Dulwich Hamlet bucked a run of three home games without a win to earn a well-deserved victory over Harlow Town on Tuesday night.
While Gavin Rose’s side remain unbeaten on the road this season, their home form has been far less consistent, and prior to kick-off there was a subdued atmosphere among the 750 in attendance – explained either by the patchy results at Champion Hill or the dulcet strains of The Smiths’ emitting from the PA system.
The match saw the home debut of new signing Dumebi Dumaka up front and the number nine should have given his side the lead after two minutes when he headed wide from six yards following a corner from Gavin Tomlin.
As has so often been the case this season, Nyren Clunis was the Hamlet’s best player and the winger came close to giving Dulwich the lead after eight minutes when he broke through on goal only to send his shot high and wide.
Dumaka’s inauspicious start continued when he mis-timed an effort from inside the box, his shot trickling behind him following good work down the right by Sanchez Ming.
When Dulwich’s goal did come Clunis was inevitably at the centre of things. The winger broke down the right using his pace and strength to lose his marker before cutting the ball back across the box for Ibra Sekajja to smash home in the 34th minute.
Whatever Harlow manager Danny Chapman said in the dressing room at half-time seemed to work as his side started the second period much the better.
They almost equalised two minutes after the break when the lively Bamba Ngamb’s shot was cleared off the line by Matt Drage and a period of pressure from the visitors saw Dulwich pinned back in their own half – full-back Syrus Gordon sending a shot over from 18 yards a
nd former Stoke, Hull and Portsmouth centre-back Ibrahima Sonko heading wide from close range.
The warning signs were there for Harlow, however, whenever Clunis got the ball. Good work from the number seven down the right saw him play a square pass for Sekajja who forced a point blank save from Ed Thompson.
Dulwich extended their lead in the 73rd minute when Roman Michael-Percil drew a foul from Harlow winger Jared Small in the box – Ashley Carew stepping up to stroke home the penalty.
Two minutes later it was 3-0 to Dulwich. With Harlow advancing the cavalry in the hope of getting back into the game, a marauding run down the right by Michael-Percil was followed by a pass to Sekajja in the centre whose shot was so completely scuffed it fell for Clunis coming in behind him to slide the ball past Thompson.
There was to be scant consolation for Harlow when in the fourth minute of added time referee Jack Packman awarded a penalty for foul by Matt Drage on Alex Read – the striker dusting himself off to score clinically from the spot.
Speaking after the match, Gavin Rose highlighted the performance of centre-back Michael Chambers.
“The back four were solid and Michael in particular was good. We’ve known him since he was 15 and he has a lot more to give. We will work hard and so will he to enable him to deliver on that potential.
“We started the first half ok and in the opening 20-25 minutes we had some good opportunities, but we got the lead and panicked a bit.
“They [Harlow] did well tactically in the second half, but the guys kept gambling and got their reward.”