Dulwich suffered a setback in their quest for the playoffs as they lost 3-0 to Billericay Town in an ill-tempered affair at Champion Hill.
Their opponents came into the match ninth in the Ryman Premier Division and, since being taken over by local millionaire Glenn Tamplin at the end of last year, the club have invested heavily in new players.
Billericay’s starting 11 included former Fulham and Liverpool full-back Paul Konchesky, and recent signings Vanarama National League South top scorer Jake Robinson and former Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara.
In front of a bumper crowd of 2,805, the Hamlet found themselves two goals down within 20 minutes, both goals coming from lofted balls into the box that Preston Edward might have expected to deal with.
It was 3-0 before half-time when Jake Robinson, a club record signing from Hemel Hempstead, scored on his debut.
Wearing number seven, O’Hara also made an impression on his first appearance for the club, despite a lack of match fitness following his recent spell on reality TV. After an early yellow card, he settled down to dictate the pace of the game from the centre of midfield.
“I was worried the fact that I did Big Brother and with my injuries in the past whether I’d get back,” said O’Hara, 30. “I wasn’t getting a call (from league clubs) and this gives me a chance.”
Edwards in the Dulwich goal went some way to atoning for his earlier indecision as he clawed the ball out of the top right corner to prevent his side going in 4-0 down at the break.
Tempers flared at halftime and O’Hara was led down the tunnel by his teammates while Tamplin was restrained on the touchline.
The ill-feeling continued in the second half with scything tackles from both sides which culminated in Billericay’s Mekhi McLeod receive his marching orders.
Despite their numerical advantage, Dulwich were unable to capitalise with only a disallowed goal to show for their efforts in the second half.
With eight games remaining, Dulwich currently sit one point behind the top five and a place in the playoffs for the third successive season. They do, however, have a number of games in hand on all their nearest rivals.
A quirk of the fixture list means they face Billericay again on Tuesday night.
Dulwich manager Gavin Rose: “It’s a disappointing result. There was a lot of indecision at the back.
“They used the wind assistance really well, but we let it happen.”
Billericay manager Glenn Tamplin: “They’re one of the best teams in the league, so it’s a really good result.
“They’ve got a great bunch of fans – it’s an amazing atmosphere.”