Dulwich Hamlet 3 – 3 Hemel Hempstead.
It was a superb advert for Non-League Football, with six goals and last minute drama with nearly 2,500 in attendance who saw Dulwich sporting a fantastic special kit in support of the Redthread charity which was matched by Hemel’s bright green attire which added to the spectacle.
After some early Hemel pressure Hamlet took the lead with Thompson grabbing a goal after just five minutes. It was a neat finish after a quick Dulwich counter attack stretched Hemel’s back line but the home fans fans hardly had time to finish celebrating before Howe equalised for Hemel in the 12th.
Up until this point the game had been end to end but, once the game calmed down a bit, Hemel kept possession well. Despite not being able to penetrate the box they grabbed a long-range effort from Parkes in the 28th minute, a superb effort into the top right after he found himself in a pocket of space on the edge of the box.
Dulwich continued to look dangerous on the counter but were giving Hemel too much space around the edge of their own area and Captain Fantastic, Jordan Parkes took advantage, smashing a contender for “Goal of the season” with a brilliant long range volley, coming off the back of a chest and knee control that somehow evaded the 6’ 10” frame of Jørgensen and looped into the net to make it 3 – 1 with half an hour gone. As half-time approached the home side started to look dangerous and they pulled a scrappy goal back, taking advantage of some sloppy defending with Thompson getting his second after tucking it in underneath Walker. Frustration for Hemel as they had looked good value for their two goal lead.
The Tudors almost and probably should have restored their advantage in the dying moments of the half when they saw two efforts, cleared off the line by Cook who got an ovation from an extremely relieved home crowd at the break.
The second half saw Hemel drop deeper and deeper into their own half in an effort to protect the now slender lead, much to the frustration of the travelling Tudor Army. They were relying on the long ball which played into Hamlet’s hands somewhat with their centre half’s mopping everything up and launching a wave of attacks.
Just when it looked as though they might hang on despite having to defend in numbers, they were hit by a classic sucker punch on 89 minutes when Hamlet were awarded a penalty kick. It looked harsh to say the least but sums up The Tudors luck recently when it comes to the officials and their decision making.
Clunis and a freshly subbed on Sheriff had been causing problems and it was Sheriff who saw his attempted effort strike a hand in the Hemel box. The referee appeared to have given a corner only to change his mind under pressure from Dulwich players and supporters alike.
The Tudors showed the displeasure racking up a handful of yellow cards in the process but the decision stood and Sheriff stepped up and tucked it away to level the scores. It was tough on the visitors but on the balance of the second half Hamlet probably deserved a share of the spoils.
It could have got worse as the home side, roared on by the big crowd, forced a series of late corners in search of a winner but Walker and his defence held firm for a draw and a point that felt like a defeat at the end.
Hemel have been on the end of a few controversial decisions lately and they will be hoping their luck will change sooner rather than later in that respect, Laurie walker summed it up by saying he hadn’t seen such a strange decision in all of his career, with the referee clearly pointing to the corner flag before succumbing to the pressure of the crowd and the home players. All very frustrating and with a daunting match away at high flying Woking next up, Tudors fans will be hoping that the footballing Gods will look down more kindly on Tuesday evening.
Hemel 1: Laurie Walker 2:Joe Howe 3: Oliver Swain 4: Jordan Parkes © 5: Darren Ward 6: Frankie Musonda 7: Jacques Kpohomouh 8: Scott Shulton 9: Leon Lobjoit 10: Sanchez watt 11: Kavan Cotter. Subs 12: James Kaloczi 14: Tom Hamblin 15: Jack Snelus 16: Arel Amu 17: George Paulin.