Dulwich Crabs put through their paces by Putney

East Dulwich Sporting Crabs endured a one-nil defeat at the hands of their South London rivals the Putney Pacers. Daily Crab editor and Brixton resident Davy Gibson shares his reflections on the Crabs’ narrow loss in the Southern Sunday Football League.

East Dulwich Crabs FC

 East Dulwich’s dismal second half of the season continued with another league defeat last weekend. The Crabs lacked the cutting edge going forward and paid the all too familiar price as the Pacers edged a tight affair.

The sun beamed down, the birds sang, the s**t was smeared all over the toilet cubicle walls…everything was set for a Sunday League classic. The state of the changing room toilets aside, The Crabs needed to put their own s**t smeared form behind them as they headed into the game with one win in their last six games. Things were looking positive though, as John Martin boasted a squad of thirteen, which presented a few selection headaches that will be welcomed after the nine-man defeat at Wimbledon.

Martin named himself on the bench alongside Ali Dewji and his temperamental lower back. Taylor resumed an outfield position at left back after his valiant effort between the sticks whilst the midfield was made up of Wood, Coventry, Daughtry and Pearson – operating as a makeshift winger. Dalman and Armstrong finally got the chance to team up as a two-man strike force against a side Dalman had plenty of joy against earlier in the season.

The game was fractured to begin with, neither side really carving out an opportunity, it seemed the unexpected heat was perhaps having an effect on the quality of the football on display. The first real highlight came as result of some interesting refereeing after a coming together between Hutchings and the Putney striker. Whilst a coming together was clear, Hutchings insisted there was no intent and also no foul, the referee disagreed however and as the incident occurred in the Crab’s box it seemed a harsh penalty was about to be rewarded.

Sensationally and also luckily for The Crabs, the referee awarded a free kick a few yards outside the box. The resulting free kick didn’t trouble the Crabs but it was a let off, Hutchings even admitted to the referee that the collision occurred in the box to which the ref shrugged his shoulders perhaps slightly embarrassed by his mishap.

The bald headed assassin was at again for Putney, as he did in the reverse fixture, Pilkington controlled the game. Whilst he spent a lot of the last game moaning, this week he was letting his football do the talking, drawing comparison to Anthony Pilkington rather than his lookalike Karl. Thankfully Putney were struggling to create chances as much as East Dulwich and the game was unsurprisingly a stalemate at half time. Pearson had hit the woodwork with a cross/head at goal and Taylor burst through only to be smothered by the keeper but the Pacers’ keeper had rarely been tested.

The Pacers began the second half with a higher tempo as The Crabs came out the blocks in their usual sluggish manner. Garvin and Hutchings were equal to everything thrown at them though as the pairing showed why they are one of the best centre back partnerships in the league. That being said the Pacers were tidy at the back too and based on their performance it is not unrealistic to suggest that they should be higher up the table.

As the second half dragged on The Crabs did begin to create some clear-cut chances. Armstrong and Dalman worked tirelessly up top on a day where the game seemed destined to end 0-0. Dalman found himself one on one on a couple of occasions but the diminutive Pacers keeper somehow made himself big and blocked the efforts with his feet. Pearson also saw an effort brilliantly saved by the little keeper who was making a strong case for man of the match.

Martin made a couple of changes down the right hand side, bringing himself and Dewji on for Wood and Gibson as The Crabs looked to bring some fresh legs into the fray. The fresh legs of Dewji were certainly felt by the Pacers left-winger as the veteran clattered the Pacer from behind. If the lad didn’t know he was in a game by the hour mark, he certainly did after that. Looking slightly aggrieved the winger picked himself back up and shot a menacing glare at the substitute. The other substitute John Martin had an effort down the other end. The winger for the day hit it on the volley only to see the ball bounce wide of the mark.

As the game went on both sides became increasingly nervous but the same winger who had been sent tumbling by Dewji was to be Putney’s hero as he sent The Crab’s hopes of a point tumbling with a wonderful late goal. The left-winger picked the ball up, cut inside and smashed the ball past Dave and into the far corner of the goal.

The goal came a little too late in the game for The Crabs to stage any sort of comeback and it ended 1-0 to Putney Pacers. There was a familiar dejected atmosphere within the Crabs camp but the blow was cushioned by the great hospitality of the Putney lads who invited The Crabs back to the Oktoberfest Pub for some drinks and free grub. The way The Crabs have performed in the latter stages of the season they definitely have some food for thought going into their huge fixture with Wandsworth. Whilst the food was nice, all the Crabs could taste were sour grapes and humble pie as they dug into nachos and pizza.