Dulwich Hamlet Football Club vs Harrow Borough
Saturday 25th January, Champion Hill Stadium, 3pm kick-off
Despite the presence of the experienced Dave Anderson in the dugout and rich mixture of experience and youth on the field, the Borough have failed to impact on the Ryman Premier Division in the manner that their management, fans and backers might have expected. After a poor start to the season that saw Harrow tae until their seventh game of the season, on the road to Leiston, to register their premiere victory, they faced a Dulwich side off to a flyer. The odds might have been against the hosts at Earlsmead that early September day but with the Hamlet suffering a cataclysmic off day Boro’ made it back to back wins after falling behind to Nyren Clunis 8th minute goal thanks to goals from Shaun Lucien, Jordan Berry and substitute Marcel Barrington.
However hopes of a red revival were stillborn as Harrow registered just one more win that month that a tight 2-1 victory away to struggling Carshalton Athletic, whilst also being dumped out of the FA Cup in a replay at Middlesex neighbours North Greenford United. A bright point of sorts though came in a manic game at Maidstone as Harrow battled their way back from 4-1 two minutes into the second half to level at 4-4 with eleven minutes to go, hanging on for a well-deserved draw despite some late Stones pressure.
With opponents tied up in FA Cup action October saw just one league game that a 2-0 defeat, that away to Wingate and Finchley. With a ten-day break manager Dave Anderson got busy in the transfer market bringing former Brentford striker Calum Willock, under a gentleman’s agreement to last until at least the January transfer window. Anderson expressed the hope Willock will bring the nous and experience he had expected to get from another former league striker, the much-travelled Leroy Griffiths, who arrived at Earlsmead during the loose season, only to disappear again a few weeks later after a null return. Former Tottenham youngster Ajet Shehu and winger Louis Montoya-Ospina joined Willock in new batch. Both Willock and Montoya-Ospina went straight into the starting line-up for a London Senior Cup trip to Spartan South Midlands Football League side Hanwell Town, ironically with a trip to Dulwich Hamlet, conquerors of Hendon the night before, the prize on offer.
It was to a debut that neither would forget in a hurry as early promise and a Shane Lucien goal to give Harrow the lead after 20 minutes evaporated in the dank West London air. Five goals and missed penalty later there was dancing in the streets of Hanwell as the hosts recorded yet another famous victory over loftier opposition in this venerable competition. Many Dulwich fans may not need reminding of past victims of the men from Perivale. A few days later Harrow’s involvement in the FA competitions ended running without a penny of prize money banked. However, their exit from the Trophy was in marked contrast to that Hanwell surrender a month ago: only losing out to to a Kershaney Samuels’ wonder goal two minutes into stoppage time. A modicum of relief came at the end of the month as the long Tuesday night trip to Soham Town Rangers in the Robert Dyas Cup saw the Borough triumph in fine style 4-1.
With a 4-2 win at outwardly doomed Cray Wanderers to kick off November, there seemed new a new buzz about the club. A well-earned draw away to Hampton and Richmond Borough was followed by arguably one of the shocks of the seasons, winning 4-2 at highflying AFC Hornchurch. Digging deep into forgotten reserves of courage and git, a Harrow side including former Hamlet centre half Michael Chambers, on loan from Crystal Palace refused to shirk the challenge when the Urchins fought back to level after going two behind. Goals from substitutes Danny Leech and Simeon Akinola in space of a couple of minutes cemented an unlikely triumph.
Yet football always has its yin and its yang and, with Thamesmead Town at home next on the agenda, Borough must have licked their lips at the thought of building on that victory. However, fortune eluded them as the Town took advantage of their hosts’ generosity to register a much-needed 2-1 win.
The Robert Dyas Cup remained a beacon of hope amid the gloom, the Harrow players winning major brownie points (if not league ones) with a penalty shootout win away to their local nemeses, Wealdstone. However league form was in freefall and, after a scoreless draw at home to Bognor Regis, lost their next three league games on the spin, away to Grays Athletic (0-2) and at home to both Bury Town (0-2 and the Met Police (1-2) before stopping the rot thanks to Shaun Lucien’s late double that rescued a point away to Kingstonian, a result all the more remarkable given that Borough had been reduced to ten men after half an hour with the dismissal of skipper Danny Leech.
On the back of that result the turn of the year brought a turn of fortune with team unbeaten since the New Year thanks to 1-1 draws home and away to Lowestoft Town and Lewes respectively, sandwiching progression to the quarter finals of the Robert Dyas with a 3-0 win at the Met Police. Despite missing Akinola with a hamstring injury picked up in the Lewes draw, Harrow finally got back to winning ways on Tuesday night with a far from convincing win over Carshalton Athletic, a game that seemed to take its toll on the Borough squad with several players on the sick list. Akinola is not the only one whose fitness Anderson is sweating on ahead of Saturday’s action with the likes of Rob Wolleaston and Anthony Maissiat (hamstring) also in a race to be fit, while Michael Peacock, Adam Louth, and Shaun Lucien all suffered knocks in the win over the Robins.
It is one win each in terms of games between Borough and Hamlet so far this season with Anderson’s men winning the reverse league fixture, but subsequently going out of the FA Trophy to a last minute winner at Dulwich.
Borough’s unconvincing victory over Carshalton ended a seven-game winless run in the league for the men of Earlsmead, but Anderson is not convinced Tuesday’s showing will have any bearing on the outcome this weekend.
Speaking to the Harrow Observer Anderson noted that, “Dulwich will be a totally different proposition to tonight. It will be a totally different game-plan where our shape will be completely changed.”
This afternoon’s game kicks-off at 3.00 pm at Champion Hill Stadium, Edgar Kail Way, East Dulwich, London SE22 8BD.
The turnstiles will be open from 12.45pm with refreshment facilities available in the ground for early arrivals. As a healthy crowd is expected, why not avoid the rush late and relax. Before the game why not enjoy a drink or snack in our cosy clubhouse with live sport on the big screens, conveniently situated just a short walk from the turnstiles?
- £10 for Adults
- £4 for Concessions (Seniors – 60+, Under 18s, Unemployed (UB40, Full Time Students and Members of the Armed Forces and Blue Light Services. PLEASE present valid ID)
- Under 12s FREE accompanied by a paying adult.
Correct change would be appreciated in order to speed admission. Many thanks!