THE WIZARD OF ÖZ HEADS HAMLET THROUGH IN THE LEAGUE CUP
Dulwich fightback to vanquish Eastbourne on the road
The now-sponsorless Isthmian League Cup has sent Dulwich on some long treks in recent seasons. Trips into darkest Essex to meet such as Concord of Canvey Island and far-flung Heybridge Swifts, forgotten by the railways. Up as far as Lowestoft almost on the farthest eastern extremity of these isles. On Wednesday night, it sent them down into soggy Sussex, the holidaymakers long departed Eastbourne wind lashed piers and promenades, its bandstand silent until the trippers come once more.
Back at the Saffrons, both managers dipped into their squad for this unloved competition. Hometown boss Danny Bloor made a raft of changes following his side’s narrow win over rock bottom over Tooting at the weekend, resting key names including Danny Curd and Matt Crabb whilst using the contest to test the fitness of a number of players returning from the treatment table. Gavin Rose too had been busy shuffling his squad with a trio of new faces in his line-up, handing a starting debut to midfielder Jide Ogunbote, a contemporary of Peter Adeniyi’s at Eastleigh, whilst fellow neophytes Lamar Hurley and Danny Stenning, late of West Ham and Chelsea respectively, had to bide their time on the bench.
Additionally there came the welcome return of Frankie Sawyer to the vanguard, the striker dragging himself up from his sickbed, though one could not tell it from the way he zipped about the pitch. Within the first few minutes he was testing home’ keeper, Greg Nessling, the custodian called into rapid action and tipping Sawyer’s stinging drive round the upright.
Hamlet’s hopes took a hit after 12 minutes as centre half Tony Sinclair was forced to limp out of the game, Rose bringing on Nyren Clunis and swiftly rejigging his back four as Josh Turner slipped seamlessly back into his regular central role from right back. Apart from an almost fatal slip in defence that Matt Geard failed to punish midway through the half, his shot on the turn sailing harmlessly over the crossbar, the opposition had few meaningful attempts. They are choked, and bring no fruit to perfection. Dulwich held the whip hand throughout the first half but could not convert that domination into goals.
Just past the half hour mark, Dulwich squandered missed the best chance of the night. Clunis, dancing his way down the flank, flung over a deep cross that found Sawyer attacking the back stick but he could not direct his header inside the upright. The Hamlet went even closer five minutes later, Rose rolling the years with some nifty footwork inside the area that had the home defence bamboozled before slipping the ball inside to Adeniyi but his shot struck the outside of the post.
Eastbourne came out more determined in the second half, threatening early before taking the lead with a hotly disputed penalty. Alex Howell had already gone close with a full-length diving header before some hare-brained defending saw the ball ping about the Dulwich six-yard box before James Tedder pounced upon it. As he did Howells stumbling over the keeper’s gloves and the referee, probably keen to avoid a stalemate and a late return to his abode, peeped for a penalty. Strangely, the supposed culprit, Mr Tedder, was not even cautioned for his alleged misdemeanour bag in front of his goal. Geard did his duty deftly drilling the ball high into the top corner of the net.
However Dulwich refused to lie down and fought back to level the tie with in ten minutes. Erhun Öztümer’s visionary pass took out a leaden footed Eastbourne defence caught napping, the ball nimbly chesting the ball down on his favoured foot and slamming an unstoppable drive past the onrushing Nessling.
The goal gave Hamlet just the impetus they needed and though Nessling pulled off a string of fine saves to deny first Ellis Green, then Clunis before thwarting Adeniyi, that killer goal that would not denied Dulwich was not far off. With less than ten minutes remaining and penalties looming, it duly arrived from the most unlikely of sources, the head of Öztümer. the smallest player on the pitch must have slipped under the radar of a dithering defence as he darted in to to dispatch an 87th minute winner, meeting Green’s pitch perfect cross with a fine header that squeezed in between a diving Nessling and the near post.
Eastbourne Town: 1 Greg Nessling; 2 Mark Pulling, 3 Dan Rogers, 4 John Lansdale, 5 Nick Fogden (Capt.), 6 Steve Elliott, 7 Sam Crabb, 8 David O’Callaghan, 9 Alex Howell, 10 Matt Geard, 11 Will Berry.
Subs used - 12 Kenny Pogue (for Fogden 46), 14 Harry Clarke (for Howell 83),
16 Joe Summerbell (for Elliott 46). Subs not used - 15 James Hobbs, 17 Ollie Nichols.
Yellow Card - None Red Cards - None.
Dulwich Hamlet: 1 James Tedder; 2 Josh Turner, 3 Kershaney Samuels, 4 Peter Adeniyi (Capt.), 5 Lewis Gonsalves, 6 Tony Sinclair, 7 Jide Ogunbote, 8 Gavin Rose, 9 Frankie Sawyer, 10 Erhun Öztümer, 11 Ryan James.
Subs used - 12 Ellis Green (for Sawyer 68), 14 Nyren Clunis (for Sinclair 12), 16 Lamar Hurley (for Samuels 46).
Subs not used - 15 Danny Stenning, 17 Dominic Weston.
Yellow Card - Hurley. Red Cards - None.
Referee - Matthew Goldsmith
Assistant Referees - Aji Ajibola, Valentine Anekwe