Dark clouds over Dulwich Hamlet

football ground

Another home defeat saw Dulwich drop to 10th. Could this be the final nail in the promotion coffin? Probably, says Ollie Goodwin

After a lacklustre few weeks for Hamlet another bad display finished off any remaining hopes they had of promotion as an Oxford City side rolled them over in front of a packed Champion Hill. With no wins in seven, things seem rather gloomy for the rabble from South London.

The game began with fans basking in Tuscan sun, but the weather changed and the foreboding clouds were a bad sign for the home side.

Dulwich’s home form has played a huge part in their promotion capitulation, so it was a vital game if they had any late season hopes to get themselves going.

With the 3-4-3 formation bringing the home side a lot of early season success, manager Gavin Rose once again opted for this tactic.

Dulwich enjoyed early possession through Higgs, noticeably involved for the home side keeping things ticking over. Rinnie Vint should have opened the scoring for Dulwich but could only hit his volley straight at Dudzinski in the Oxford net.

By the midway point Dulwich were enjoying slightly more possession. However, on the counter Oxford were lightning and looking very, very dangerous and more likely to score. 

It’s been a lack of goals that has hampered Hamlet of late, lots of good looking build up, but no finish; all bark but little bite.

Apart from Darren McQueen’s best efforts, there wasn’t much in the final third, with little service to striker Danny Mills. McQueen had a great chance to put the home side ahead, but lingered on the ball too long and danger was averted by City boots. 

As the second half tailed off, Oxford missed another golden opportunity through Joe Iaciofano. However, Oxford were by now looking like the side far more likely to score – it was only a matter of time.

When the visitors started getting the ball moving, attacking with intent, purpose and a will to score, they just looked on a different level. As the second half began, it seemed whatever was said by manager Justin Merrit, was having the desired effect. 

QPR loanee Hamzad Kargbo had a stand-out second half for the visiting side, showing his class.

Along with Joe Iaciofano, the two front men looked to stretch Dulwich at every possible opportunity, to good effect, twisting, turning and making passes and space for the players around them. Dulwich started dropping deeper and deeper. Then the blow finally arrived. 

Just after the hour mark City’s number 10, Zac McEachran, was given time and space on the edge of the box. Hamlet defenders seemed to drop off covering forward runs and he gladly accepted the extra yards into the edge of Hamlet’s penalty area before a cool low finish into the corner, leaving Grainger wrong footed and rooted in the middle of the net. 

Two minutes later the visitors’ lead was doubled and the game was pretty much finished.

Nana Owusu broke clear and slid in Iaciofano, who finished.

Dulwich are yet to come from behind this season to win and getting two looked an almost impossible task, especially with Oxford’s tails up. 

It could have been more if it hadn’t been for Ronnie Vint’s vital blocks late on, but things were pretty much dusted by this point and the 3,334 fans started heading for the bars dotted around Champion Hill.

Hamlet now sit tenth, the lowest they’ve been since the early season. They go to fourth place Ebbsfleet next on Friday, in desperate need of something to stop the current rot.