No Festive Cheer For Blues
Blues put up a spirited fight against promotion contenders Dulwich Hamlet writes The Mariner
A bumper Bank Holiday crowd saw the Blues give a good account of themselves against high flying Hamlet skippered by former fans favourite Kenny Beaney. Two second half goals the first by another ex Blue Dumebi Dumaka and a late breakaway second secured the points for the visitors although Blues pushed them all the way.
The visitors enjoyed a good deal of possession in the early stages as they looked to test a Blues rearguard which has looked a much more resilient unit in recent weeks discounting the recent setback at Havant and Waterlooville.
Blues first opening came in the tenth minute,Jamie Mascoll back in the side after his weeks trial at League 2 Hartlepool United sent in a diagonal ball aiming for the head of the advancing Harry Watkins but another ex Blue keeper Preston Edwards intervened claiming the ball at full stretch.
As the half progressed Blues began to find their rhythm putting together some neat interplay and looked to use the pace of in form marksman Kieron Bishop, and Joao Carlos making his home debut on his return to the club.
Amadou Tangara had to be alert when he saved Dumaka's strike and then did well punching the ball away under pressure from a Hamlet corner.Shortly after Blues had a lucky let off when Mascoll gave the ball away carelessly, Clunis capitalised on the mistake playing the ball into Carr who should have done better hooking the ball over from close range.The visitors did get the ball in the net in the 24th minute only to be ruled out for offside.
Tangara was by now the busier of the two keepers saving well from a Carew free kick whilst at the other end Edwards did well to save a glancing header from Lheureux Menga after good work by Watkins.Tangara was again called into action making a block save from Carr.
Chances were coming thick and fast at either end ,Dumaka curled a shot just over and then as the half came to a close Watkins had a golden opportunity to put Blues in front when a mistake by Chambers allowed him a clear sight on goal but with only Edwards to beat he shot wildly over but in his defence the ball appeared to bobble as he shaped to shoot.
The second period started with Blues creating two chances a Watkins floated effort dropped just under the crossbar and was scrambled away and then a Bishop shot on the turn produced a smart save from Edwards but it was Dulwich who were to make the breakthrough in the 51st minute.A quick break out wide saw Clunis send in a cross to the far post where Dumaka found himself unmarked in space in the area turning neatly he blasted the ball past the exposed Tangara.
Tangara was tested again moments later when he denied the onrushing Carr with a block save when the Dulwich man looked favourite to increase the visitors lead. At this stage of the game the Hamlet were dominating proceedings with Beaney pulling the strings in midfield and for a time Blues were not helping their cause by standing off their opponents allowing them space and time on the ball.
Blues though lacked nothing in character keeping their goal intact and began to create their own opportunities, Mascoll swung in a cross with Bishop deftly flicking the ball goalwards only to see Edwards gather safely.Dumaka then created an opening for the visitors receiving the ball from a free kick he played in Carr who wasted the opportunity firing over from close range.
Dulwich then made a flurry of substitutions in farcical circumstances with numbers being branded almost like a night at the Bingo which greatly annoyed Blues management and fans The referee briefly appeared to have lost control of the situation leaving Blues PA announcer Stuart Goshawk in a state of apoplexy !
Sanity was finally restored allowing Blues to search out an equaliser and they came very close and to many fans did appear to get the ball over the line .Carlos drew a foul on the edge of the visitors box and won a corner from the free kick ,the ball was swung over Luke Wilson glanced a header which looped over Edwards and appeared to many to have crossed the line but was hooked away to safety by Green .
Not to be outdone Dulwich nearly increased their advantage Beaney produced a free kick which eluded defenders and forwards and sailed past the upright but they did ensure they went home with three points in injury time .Blues won a corner and in a last throw of the dice pushed everyone forward including keeper Tangara,the ball was swung over and in the resultant scramble the ball was cleared finding Tangara who miscontrolled the ball, Clunis reacted quicly picked up the loose ball and ran forward slotting the ball into the Blues unguarded net.
Blues can take comfort from the fact they matched their loftier rivals for long periods of the game only conceding the second goal in the dying moments when they were pushing for an equaliser.
Next up is a trip to the Kent coast to meet newly promoted Folkestone Invicta in a game they are capable of getting a result from if they produce the same fighting spirit that produced three recent wins.Kick off for this game is 1pm.