Ryman League title contenders, Dulwich Hamlet completed the double over Eastbourne Town at the Saffrons on Saturday.
Having also been dumped out of the FA Cup by the same opponents, Town will be pleased not to see Dulwich Hamlet again this season. Town’s first game of the New Year was yet another competitive affair, played in much better conditions than their previous game versus Whyteleafe.
The Town ground staff had worked hard to repair what was a quagmire of a pitch only a few days before.
Having seen Sonny Cobbs move to league-leaders, Bognor Regis Town, during the week, Eastbourne Town boss, Danny Bloor was able to include Ryan James in his starting line up, as the popular and influential midfielder had just been released by Oxford United only a few days before.
Scott Kirkwood was also included, having recovered from a knock that had seen him miss the matches over the festive period.
In an open game, good chances were few and far between in the opening half. The physically bigger and stronger visitors just shaded the first half, with their reward a goal scored by the ever dangerous Frankie Sawyer on 27 minutes.
Andre Costa hit the bar from one of a number free kicks conceded just outside the box by the hosts.
They were unable to clear the danger and, when it was delivered to the far post, an unmarked Sawyer smashed home from the edge of the six yard box.
At the start of the second period, Eastbourne boss, Bloor changed from 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 formation, and his decision was vindicated within five minutes of the restart, as the home side equalised with a goal of real quality.
Following a build up of Town pressure, the ball was played to Ryan James on the edge of the Dulwich box and his beautifully cushioned pass was met at full stride by Scott Kirkwood who, with a great first touch, took the ball into the Dulwich box, away from pursuing defenders, before opening his body to guide a delightful curling effort into the corner of the visitor’s net for his fifth league goal of the campaign.
With their tails up, Town now looked the most likely to win as a Kai Bichard piledriver was well saved by Dulwich ‘keeper, Phil Wilson.
A Ryan James’ free kick and another Bichard effort were also well defended by Hamlet.
However, with the match nicely poised, it was a series of substitutions with 15 minutes left that were to prove influential the final outcome. Dulwich brought on a couple of very pacey players that breathed fresh life into their side, and, with it came a final push for a winning outcome.
With only five minutes left, Town contributed to their own downfall as they were again guilty of not marking from set plays. A well delivered corner from the right was met full pelt by Dulwich defender, Morath-Gibbs to put the visitors back in front. Town’s final effort saw the hard working Nathan Crabb caught marginally offside as he looked to break through the massed Dulwich defensive ranks.
As the hosts gambled on finding an equaliser, the visiting side scored what was to be the best of four super goals on 89 minutes. Andre Costa produced a mazy run from the left before unleashing a thunderbolt of a shot past Thorp’s despairing dive.
The final scoreline certainly flattered the visitors as, on another day, the hosts may well have gotten a point for their considerable efforts. However, Bloor was left to ponder another home defeat with the coup-de-grace again delivered in the very latest stages of a game.
TOWN: Thorp 7, Storrie 6, James 6 (Hopkinson 76), Elliott 7, Fogden 7, May 6, Kirkwood 7 (Freeman 82), Davidson 7, Bichard 7
N.Crabb 6, Kessack 6 Subs:
Not Used: S.Crabb, Geard, Graves
MoM: Adam Davidson....wholehearted, efficient and effective. Att 246