After seven pre-season games, the Hamlet are back in to competitive action against Braintree Town at Champion Hill.
The home side have impressed with their performances in their latter friendlies, with victories at Farnborough and Hastings United followed up by a resilient and hard-fought draw at Maidstone United a week ago. After one goal in their opening four outings in pre-season, the Hamlet netted eight times in their final three games, with George Porter in particular impressing, scoring once in each of those matches.
In his 22-man squad for the new season, Gavin Rose has retained nine of the squad which finished 10th last season, the highest position in the club's history, with a further 13 new recruits settling into the squad over the last few weeks. Of the new faces, Kalvin Kalala will definitely be missing today following an ACL injury sustained at Farnborough two weeks ago, with the time he faces out still uncertain. James Comley has been battling tendonitis and may find that this game comes too soon, whilst Josh Hill has been back in training again having missed all of pre-season.
Braintree arrive at Champion Hill with a new manager at the helm, as Angelo Harrop takes charge of a competitive game for the first time following Ryan Maxwell's departure at the end of the previous campaign. After a difficult start to the season, which saw the Iron win just one of their first 12 league games, and just three at the halfway point of the season, Maxwell was able to lead his side to 29 points from their remaining 20 games to comfortably avoid the drop by nine points in 17th position, finishing just six points behind the Hamlet.
Unlike Gavin Rose, Harrop has not kept many of last season's squad, with just Alfie Payne, Kyran Clements and Ezra Ikebuasi remaining. Coming in are 15 new faces, including experienced defender John White from Southend, striker Ben Fowkes who was a key part of the Needham Market side which reached the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy, and goalkeeper Jack Sims, who was an important player in Welling's successful bid to avoid relegation last season.
The Iron were one of just two sides, along with Hemel Hempstead, who Dulwich managed to take six points off of last season, with Darren McQueen's goal the difference between the teams when they met at Champion Hill in February. The two most recent home meetings prior to that were both memorable occasions for the Hamlet, as a 6-0 win in January 2020 gave them their record victory in this division, and a 5-2 win in February 2017 saw them advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy when two leagues below Braintree at the time.
Turnstiles will open from 12 o'clock, with the bar open from that time and showing Premier League football before and after the game. There will be two outdoor bars available for fans, sponsored by excellent local brewers Brick Brewery, as well hot and cold beverages being available from Tea Bar. Food can be found in the form of Come and Go Souvlaki, as well as a pie vendor.
Please be aware that bag searches will take place and there is no readmission to the ground. It is card only for payments inside the ground, except when buying programmes or 50/50 tickets. If you are collecting a hard copy of your season ticket then please make your way to the main reception to receive.
If you have not yet bought tickets, visit https://app.fanbaseclub.com/Fan/Tickets/SelectType?fixtureId=1639 or pay at the turnstile, adults cost £12, concessions £5 and U13s are free.
Live commentary will also be available for the game from 2:50pm on Mixlr, and highlights will be on the club's YouTube channel from Monday.