By Ben Henderson
IT WAS a familiar story for Dulwich Hamlet as they were defeated at home against Gloucester City.
As has so often been the case this season, Dulwich played exceptionally well in periods but were undone by a combination of poor finishing and a defensive mistake.
Hamlet’s best chance of the first half came after thirteen minutes. Tanasheh Abrahams sent a wicked cross from the left across the face of goal and Dipo Akinyemi was well-positioned to nod the ball home, but failed to make adequate contact.
However, the Dulwich number 9, left out of the side in recent weeks, seemed determined to atone for his early miss. He held the ball up well throughout the early stages, producing a number of excellent passes, and looked Dulwich’s most dangerous player. Only his finishing let him down.
After 20 minutes the ball broke loose to Dominic Vose on the edge of the box, but the midfielder’s shot was well saved by Matt Yates in the Gloucester goal.
The first half was marred somewhat by an injury to Abrahams. The full-back fell very awkwardly when contesting the ball, and was eventually forced off with Sanchez Ming replacing him in the 35th minute.
Five minutes later, Vose produced the sort of magic that has made him Hamlet’s stand-out performer in recent weeks. Ibrahim Kargbo played the ball to Vose’s feet on the edge of the box. Facing away from goal, the Dulwich number 10 produced an exquisite flick to bisect the Gloucester defence and play in Akinyemi. However, Yates saved the striker’s effort.
In the final seconds of the half, it seemed as if Gloucester would sneak a goal totally against the run of play.
The ball was crossed from the left to midfielder Joe Hanks. His shot from point-blank range appeared goal-bound, but was tipped onto the bar by goalkeeper Preston Edwards. The hosts failed to clear the danger and Hanks had another bite at the cherry. His second shot was saved by Edwards into the path of Joe Parker, who blazed over with the goal gaping.
However, Gloucester did not rue their miss for long as just into the second half Edwards totally missed the ball from a Hanks corner and Gloucester left-back Noah Smerdon headed into the empty net.
In a similar fashion to last week at Bath, Dulwich looked stunned upon conceding and their normally excellent passing faltered.
Fifty minutes in, Gloucester’s Ben Seymour played Parker in on the right side of the box, but Edwards was equal to his shot.
Dulwich soon regained their composure and began to press for an equaliser. Vose sent another beautiful pass through to Nyren Clunis whose cross seemed to strike Matt Williams’ arm in the area. The Rabble screamed for a penalty, but the referee shook his head.
At the other end, Smerdon went close to scoring his second goal. Collecting the ball on the edge of the box from a corner, the left-back blasted towards the top corner, but Edwards was able to tip over.
Dulwich applied real pressure in the last fifteen minutes and unsurprisingly it was through Vose that they created their best opportunities to level. First, he executed a sumptuous nutmeg on the left side of the box and then tried to bend the ball into the far top corner, but he was just off-target.
With five minutes to go, he turned beautifully on the edge of the box and sent a delicious ball to the unmarked Anthony Cook who was in on goal. The attacker attempted to round keeper Yates, who appeared to bring him down. Hamlet fans again wanted a penalty but, once more, the referee and linesman were unmoved, signalling for a goal-kick instead.
In the dying seconds Smerdon came off to boos from the home fans after taking his time getting up from a challenge. However, he won’t mind as his winner earned his side three points.