BY DANIEL MARSH
Dulwich Hamlet’s late heroics enabled them to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat against Billericay Town on Saturday – and keep a four-point gap over the National League South drop-zone.
The hosts had a difficult opening period and went in at half-time 2-0 down and also having lost two players with injuries – Quade Taylor and Jamie Mascoll.
Joe Kizzi and Moses Emmanuel were on target for Billericay.
Dulwich defender Michael Chambers maintained his team never lost belief about gaining something from the game despite a tough first half.
“All the boys were confident,” said the Hamlet centre-back.
“When we play at home in front of the crowd, they seem to give us that extra lift and it does seem to help us. When we went 2-0 down, we felt like we were still in the game, apart from obviously the two goals we conceded.
“In the second half you could see we were energised, and we seemed to just put it on them.
“We just kept persistent pressure and pressure and pressure. We deserved to get a point from the game. If you look at the chances, we could have probably got a lot more.”
Dulwich manager Gavin Rose made four changes in response to the 4-1 defeat at Oxford City last week, with Magnus Okuonghae, Dominic Vose, Daniel Thompson and Nathan Green in for Aryan Tajbakhsh, George Essuman, Anthony Cook and Luke Wanadio.
In a difficult first half where both teams struggled to build anything coherent, it was the visitors who made the most of their chances with just over a quarter of an hour gone.
Billericay took the lead following a trio of corners, the third resulting in an excellent whipped delivery from debutant Jack Paxman, which was powered home from close range by Kizzi at the far post.
The hosts were struggling to create anything of note in response to Billericay taking the lead, and they were soon further behind after some poor defending. A long clearance was allowed to bounce, and substitute Cook tried to nod back to Preston Edwards from the edge of the box – unfortunately Emmanuel was lurking to ruthlessly volley past the Hamlet keeper from eight yards.
Dulwich re-emerged with a renewed vigour and had the visitors on the back foot for the majority of the second half.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, a raking ball forward from captain Okuonghae saw the run of Nyren Clunis illegally halted by Michee Efete in the penalty area. Dipo Akinyemi was cool, calm and collected as he coldly swept the ball home into the bottom left-hand corner, Alan Julian diving to his right.
A grandstand finish was sensed by the record 3,243 crowd inside Champion Hill, and the majority of them were not disappointed by dramatic late scenes.
Hamlet pushed and probed, with crosses and corners raining down on the Billericay goal, Julian worth a mention for some commanding goalkeeping.
But he was left helpless in the final seconds of five additional minutes. The ball broke to Vose on the left and his teasing cross was inadvertently directed into his own net by veteran defender Lloyd Doyley to spark wild celebrations, with a vital point ensuring Hamlet avoided defeat.
It was a disappointing start from Hamlet, and Chambers appreciated that the final result could be construed as a point gained due to the manner of the goals conceded.
“If you look at the goals we let in, I’d say that I would always take a point,” he said. “But obviously at the same time it is two points lost.
“But I would definitely take a point from how we started and the manner of which our goals went in.”
Photos by Keith Gillard