The Metropolitan Police got out of jail with a 92nd minute penalty as they held Dulwich Hamlet to a 3-3 draw on a frost-bitten night at Champion Hill.
The result ended a four-match winning run for Gavin Rose’s side and it was Roman Michael-Percil – a Dulwich player at the start of the season – who was the Hamlet’s tormentor-in-chief, winning and scoring the decisive spot kick and providing another assist on the night.
Dulwich dominated possession in front of the crowd of 725, but were made to pay for some criminal defending and not converting more of their chances.
Dumebi Dumaka opened the scoring after 23 minutes and two minutes later it was 2-0 when Nathan Green – liberated as a wingback in Rose’s 3-4-3 formation – broke free from the shackles of the Met defence to smash the ball past Nathan Baxter for his fourth goal of the season.
On his return to Champion Hill, Michael-Percil’s decisive role in the narrative was almost inevitable. The diminutive winger jinked into the box and drilled the ball across goal for striker Jake Reid to tap in at the far post before half-time – the Met’s equaliser coming on the hour mark when naive defending allowed Reid time and space to scythe a shot into the bottom-right corner of Preston Edwards’ goal.
Dulwich’s response was almost immediate when Vas Karagiannis brought the ball down and arced a sweet shot into the top-right corner to restore the lead, but ultimately the script was written as the cops turned robbers to nick a point.
In the second minute of injury time at the end of the match, Michael-Percil got in behind the otherwise impressive Nathan Green who brought down his former teammate in the box. The ex-Dulwich man stepped up himself to rifle the spot kick off the underside of the bar and into the back of the net.
“We should have won comfortably,” said Rose, reflecting on the injustice of the result. “We were susceptible to the counter attack and with the experienced players we have we should have controlled the game. That’s two vital points dropped at home.”
After a chequered start to the season, Dulwich have now won nine and lost only one of their previous 12 games in all competitions. Heading into the festive period, Rose’s side sit fifth in the Ryman Premier Division and remain hopeful of securing automatic promotion having missed out in the playoffs in the previous two seasons.
Loan signings Dumaka and Karagiannis from Maidstone United have strengthened the existing squad in recent weeks. Former Crystal Palace striker Dumaka has provided a focal point in attack with five goals in 10 games, while Karagiannis has contributed five goals and two assists in eight appearances.
The club’s standout performer so far this season has, however, been homegrown talent Nyren Clunis. The 24-year-old winger has consistently terrorised defences with his pace and guile, recently slotting seamlessly into a foraging wingback role.