By Ben Henderson
DULWICH HAMLET travel to the south coast this weekend for their FA Cup tie away to Eastbourne Borough. Both sides will be chasing the juicy carrot of £15,000 prize money and a place in the final qualifying round before the first-round proper.
Eastbourne progressed through the previous round courtesy of a victory over Brantham Athletic. The Sports have been solid in recent weeks with two wins, two draws and one defeat in September. They sit eleventh in National League South, three points ahead of Hamlet.
Dulwich arrived in the third qualifying round following their 3-1 defeat of Tonbridge Angels at Imperial Fields two weeks ago. The Londoners are currently sixteenth in National League South, but have had much to be excited about in recent weeks. Gavin Rose’s side have only suffered defeat once in their last six matches, enjoying four wins in that run including a memorable victory away at table-topping Woking.
They defeated Chippenham Town 2-0 in the league last weekend, thanks to a Dipo Akinyemi (above) double, and it was a team display which pleased Rose.
“It was a really good performance from us against a good team, a hard-working team who’ve done well so far this season,” Rose said. “I felt we controlled the game for long periods. I didn’t feel overly worried. Maybe they had one or two opportunities but I felt we had the lion’s share of the game. The boys worked extremely hard for each other, both individually and collectively. I felt we earned the right to win the game.”
Something has clearly clicked at Dulwich after their poor start to the season. Rose shed light on what has changed.
He said: “We’ve definitely worked harder collectively. We’ve talked about how we need to work off the ball more as a team. We’ve changed our formation back to what we were last season. I also think the mentality of the boys – not wanting to lose a goal – was a lot more evident. Credit to them for that and that’s the mentality we need going forward.”
Some fans may have been surprised to see players such as Anthony Cook and Sanchez Ming on the bench in recent weeks. However, Rose was quick to assert that there are no guaranteed starters in his squad. “To be honest, everyone’s equal, there’s no one bigger than anyone else for me. We pick a team that we think is right for the game. And the key for the players is that when they’re picked they do their job.
“If you’re not playing, when you do get picked you take the opportunity. So anyone can be a big name – for me it’s about picking a team that can go out there and do a job for us.”
Off the pitch, both sides on Saturday have proud reputations as contributors to the wellbeing of their respective communities. Dulwich won the Football Foundation Community Club of the Year Award in 2016 and their community efforts are renowned among south Londoners.
Eastbourne, meanwhile, were the first club in the country to be awarded CIC status (Community Interest Company). In addition, they were voted FA Community Club of the Year (South East) in 2006 and 2008, and the Sussex side continue to involve themselves in community projects.