TRAMS RAILROAD ROSE RETURN
The Gavin Rose era began on the cusp of a thunderstorm, the last vestiges of which streaked the sky, rumbled through the heavy air, as the start was delayed for a quarter hour. Whilst other parts of the Langley Sports complex had succumbed to the earlier torrents the chosen pitch a hearty yomp from the refreshing embrace of the bar had drained well provided a slick surface that would suit the passing game so beloved of the new Dulwich Hamlet supremo.
A healthy crowd, which would not have shamed a competitive meeting, both sets of supporters curious to see the first embryos of their respective new management's plans for the coming campaign was swelled by a plethora of ground hoppers keen to add a new ground to their curricula vitŠ.
Amidst the Dulwich XI that lined up for the start of the game were a number of familiar faces, perhaps more than reports had let supporters to anticipate. Contrary to expectations, the ASPIRE Academy contributed but a few players to the starting XI with familiar faces such as Tim Roberts between the sticks, Justin Bowen stiffening the rearguard, Alex Tiesse oiling the cogs of midfield and Jamie Findlay in unfamiliar central attacking role in the first throes. It was the unlikely centre forward Findlay who would give Hamlet an almost instantaneous lead, neatly slotting the ball under the advancing Croydon keeper after just five minutes.
Both sides enjoyed a vigorous workout, Dulwich pinging the ball about in a fashion that would have played the boss, Croydon most dangerous through raids on the Dulwich left flank, a hulking centre forward in stark contrast to the slight figure of Findlay in the Dulwich vanguard. In spite of the quick fire football further goals would not come before the break though Tiesse was disparately unlucky with a scooped drive from the edge of the area that had the Trams custodian clawing at the air as the ball swerved in the air hen dipped behind him only to crack down from the underside of the crossbar and bounce away from the goal line.
A brisk shower freshened the air at the half as Dulwich made a number of changes amongst them Rose and his number two Junior Kadi. Whilst the changes were being bedded in Dulwich conceded a frustrating equaliser as Roberts gambled on coming for a through ball only to finish second best to his protagonist, a traillist who apparently went by the name of Zim Lita. The grateful Tram had the simplest of tasks of slipping the ball home into the now unprotected net.
Not disheartened Dulwich continued to with the polished play but found a determined Trams outfit eager to impress. Best of the chances fell to Kadi who drilled a hair-trigger shot towards the far corner of the net only for Croydon's number one to fling himself across his goal to batter the ball away.
With not long left Croydon were denied a second goal in circumstances that might have provoked more vehement protests in a more meaningful match, the man in black, himself in need of copious pre-season training, put the brakes on the Trams to award a free kick in their favour just as the ball was being furiously hammered past Roberts. Perhaps justice was down at the death when Croydon won the match with a finely taken goal, the Trams' left winger toying with Dulwich's right back before lashing over a pin-perfect cross that was met with a textbook header from Tim Murdock who rose at the back of the six yard box to direct a header low inside Roberts' left-hand upright.
Both managers were sanguine about the final outcome, the chance to look at players in action more important than the result and preferring to concentrate on the positives. "To be honest, it was more about the football, the result was irrelevant. It's always nice to get a win, but it was nice, it was a good workout, a hard workout, probably harder than I would have planned had it been my pre-season.", Croydon's Robbins was quoted as saying. It was sentiments that Rose was in full accord with.