Dulwich Hamlet edge it in as Rocks cracked in top of the table clash
It has been a long time coming, victory at Bognor Regis, but at last the wait is over as Dulwich Hamlet cememted top spot with this pulsating 2-3 win.
Bognor Regis Town 2 Dulwich Hamlet 3
Saturday 21st November 2015
Ryman League Premier Division
It was all to play for at the top of the table as Dulwich Hamlet, leading the way, took the trip south to face second placed Bognor Regis at Nyewood Lane. Although the Hamlet had enjoyed the odd win on their trips to the Sussex coast down the years, this was the first time in twelve attempts that Dulwich had returned victorious from their travels to Bognor Regis in a Premier Division fixture!
Conditions down on the South Coast were far from ideal. Not only was it bitterly cold, but a fierce wind was blowing through Nyewood Lane and both teams deserved tremendous credit for making light of the gales, serving up a thrilling contest that provided a wonderful advert for the Ryman Isthmian League.
Dulwich Hamlet clearly had the better of the opening exchanges as Dan Sweeney brought the best out of home custodian Grant Smith before Nyren Clunis lost his footing at the crucial moment following some deft approach play from the men in pink. The Rocks retailed and Dulwich nearly found themselves caught out on the counter but fortunately for them the normally deadly Jason Prior’s first touch let him down. Then, on 27 minutes, Ollie Pearce hit a strong drive from the edge of the box that had Phil Wilson beaten but rattled back off the crossbar for Hamlet’s defence to clear the immediate danger.
However, that relief was short-lived as five minutes later Rhys Murrell-Williamson was caught in possession 20 yards from goal, the ball latched on to by Harvey Whyte. The Bognor fullback let fly with rasping drive, rising on the breeze as it beat the flailing fingertips of Phil Wilson, dipping as it arrowed home into the top corner of the net.
It could, perhaps should, have been the hosts two goals to good when a low cross from Doug Tuck caused problems in the Hamlet defence but Brighton loanee Chike Kandi failed to punish Dulwich as he stabbed his shot wide of the far post.
Dulwich battled their way back into the game as halftime approached and on 38 struck back with a deserved equaliser. Rhys Murrell-Williamson was set free to motor off down the left, his cross low behind the Rocks’ defence expertly tucked away by Nyren Clunis haring in at the back of the box. With halftime almost upon the teams, Ryan Moss was but a whisker away from opening his Dulwich scoring account as he went close with a smart shot on the turn.
Ryan Moss would not have to wait too long to rectify that missed opportunity. Four minutes after the restart, Dulwich Hamlet struck once more to go 2-1 up on the afternoon. Dan Sweeney did well on the left, delivering a low cross down the corridor of uncertainty with the outside of his boot. Attacking at the back stick, Ryan Moss stabbed the ball goalwards and though Grant Smith dived on the ball, the assistant referee was well-placed to adjudge, ruling the ball had clearly crossed the line.
Dulwich Hamlet had a let off in the 56th minute when Phil Wilson’s attempt to clear the ball found only Kandi, but as the Hamlet defence backpedalled Kandi could not find a way past the imposing figure of Wilson, succeeding only in clipping the ball back into the ‘keeper’s hands.
The game continued to be played at a frantic pace, ebbing and flowing, until midway through the half when Dulwich extended their lead with goal number three. Playing catch-me-if-you-can with the full back, Nyren Clunis went into overdrive with a fleet of foot run down the right, the winger’s low cross in the area swept home at the back of the box by Rhys Murrell-Williamson.
Yet Bognor refused to be beaten and, on 77 minutes, reduced the deficit to a single goal once more. Getting on the end of a deep cross at the back of the six-yard box, Prior was splendidly denied by Phil Wilson’s save but it counted for naught as Snorre Nilsen rattled home the loose ball to make it 2-3.
The goal gave the Rocks’ renewed vigour with the Dulwich defence coming under heavy bombardment as the home team sought to level the contest. Pearce drove a low shot fractionally wide of the upright, whilst Phil Wilson saved well from the tireless Nilsen. However, the storm was weathered and last word almost went the way of the Hamlet as they finished the game back on the attack. A clumsy foul on Damian Scannell gave Dean McDonald to try his luck with a free kick from the edge of the area but it was comfortably clasped by Smith. This proved the last of the goalmouth action, the final whistle the cue for fans and players alike to party on, the Rocks' Indian Sign over the Hamlet at Nyewood Lane at last lifted.
Bognor Regis Town: Grant Smith; Harvey Whyte; James Crane; Doug Tuck (Alfie Rutherford 70); Sami El-Abd; Craig Robson; Ollie Pearce; Snorre Nilsen; Jason Prior; Chike Kandi; Chad Field
Subs not used: Stuart Green; Daryl Wollers; Dan Beck; Lewis Boughton
Dulwich Hamlet: Phil Wilson; Osei Sankofa; Jordan Brown; Danny Waldren; Matt Drage; Ethan Pinnock; Nyren Clunis; Ashley Carew (Dean McDonald 78); Ryan Moss (Jack Dixon 71); Dan Sweeney; Rhys Murrell-Williamson (Damian Scannell 78)
Subs not used: Albert Jarrett; Mitchell Nelson
Bognor Regis Town: Harvey Whyte (32); Snorre Nilsen (77)
Dulwich Hamlet: Nyren Clunis (38); Ryan Moss (49); Rhys Murrell-Williamson (67)