The first Fleet-Dulwich clash for almost 20 years ended all square as the 10-man home side battled and fought for almost an hour following Jake Goodman’s red card – and had the better chances to win the game.
Rakish Bingham put the Fleet ahead while it was 11 v 11 but former Fleet striker Danny Mills set up Lewis White to earn Hamlet a share of the spoils minutes after Goodman’s dismissal.
Dennis Kutrieb shuffled his starting lineup with Tom Hadler coming back in goal and Jake Goodman in for the injured Charlie Rowan. But it was much the same lineup that had performed so well in the second-half at Braintree.
Neither side really caught sight of goal early on and it took until the 12th minute for a chance to present itself when Josh Payne’s swerving free-kick forced a good save low at his near post from young goalkeeper James Pardington.
Predictably Mills was a threat in the air for Dulwich and from one flick-on in the 24th minute, Sandro Embalo tried to back-heel an effort past Hadler with the goalkeeper unsighted, but he managed to gather.
Pardington was in action again on 21 minutes, Adam Mekki advancing into space down the right, Rakish Bingham with the dummy and Lee Martin unleashing an effort that had the goalkeeper stretching to turn it away.
Tempers spilled over moments later when Sanchez Ming went through the back of Will Wood who required lengthy treatment before carrying on.
Wood picked himself up to play a part in the goal on 26 minutes, advancing into Dulwich territory to find Mekki. The wide man attacked as two Dulwich defenders stood off, drawing a save from Pardington but he spilled the ball and the gift that keeps on giving, Bingham, was on to it in a flash to get there ahead of the flailing goalkeeper and fire home.
It was an all-action 10 minutes as the red card came next. The clock was ticking towards the half-hour mark when Goodman stretched to recover his pass in midfield but Ruben Sammut got their first and the Fleet defender slid in to upend the Dulwich man. That earned the referee’s wrath as well as the opposition’s and Goodman was issued his marching orders.
Rather than disappear into their shell, Fleet reverted to a three-man back line much like had been deployed against Hastings last week. But Dulwich were back on level terms three minutes later.
Mills had one header on target that Hadler dealt with but with the next attack the former Fleet man did well to get a low cross into the six-yard box that was turned home by White.
Dulwich didn’t really press home their man advantage until late in the half and a ball into the box should have been attacked with more vigour by either Mills or Deon Moore. In the end neither had the conviction and Hadler was able to pluck the ball to safety.
Like the first half, the second took a little while to develop. On 53 minutes a Fleet attack was snuffed out and White broke quickly down the left for the visitors who had three men spare up front. It fell to Moore and he had the whole goal to aim at but Hadler was off his line and made a great block.
Four minutes later, the other flank was Dulwich’s supply line, Ming’s strong run resulting in a ball into the six-yard box for Mills but Tobi Adebayo-Rowling got a vital intervention, stopping the ball with his heel.
Fleet closed out the game much the stronger, however, still looking to a calm, passing approach despite the numerical disadvantage.
Chapman and Adebayo-Rowling’s growing understanding down the right carved out a few useful low crosses into the Dulwich area. Chapman was again involved to release Martin who cut back a chance for Bingham but the ball rolled up his arm as he went to shoot.
Paxman and Martin’s neat exchange produced the next chance a minute later, Paxman driving through midfield but Pardington was behind his firm shot.
There was something of a bundle in the Fleet box with Hadler bravely diving at Mills’ feet to deny him eight yards out.
With nine minutes left, great work from Paxman found Bingham on the edge of the box. He might have been better off placing a firmer shot on target but instead his effort drifted across the box where Chapman was unable to capitalise.
Kutrieb went looking for the win, bringing on Michael West and Iffy Allen to complement James Dobson’s earlier introduction. Dobson drew a save from Pardington and Bingham went ever so close when he rose to a corner only to see a header float away from the upright.
There was one last chance of note, Martin and Bingham combining, the latter holding play up to feed Martin but his shot from 18 yards curled high and wide of the target.
And that was that as the teams were forced to settle for a point apiece
EUFC: Hadler, Adebayo-Rowling, Wood, Kahraman, Goodman, Payne (West 84), Chapman (Allen 86), Mekki (Dobson 80), Paxman, Martin, Bingham. Subs not used: Holmes, Egan
DHFC: Pardington, Ming, Barnes, Timlin, Debrah, Embalo, White (Allassani 77), Sammut (Higgs 77), Mills, Hyde, Moore (Henry 67). Subs not used: Taylor, David