Sunday 19th September
at Coldharbour Sportsground, Mottingham
Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' 6, The Wanderers 5
Rather than their usual fare, Dulwich began the competitive season with the visit of more exotic opposition. Facing them at Coldharbour Sports, Mottingham was none other than a derivative from Wanderers FC. This club won the first ever FA Cup in 1872 and a further four cups through to 1878. Reformed last year they currently have numerous matches lined up for 2010 and look to raise money for UNICEF UK . Though in truth there is no connection at all between the old Wanderers & the new, more a 'name of convenience' to help their charity fundraising profile,
In a strange turn of events it was Dulwich that for once had a numerical advantage, with Wanderers only having 7 players available, but bizarrely providing a referee. Despite our own squad being depleted, what with the usual withdrawals and complete no-shows. We agreed to lend 2 players to Wanderers to enable the game to commence, albeit a 9 a side match. On this note a massive thanks to both Mick & Paul who agreed to the switch.
After deciding to play 3-5-1, Dulwich began brightly with some good passing and attacking down the left. Despite this it was Wanderers who took the lead after 8 minutes when a Hamlet goal kick was knocked straight back through the middle and the Wanderers player drilled a shot past the diving goalie.
Again Hamlet pressurised Wanderers with crosses, passes and shots beginning to fly in from both wings. They were finally rewarded with a penalty, given after a ball struck the defenders out-stretched hand. Harsh? Not according to the view from the other goal. Ian Gannon confidently placed the ball, stepped up and swept it to his left and into the side netting. 1-1 after a quarter of an hour
Thus the pattern for the rest of the half was set. Dulwich continued having thbauof the play but fell behind to a well-worked goal. On 35 minutes The Wanderers moved the ball down the right and crossed for a player to stab home from 10 yards. Dulwich again quickly fought back, although somewhat fortunately this time. A pass from Robbie McClintock, which was intended for Steve Thorn, was over-hit. Gannon managed to check his run, stay onside and was able to carry the ball unopposed into the penalty area before burying his finish.
Wanderers ended the half with a period of sustained pressure. A shot at the near post was tipped behind low down before being headed clear by Steve Rickerby from the subsequent corner. Try as they might the Hamlet could not hold out until half time. The Wanderers number 10 produced a 20-yard dazzling run past 4-5 players and managed to clip the ball over Matt Hammond with a deft finish.
A quick tactical discussion before Mick appeared meant that hopefully the Wanderers would remain unaware of any changes until it was to late. Mishi Morath swooped wings in midfield to allow Robbie more freedom in attacking from defence. The second half began with Dulwich now kicking into the wind. Not noticing it before I was surprised by it’s strength and now realised why so many of our passes were “over-hit” in the first half.
Despite trailing 3-2, Dulwich stepped up the play with both Phil Doyle and Chas harassing the Wanderers midfield. Ian dropped back and began releasing numerous long passes over the top for Hamlet players to run onto. Twice in quick succession this ploy worked with Steve Thorn being the lucky recipient. His second goal was slightly comical with goalie and centre half colliding, allowing Steve an open goal, a situation the Rabblers can relate too.
With Dulwich now leading 4-3 and the wind in our favour we began to feel confident. However Wanderers did their utmost to get back into the game. With a neat move, which resulted in their best player (No. 10), snatching a shot from about 10 yards. This drew a strong save from the Hamlet keeper, which was then duly cleared by John Tennison. Almost immediately the ball was moved swiftly up-field where Thorn completed his hatrick.
Wanderers pressed for further goals, and as expected they found them with the now tireless “10” continuing to torment the Hamlet players. A move from out of the left wing found him with an acute angle that he finished with a side foot home.
With 20 minutes remaining Gannon then decided to unleash a barrage of highly speculative shots from varying distances near the left touchline. Amazingly after a near miss and 2 high wide and handsome efforts he still had enough time to line up a forth shot – which impressively sailed over the keeper and into the back of the net. 6-4, 2 hatricks & game over…!
Due to prior commitments, Ian had to leave and Dulwich played the final 15 minutes a man down. The Hamlet reorganised and Wanderers sensed that the scoring wasn’t over. A penalty shout was turned down and a succession of corners finally ended with a towering header clipping the top of the bar. They finally broke the hearts of the Dulwich rearguard when a shot slipped past a block tackle and dive a trickled in down past the post.
At this point it seemed likely that the honours would be shared, however Dulwich managed to dig deep and cover huge amounts of ground to hang on for a morale boosting victory.
A massive thanks is to be extended to Wanderers for not just playing the game but doing so with the correct attitude. Ideally it would be nice to have another match against this opposition albeit with a full complement of players from both teams.
Can I also take the opportunity to remind all players that the Supporters team isn’t just for tours; it’s for an entire season!
Dulwich Hamlet team:
Andy “Chas” Chaney
Report kindly supplied by MATT HAMMOND
Our visitors have their own website, & here is their report of the match:
"Prior to kick-off, this match looked like being one of Wanderers’ most disastrous endeavours. The initial squad of 14 eager and fit players quickly diminished into just 7. With pending childbirth, several varied injuries, motorcycle repairs and family commitments, Wanderers took to the field with no goalkeeper or full backs and just one striker.
Fortunately, the Rabblers took pity on Wanderers and donated two of their players - P Verrico and M O’Shaughnessy - to even up the sides, resulting in a 9-a-side match played on a full-size, astroturf pitch for 70 minutes.
ME Wilson volunteered to stand between the posts at kick-off and, despite the numerical issues, Wanderers looked impressive in possession. R Goodall, JO Harvey and C Pulger, who was making his debut, put in a stunning display of athleticism and control. Knocking the ball between them, and using G Bird as a pivot, the team managed to engineer a break away on the left on several occasions.
With barely fifteen minutes on the clock, C Pulger received a delightful square ball and side-footed it into the far post with composure. However, despite some excellent direct play, offering a great deal of space to Harvey and Pulger, Dulwich countered well, with their own dynamic midfield. Their danger man, I Gannon, managed to drag the Wanderers defence out of position - however, the stiff wind and some fortunate goalkeeping kept him out. Unfortunately, H Elabaire’s debut, which had begun so promisingly, started to unravel.
A freakish handball in the penalty area allowed Dulwich to draw level with a 12-yard tap-in. Undaunted, Wanderers pressed on again and Goodall scored from outside the penalty area with a right foot shot into the bottom corner. The Rabblers came right back and a simple one-two, dissecting Verrico and Elabaire, enabled Gannon to evade C McKenzie and drill the ball into the left hand side of the goal. Verrico, once of Dulwich Hamlet proper, should be delighted with his showing - at 63 years old he showed many of our players that his enthusiasm for the game was as great as it ever was.
At half-time, both sides might have felt that they could have gone in with a clear advantage. Sadly, Wanderers were unprepared for the restart.
Goodall scored his second and gave the away side the lead but Dulwich’s effort would soon pay off. Firstly, a period of attacking play yielded a corner which resulted in a lovely half-volley from the edge of the box that cannoned in off of the inside of the post. Secondly, Wilson’s rushing out, to attempt to close the gap between the penalty area and the defence, was undone by a 50:50 ball, which the attacker got to first. Goodall stemmed the tide with an absolutely masterful example of dribbling, beating four Hamlet players before slotting the ball home for his thoroughly well-deserved hat-trick.
His hard work was practically undone moments later. A communication breakdown between Wilson and Elabaire ended with the two limping away from a collision and Elabaire scoring a disappointing and calamitous own goal. But Wanderers were not for quitting; a well-worked corner resulted in Harvey hitting the crossbar with a rocket-like, towering header.
Harvey generously agreed to spend some time in goal, having only recently come back from his honeymoon and needing a rest. He could do nothing as Dulwich scored a beautiful, long-range chip from the left side of the box which arced into the far corner. The right-hand side of defence had been calmly marshaled by O’Shaughnessy until then, and it took a neat interchange to get past him.
With legs tiring and just minutes left on the clock, Wanderers lifted their game and managed to counter-attack. From Bird’s corner, Wilson scuffed the ball into the far post. Bird, Goodall and Wilson all had chances to draw Wanderers level but, despite three great opportunities, neither could manage to keep their efforts on target in positions that they would ordinarily have managed to test the opposition goalkeeper.
In the end, Wanderers will feel that, given the circumstances, they should have managed to kill the game off - however, Dulwich proved that they should not be underestimated and that their dedication to the game ensured they were always in contention for a good result."
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