Dulwich Hit K’s For Five on Boxing Day
Having spent Christmas day staring into the abyss, it was an easy transition to Boxing Day at Champion Hill since, for 80 minutes or so, all I could see was... well, not a lot; a soft distant haze of pink and blue at the opposite end attacking a blur of yellow, while in the space between only Dulwich keeper Phil Wilson who, truth be told, had little to do except exchange the odd pleasantry with the away support. Five times the home side scored and five times a curiously muffled roar emanated from the 1700-strong crowd. Twice I could just about make out Ryan Moss wheeling away in celebration, his shiny pink boots scurrying hither and thither but the overly dense Hamlet netting – this season's No 1 Ryman bugbear – concealed much of the build-up and aftermath of countless attacks.
But let's start at the beginning which, like Christmas morning, began, if not with hope, then at least a numb expectation of a 1-1 draw and perhaps a Moss own goal. The best thing in the match came after 10 minutes when K's, sitting back to hit on the break, did just that – Harold Odamatey rampaged forward past three home players, poked the ball through to Ricky Sappleton and the striker shifted it out of his feet and finished neatly with his left foot across Wilson's outstretched yet suspiciously flaccid hand.
Unfortunately, with Rio Ferdinand watching on, Dulwich simply woke up. In seasons past they've been very good at passing the ball from wing to wing but have lacked a central striker. Now they have Moss who, if the constant tannoy announcements calling for donations are any guide, is certainly charging a fair rate for his unquestionably reliable services.
For all the dominance and the daring of this Dulwich side, and for all their missed chances and for all Rob Tolfrey's outstanding saves, of which there were at least four, the Hamlet goals – when they came – were curious flukes. The header by Danny Waldren to equalise appeared to be a fortuitous reaction to an underhit long-range shot, Moss and Ashley Carew got tap-ins after non-descript moves, Ethan Pinnock made it 4-1 just after half-time and Moss rounded off the scoring with 20 minutes remaining with another stab-in-the-box.
Dulwich were well worthy of the win – K's looked under-par – not in a disastrous Sean-Ray-as-captain-and-Drage-in-midfield-at-East-Thurrock fashion but more in a distracted do-we-really-have-to-play-at-Christmas-is-there-a-full-motd-tonight-i-got-socks-from-my-nan-what-did-you-get sort of way.
So panic would be misplaced. We've just lost to two very good teams but we remain well-placed for the playoffs so long as we rediscover what has hitherto been working well, ie. A mean defence, a compact midfield, and Pico-Bennett-Sapps conjuring goals when needed. It's a mark of the faith fans now have in Tommyball that there were few frustrated shouts at Champion Hill, just the odd sigh and a vacant stare into what's left of 2015. Bring on Farnborough.
Match report by Taimour Lay.