Simeon Wright at Champion Hill
A Danny Mills hat-trick secured Dulwich Hamlet a first win in five league game, as they eventually saw off Chelmsford City 5-3 in a mistake-ridden game at Champion Hill last Saturday.
After falling behind in the match, Dulwich then had their 3-1 second-half lead pegged back, before Mills stole the show in the final ten minutes.
The drama began in the tenth minute when Jeffrey Monakana struck the post from the penalty spot, after Clarets player-manager Robbie Simpson had wrestled Mills to the ground after the striker had let the ball run through his legs.
Experienced EFL journeyman Simpson is in temporary charge at Chelmsford, following Rod Stringer’s departure from the Essex club last week.
Five minutes later, Hamlet keeper Charlie Grainger could only punch Billy Knott’s free-kick as far as Chris Whelpdale, who fired through on-loan Millwall defender Jesse Debrah on the line. Debrah, prior to kick-off, had been confirmed a Dulwich Hamlet player for the remainder of the season.
The lead lasted fifteen minutes before Kieran Monlouis marked his return from a loan spell at Margate with a goal, reacting from close range to Mills’ header against the crossbar.
The striker then claimed his first of three soon after, heading home full-back Ben Chapman’s left-footed corner. Chapman, a natural right-footer, demonstrated impressive adeptness with both feet by swinging set-pieces in from either side throughout.
Monakana had atoned for the penalty with the cross creating Monlouis’ goal, and delivered again early in the second-half to pick out prolific centre-half Christian Smith to make it 3-1.
But visiting forward Sam Higgins hit back twice in quick succession, first pouncing on possibly-impeded Grainger’s mishandling of a lofted free-kick, then heading in Whelpdale’s near-post cross.
Dulwich manager Gavin Rose was visibly incensed by the collapse, while the 2,628 Champion Hill faithful were stunned.
But as the game approached the 80th minute the victory charge began, and it was Mills on the line to poke in captain David Ihaja’s effort across goal.
Hamlet’s leading goal-scorer then claimed the match ball in injury-time, as he rounded Chelmsford keeper Jack West-Astuti having been gifted the ball by Whelpdale.
Whelpdale, another seasoned pro and once of AFC Wimbledon, responded with a swerving shot at the goal, but Grainger was equal to it, concluding the game with its best save.
The win lifts Dulwich up to fourteenth in the National League South table, significantly seven points clear of Chippenham Town in the relegation zone, who were beaten on Saturday.