Dulwich Hamlet 5-2 Fleet

Dulwich Hamlet came from behind in front of a sell-out 3,334 crowd as a four-goal second-half salvo turned this game on its head. It seemed a high-scoring game was on the cards as both sides traded goals in the first-half but Dulwich’s pacy attack won them the game after the break.

Fleet had twice taken the lead in the first half and as at Oxford on Tuesday could reasonably have laid claim to two penalties either side of the break but both were waved away. There were two changes for the Fleet, Sido Jombati replacing the injured Joe Martin and Craig Tanner coming in for Chris Solly, who made the bench.

Dulwich had three ex-Fleet faces in their starting eleven plus Danny Mills to call on from the bench. Fleet started the better of the two sides, earning a couple of early corners, although Alfie Egan suffered an early caution after jumping in to a tackle on Gio McGregor.

Ben Chapman was incensed when he wasn’t awarded a penalty in the first 10 minutes after running through only to be taken out by Jordan Higgs in an incident similar to the Joe Martin one at Oxford in midweek.

Keeping ball retention in their favour, Dominic Poleon looked to hold up play and feed skipper Rakish Bingham playing out wide. Egan wasn’t far away in the six-yard box when a delivery landed there for him and he slid in only to be blocked off.

Dulwich’s first real sign of intent came 15 minutes in when patient passing football along the Fleet box had first Bingham and then Egan putting in important challenges before Chike Kandi struck a good low shot wide of Chris Haigh’s far post.

Sefa Kahraman stole a free-kick off Tanner’s feet in the Fleet half to try his luck after spotting Charlie Grainger off his line before then following Egan into the book. Darren McQueen then rode Jombati’s challenge to get into the box on 21 minutes, pinging a pacy pass into Kandi but that ran ahead of him and to safety.

It was high-tempo stuff from both sides and next up was Egan to advance on to a loose ball 20 yards out and plant a shot wide that had Grainger scrambling across his line.

Egan was more fortunate with his next effort on 25 minutes. A short corner from Tanner caught Dulwich by surprise and an unmarked Egan was able to take a touch before whipping in a great effort beyond Grainger for the opening goal.

Dulwich’s reply was significant but just off target. Bingham’s foul on the edge of the box on 31 minutes allowed McGregor a strike on goal from the free-kick that smacked off the crossbar and Quade Taylor sent the swirling rebound well over the terrace.

But the home side kept pressing and got their reward on 38 minutes. After Chapman was yellow-carded for a foul on Jordan Green, the Dulwich player got past Bingham to deliver an inviting cross and Tyrone Sterling merely had to rise to meet it and plant his header into the roof of the net.

Like Dulwich, Fleet’s response was almost instant, Tanner’s inswinging free-kick forcing Grainger into a diving save. Recyling the ball after that, Kahraman dinked a delicate pass out to Bingham on the edge of the box but the No.9 just couldn’t wrap his foot cleanly around it and his shot was blocked.

That was forgotten moments later when Fleet regained the lead on 41 minutes. Good work by Egan to shimmy into a pocket of space allowed him to release the ball for Jack Paxman to find another yard of room and he was able to direct a header past Grainger for 2-1. It could have been 3-1 on the stroke of half-time when Will Wood unleashed a fantastic rocket that beat the goalkeeper all ends up but crashed off the bar.

Fleet celebrate the second courtesy of Jack Paxman

Having just missed one before half-time, Fleet were immediately trying their luck in the opening attack of the second period, Bingham unloading another scorcher that Grainger tipped over.

Another free-kick afforded Dulwich an opportunity and substitute Solly had to intervene to head a shot behind, Tanner doing much the same with the resulting corner. But Dulwich had a good 10 minutes of pressure after that and Fleet succumbed to it just before the hour mark, a good ball into wide man Green taken to a shooting position and he buried his drive across Haigh and into the far corner.

Once again after a goal was scored, there was almost another when Bingham threaded a first-time pass into Poleon’s path. The Fleet No.14 got the best of his two markers but goalkeeper Grainger slid out to clear from under Poleon’s feet.

It proved costly as Dulwich took the lead for the first time on 63 minutes, a shot into the six-yard box parried but former Fleet top scorer McQueen there to pounce and force the ball home. McQueen’s liveliness continued to upset the Fleet as he was swift to take advantage of some hesitancy to send another one skidding past the far post on 67 minutes.

Fleet claimed another penalty when Egan was tackled from behind ad sent sprawling by Andre Blackman and Adebayo-Rowling was booked for his reaction, both sets of fans berating the official for different reasons as home supporters sought a red card.

With 10 minutes left, Dulwich made the game safe, McGregor launching himself at the Fleet defence and his pace and control carried him through to bury a low drive past Haigh. Fleet couldn’t muster an answer, Tanner’s run and shot diverting wide while Grainger gathered from Poleon at close range.

And more damage was done in time added on, substitute Harris-Sealy released beyond the Fleet back line to bury a fifth for Hamlet as they counter attacked to great effect to add sheen to the scoreline as far as home fans were concerned.

EUFC: Haigh, Adebayo-Rowling, Chapman, Jombati (Solly 46), Kahraman, Tanner, Egan, Paxman (Mekki 68), Wood (N’Guessan 77), Bingham, Poleon. Subs: Romain, Firth
DHFC: Grainger, Taylor, Blackman, Timlin, Holland, Sterling, HIggs, McGregor, Kandi (Mills 63), McQueen (Harris-Sealy 86), Green (Barnum-Bobb 75) . Subs: Dayton, Diallo.
Attendance: 3,334

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