Dulwich Hamlet 2, Thurrock 1
DESPITE being mired in their own troubles, Dulwich Hamlet paid tribute to Thurrock who will fold at the end of the season before and after Saturday’s Bostik Premier clash.
Dulwich, who still have hopes of sneaking the title out of the grasp of big-spending Billericay, didn’t offer any charity during the 90 minutes but a club who have been forced out of their ground and their own future is in doubt, showed real class by giving free admittance to Thurrock fans as their own footballing journey moves towards its conclusion.
Hamlet chairman Liam Hickey gave a lovely speech from the heart about the Fleet and after the game the hosts tweeted: “@ThurrockFC we are sorry about your plight and end of season decision. Therefore even more impressive to see @ThurrockFC players being professional and passionate, even as the light fades on a mighty club that will be greatly missed.”
The game itself, played out in front of a crowd of 1,003 was riveting, with Dulwich striving to make up ground on Billericay and Thurrock’s players determined to see out the season with pride and dignity, no more so than keeper Ben McNamara who turned in a superb display.
Dulwich got off to a slow start and it took a good save from Amadou Tangara to tip a third minute effort from Connor Weston wide of the post. Dulwich’s first effort did not arrive until the seventh minute when Reise Allassani fired wide after Quade Taylor had won the ball and passed forward to him.
Nathan Green should have given Dulwich the lead in the 10th minute when he was set free on the left and he went round the keeper before being crowded out.
However, Hamlet took the lead in the 27th minute after Allassani was brought down to earn a free kick. Gavin Tomlin stepped over the ball and Ashley Carew placed his shot just inside the left hand post with McNamara rooted to the spot.
Within a minute, McNamara had thwarted Nyren Clunis after he had cut inside from the right hand side. Almost immediately, it took good defending from Taylor to thwart the visitors. In the closing stages of the half Allassani was then twice denied by McNamara, as was Tomlin when he tried to chip the keeper.
Having dominated the first half, Dulwich gifted an equaliser to Thurrock in the 47th minute when Nyren Clunis brought down Joel Nouble in the box and Jordan Clark converted from the spot.
After Carew had fired a free kick just wide, it took a terrific double save from Tangara to prevent the visitors going ahead. He first dived to his left to claw out an effort and was then up quick to spread himself to keep out the follow up.
Rickie Hayles headed just too high from a Carew corner, but Thurrock also looked dangerous and Taylor had to cut out a cross from the Dulwich right. It was then the turn of McNamara to thwart Dulwich, clawing out a Carew free kick that seemed destined for the net.
Thurrock continued to look dangerous and Weston saw his effort deflected behind when he was found in space on their left. Hayles then saw his header saved by McNamara, while Tomlin had two efforts saved.
From the latter save, Carew floated in the corner and as the ball ricocheted around, Nathan Green headed the ball into the net.
Dulwich managed to see out the last 11 minutes with no alarms to cement second place and secure a guaranteed play off place. With Billericay dropping two points to hold just a one point lead, but with a game in hand, Hamlet still hope they will be able to sneak ahead of them to take the title and avoid the play-offs where they have had so much disappointment in the past.
Dulwich Hamlet 2, Thurrock 1