meet the delivery as Poseidon from the waves was Marc Cumberbatch, arching to meet the ball with a venom-laden header too powerful for Virgo as it singed his outstretched gloves on it way to the back of the net. Red in shirt, red in blood, red in heart, Dulwich had clinched a place in the next round, a visit to Oxhey Jets. But still this enthralling evening had a bitter postscript. An overjoyed Lunan launched into a jig of joy to which the homesters took exception along with Mr Muge who took his evenings card count to seven, a trio of reds (2-1 to the Hamlet) and quartet of yellows all to the hosts.
Pictures coutesy of Andy Nunn - click here for more