Isthmian League Premier Division Sat 24 February Champion Hill
Dulwich Hamlet
  • Mills (29', 70')
  • Binnom-Williams (45+2')
  • Bonnett-Johnson (45+5')
  • Vasiliou (52')
  • Nwachuku (79')

It was an attack vs attack at Champion Hill on Saturday afternoon as Dulwich came out on top. The Hamlet took control of the first half, a more convincing second half gave Craig Edwards’ side hope, but it wasn’t to be.

The manager made five changes to the team after defeat to Berkhamsted in the Herts Senior Challenge cup. Woody Williamson was welcomed back to the side after being on International Duty with Scotland U19s. The Ambers were also massively boosted with the return of Nnamdi Nwachuku after a spell out with injury. Finlay Tichmarsh and Samuel Kuffour returned to the defence after sitting out on Tuesday. Vas Vasiliou also started after impressing off the bench during the week.

The Ambers changed their approach after a poor run of form. Craig Edwards switched to a 4-4-2 formation with Vasiliou and Ekongo out wide, with Nnamdi Nwachuku and Alfie Pendlebury paired in a front two for the first time.

The first chance of the game fell to Dulwich, Anthony Jeffrey’s effort from range had Woody Williamson worried but it went just past the near post. For the Ambers, Titchmarsh won a free kick in the attacking third, the right-back’s cross found Kuffour at the far post. He headed it down for Granville whose effort at goal was saved by R’avan Constable.

Dulwich went close twice after a quarter of an hour but blocks from Kuffour and McLean kept the score level. It wasn’t just one sided though, a more direct style of football from the Ambers was worrying the Hamlet defence.  Having both Nwachuku and Pendlebury in attack gave Cheshunt more attacking options, especially aerially, with Pendlebury flicking headers on regularly getting up before his marker.

There was a minute of madness just before the half hour mark. Chevron McLean won the ball back in his own half before playing a great ball to put Vas Vasiliou in behind. He got past the onrushing keeper and found Nnamdi Nwachuku in the box, but the Dulwich defence raced back to cover their keeper & his effort was blocked.

It was a nightmare for Cheshunt just moments after missing the chance. Danny Mills gave the home side the lead. Wanadio’s low driven effort was initially saved by Williamson but Danny Mills was the quickest to react to the loose ball & could tap in from just six yards out.

Cheshunt went close to responding as a long throw from Enock Ekongo caused confusion in the Hamlet defence. The ball found its way out to Granville on the edge of the box. His powerful strike looked goal-bound, but it was blocked expertly by the defender before it could trouble the keeper.

Cheshunt went close twice as a cross in from the right from Titchmarsh troubled the keeper. The full backs overhit cross looked like it was going to drop into the back of the net, but it just went across the face of goal. Vas Vasiliou then picked it up on the left just moments later, his driven run towards the box led to a shot on his right foot but it went just wide of the Dulwich goal.

Cheshunt were the side with much of the possession and opportunities towards the end of the half. However, the Hamlet were always looking dangerous on the counter.

The half moved into injury time (three minutes indicated) It was Dulwich that scored the next goal in the second additional minute of  the first half, completely against the run of play.  The Ambers failed to clear their lines & Jerome Binnom-Williams picked up the ball on the edge of the box and hit a low and powerful effort into the bottom left corner. It was completely unsavable for Woody Williamson in the Cheshunt goal.  The Ambers could feel hard done by when Sean Bonnett-Johnson then made it three. After a failed corner routine, the ball fell to the number 19, and he placed the ball past several defenders and into the bottom corner in the sixth minute of additional time.  A half where Dulwich took their chances & Cheshunt had them but didn’t take them.

HT: 3-0

Nathaniel Orafu replaced Enock Ekongo at the break as the Ambers switched back to their more familiar 4-3-3 formation for the second half.

Cheshunt got themselves back into the game just seven minutes into the second half. Orafu’s ball from the midfield found Antonis Vasiliou. The number 7 went on a skilful jinking run, and no one in the home defence could get close to him. He opened his body up for a strike and bent it right into the far top corner to get the Ambers back in the match & create some doubt in the home defence. The Ambers went close again just moments later as Pendlebury’s strike from just inside the box was well held by the Dulwich goalkeeper Constable.

Orafu completely changed the game for the visitors. His runs on and off the ball were causing all sorts of problems for Dulwich despite playing with an injury. He again played a ball through to the forwards, this time for Nwachuku. Unfortunately he couldn’t quite get the ball under enough control to get a meaningful effort at goal.

The hosts went agonisingly close on two occasions with just over 20 minutes to go. Anthony Jeffrey picked up the ball over 30 yards out and smashed one off the crossbar down & out without crossing the line. Danny Mills picked up the rebound, but his effort was saved by Williamson. Then Hamlet then looked like they had made it four for the afternoon but a last-ditch block on the line from the hard working Nwachuku meant Cheshunt had other ideas.

Cheshunt’s hopes of a comeback were dealt a huge blow as Dulwich did make it four in their next attack, . A brilliant ball in from Anthony Jeffrey was whipped in from the left onto the head of the arriving Danny Mills who rose highest and headed a direct & powerful header home.

Orafu continued to be a bright spark, his beautifully chipped ball found Vasiliou in behind, but his effort was saved by the keeper. Moments later Cheshunt did find the back of the net. Vasiliou’s ball found the head of Pendlebury & his header hit the post. The ball came back out into a crowd of players Nwachuku  was quickest to it & his shot hit the inside of the right hand post, ricocheted to the inside of the left hand post &  in, to give his side late hope.

Cheshunt kept pushing but Dulwich and both sides continued to test defences, but the home side were able to hold out for all three points. A disappointing result given the chances created & errors made, but plenty of positives to take into a crucial match v Kingstonian on Wednesday.

FT: Dulwich Hamlet 4-2 Cheshunt.

DULWICH HAMLET: Constable, Braham-Barrett, Chambers, Wanadio, Scott, Mills, Jeffrey, Shokunb,i Binnom-Williams, Bonnett-Johnson, Parry; SUBS: Hatfull, Tarh, Clifton Krasniqi, Shonibare.

CHESHUNT: Williamson, Tichmarsh, McClean, Ekongo, Bates, Kuffour, Vasiliou, Granville, Pendlebury, Nwachuku, Miles; SUBS: Bailey, Noel-Williams, Baugh, Orafu, Nabbad.

Attendance: 2,784

With Thanks to Amy Eve Photography. More Pictures available here