By Ben Henderson
DULWICH HAMLET began their campaign in National League South with a defeat at Welling United.
Hamlet went into the break level and almost took the lead two minutes into the second half but Welling goalkeeper Dan Wilks produced a brilliant save from Ashley Carew’s free-kick.
In the searing heat, the Wings then went in front through Thierry Audel’s 53rd-minute goal before Carew was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Welling’s Jack Jebb added a second in the 67th minute to ensure his side would take all three points.
Hamlet had their first chance in the fifth minute. Carew swung over a corner to find Magnus Okuonghae who rose at the back post, only for his header to be blocked.
Hamlet had the best of the opening exchanges and kept Welling penned in their half for the first 15 minutes.
However, Hamlet’s early pressure didn’t last, though they did hit the post 10 minutes before the break when Wilks’ attempted punch clear came back off his own player.
One of the few bright sparks in the first half was Welling’s Nassim L’Goul who got the better of the Dulwich defence a number of times and produced some audacious showboating towards the end of the half, but without the end product.
Disaster almost struck after 40 minutes when Hamlet’s captain, Okuonghae, slipped in possession allowing Welling in on goal, but the hosts couldn’t take the chance.
Overall, the most notable aspect of the first half was the referee’s eagerness to put players from both sides in the book.
The second half began with a bang as Carew curled a brilliant free kick towards the top corner of Welling’s goal from 25 yards, but Wilks made a superb save.
A moment later, Dulwich number nine Dipo Akinyemi cut inside the defence from the right and smashed a left-foot shot towards goal which was blocked.
Welling responded to the challenge from the sixth-tier newcomers. Their number ten, Jebb, swung in a dangerous cross from the left which Audel directed home.
Disaster then struck for Gavin Rose’s side just before the hour mark. It seemed inevitable that a red card would be shown, given the referee’s willingness to produce yellow cards for innocuous challenges early in the game. However, the official seemed to have little choice but to book Carew for the second time and produce a red card after the midfielder shoved Danny Mills.
The game opened up once Dulwich had been reduced to 10 men.
Hamlet showed admirable resilience following the sending-off setback and showed improvement in the next 10 minutes.
However, their resistance was short-lived. A slick move from Welling on the edge of Dulwich’s box allowed L’Goul the chance to play in Jebb who slotted between Preston Edwards’ legs.
From then on the result was a formality and the game petered out.
Welling goal scorer Audel was awarded man of the match.
Dulwich will leave disappointed that they could not cause Welling more problems. But it was always going to be an uphill struggle following the sending-off.
They will hope for a better showing on Wednesday at home to Thurrock United.