There were incredible scenes at Champion Hill tonight as Dulwich Hamlet crushed Braintree Town – a team who play two divisions above them – by five goals to two in the FA Trophy.
Dulwich drew away at Braintree on Saturday and there were signs that they could beat their higher league opposition, but no one expected such an emphatic victory.
The win puts them through to the quarter finals of the Cup – equalling their best ever run in the competition in 1979/80- where they face National League team Macclesfield Town.
We’re still buzzing from the win, so we suggest you head off to the Hamlet forum for all the chat about this incredible win. For now, here’s some photos to savour:
Possibly one of the craziest own goals we've ever seen. Just watch👀
— Dulwich Hamlet FC (@DulwichHamletFC) February 8, 2017
On the Hamlet forum, PP added his report:
Great win, with Hamlet perhaps getting the lucky breaks that eluded us in the first match. I feel it also helped that we had a referee who was much more vigilant about consistently penalising the sort of minor infringements that Saturday’s ref chose to ignore.
Hamlet conceded a lot of needless free kicks for careless challenges in our own half, as we often do, but Braintree’s big centre backs weren’t able to get away with the sneaky blocking and holding type fouls that they did in the first game.
The number 18 was made to look particularly clumsy in this respect and he gave away a penalty just before the half hour after getting too tight to Tomlin, shielding the ball just inside the box, and bumping him over from behind.
Carew’s penalty kicks always look more convincing when he puts them to the keeper’s left, and this was an especially well executed example, flying high into the corner with the giant keeper sent the wrong way for good measure.
Braintree seemed to have learned some lessons from the first game, pressing us higher up the pitch and forcing us to concede possession with hasty and inaccurate passes at times.
They equalised ten minutes later when a near post corner was neatly headed in by their left back. As in the first game the half time interval came at just the right time for Hamlet with the visitors now on top.
Hamlet made a very sloppy start to the second half, overplaying straight from the kick off, with Edwards forced to concede a corner from a goalbound shot. However a comical own goal within five minutes of the restart put Hamlet back in front.
The keeper raced from his box to reach a through ball just ahead of Sekajja but blasted his clearance directly at his biggest defender and the ball looped crazily back over his head and into the net from 20 yards.
Hamlet’s defence stood form for the next ten minutes under considerable pressure at times, although Green hit the post when a counter attack ended with the ball reaching him beyond the far post.
Then just past the hour mark a superb pass out of our box released Tomlin from just inside his own half and he outpaced a chasing defender through the inside right channel before firing hard and true into the far corner of the net from just inside the box; a considerable demonstration of skill to finish so emphatically without breaking his stride after sprinting flat out for half the length of the pitch.
For the first time Hamlet now appeared real favourites to reach the quarter final with both players and crowd visibly and audibly lifted. With fifteen minutes to go Tomlin again raced away from the halfway line in a repeat of the move that led to his goal only to be desperately felled from behind just outside the box.
The fact that he’d already scored from the same situation perhaps tipped the balance between the defender getting away with a yellow card and being sent off. Braintree were now a man down, and just two minutes later Ming collected the ball in a central position with defenders backing off and teed himself up to unleash a fantastic thirty yard drive into the top corner.
Game over surely? It’s rarely quite that simple with the Hamlet, and after another two minutes a free kick out side was headed home by the scorer of our second goal, but even with just over ten minutes plus stoppage time remaining there was no sign from the visiting players that they still felt they could salvage anything.
They trudged back to their own half clearly resigned to defeat, and in stoppage time our there goal lead was restored when Ming got free on the right and crossed for Erskine to net with a tidy header from six yards out.
Amazing to smash a side two levels higher with so may forwards unavailable: Dumaka & Clunis out injured, Murrell-Williamson & Akinyemi cup-tied. Our bench consisted of a semi-retired player-coach, two youth teamers who’d never appeared in the first team, and a bloke who hadn’t appeared since last season after being plagued with injuries.
Over the two games there was a lack of flair and invention about the Braintree forward line. They didn’t really seem to have anyone with real pace, trickery or imagination to unlock a tight defence in open play and take defenders out of the game.
Whilst you can tell they play at a higher level and are accustomed to facing better sides than we are, and enjoyed far more possession and territory than most sides we face, they look very much like a team set up to negate opponents rather than to take the game to the opposition.
Team (3-4-1-2): Edwards – Weathersotne, Drage, Chambers – Ming, Kargbo, Beaney(c), Green – Carew – Tomlin, Sekajja. Subs: Taylor (for Beaney), Mohamed (for Weatherstone), Erskine (for Tomlin), James, Awokere (not used). Att.860
Admittedly I’ve only been a regular for four seasons or so, but that was certainly the best Hamlet performance I’ve ever seen. Incredibly professional, determined and clinical too, against a side that was strong and well organised (though seemingly lacking in spark and confidence).
I thought every player played out of his skin, but Preston in particular set the tone with some very assured handling of the ball which, I think, gave the defence a lot of confidence. Chambers and Drage were both absolute rocks for us at the back tonight; Beaney must have covered every blade of grass; Sekajja and Sanchez ran them ragged, with the latter scoring a wondergoal; Tomlin looked like he’d somehow gained a yard of pace and was charging right through them. And bloody hell, Jacob Erskine!!
I know teams lift themselves for occasions like this but if we could turn on performances like that in the league we’d be impossible to play against. Either way, the Macclesfield match is gonna be HUGE.
— Bugpowder Dust (@bugpowder_dust) February 7, 2017
Basic stats from the game:
Dulwich Hamlet 5
Ash Carew (penalty)
Manny Parry (og 50′)
Gavin Tomlin (61′)
Sanchez Ming (78′)
Jacob Erskine (90′)
Braintree Town 2
Manny Parry (80′)
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