Hemel Hempstead Town 0 Dulwich Hamlet 6 (Six)
Vanarama National League South 31st August 2021
Match Report by Allan Mitchell
I spoke after the last game about finding positives following a run of defeats, and this result was certainly going to push me to find anything upbeat to say.
After sitting down and chatting to fellow Tudors after the match, I came to the conclusion that this was possibly the most extreme case of a game of two halves that any of us had witnessed in a long time.
The only positives I could find came in the first period, and we all agreed that Hemel should have gone in at the break at least two goals to the good.
Alfie Cerulli was given the difficult task of playing up front on his own with Ky Marsh-Brown operating just behind him, but it seemed to be working quite well with both players working hard against a couple of big central defenders.
Hemel had the first decent chance after 8 minutes when James Dobson crossed in from the left; it was met by Nathan Cooper, who headed wide after finding himself in lots of space.
Cerulli then got on the end of a Gus Scott-Morriss cross, but his glancing header went wide, and he had a similar opportunity minutes later; this time, he missed his header as he once again tried to glance it past the keeper from a Dominic Morgan-Griffiths ball into the box.
Cerulli then did well on the left and cut inside before unselfishly laying the ball off to Marsh-Brown, who got his shot on target, but Charlie Grainger pushed it away in the Dulwich goal.
The visitors only mustered one shot of any merit in the first half, Harris-Sealy shooting well wide when he should have at least tested Patching.
Kyle Ajayi limped off just before the break for Hemel’s obligatory addition to their injury list, but the Tudors fans had good reason to feel this could be the day to open their points account for the season.
Dulwich had other ideas, however, and after clearly getting a half-time pep talk, they came out of the traps very quickly and went in front with just a minute on the clock. A cross came in from the right, which Cooper looked to have covered, but the ball looped up in the air, and it was laid back to Chike Kandi, who fired it home from the edge of the box.
It was 2–0 when Giovanni McGregor curled home a free-kick from just outside the area just three minutes later.
Shortly after, Andrew Harris-Sealy raced down Hemel’s left before cutting into the box and driving home a superb effort from a tight angle.
Three goals in just ten minutes effectively ended the Tudors' hopes, a familiar tale from last season when Hemel were guilty of conceding a glut of goals in quick succession, and with few options upfront, it was going to be a long way back from here.
The home side’s best chance of getting a consolation goal came after 68 minutes when sub. JJ Lacey got on the end of a Josh Castiglione header, but his first time shot was blocked, and just two minutes later, Danny Mills showed them how it was done when he headed home a James Dayton cross to put the game well and truly to bed.
It was now a case of damage limitation as Dulwich looked like scoring with every attack.
Mills found the net again on 86 minutes when he rose unchallenged to head home a corner before the final humiliation came in the last minute when a clumsy challenge in the box led to a penalty for Hamlet and up stepped Jamie Splatt, who converted to make it 6–0.
Nobody in the ground saw the capitulation that ensued in the second half, and it will be a case of ‘back to the drawing board’ for Lee Bircham’s men who find themselves bottom of the table after this defeat and face another challenging game down Essex way on Saturday when they face Concord Rangers.
Hemel: Lewis Patching, Gus Scott-Morriss, Jack Williams (Deshane Dalling) Kyle Ajayi (Stephen Gleeson) Nathan Bertram-Cooper © Cole Kpekawa, Josh Castiglione, Dominic Morgan-Griffiths, Alfie Cerulli (J J Lacey) James Dobson, Ky Marsh-Brown.