It proved a frustrating afternoon for the Peacocks as they saw their four game winning sequence ended in a disjointed encounter. After their well-executed victory at Dartford which had been completed 41 hours earlier, Town were unable to replicate that performance against the South London side still hovering nervously one place above the relegation zone but with results elsewhere, the Peacocks are now 100% assured of National League South football next season whilst Hamlet’s chances have also improved markedly.
The visitors showed one change to their starting line-up, Zac Smith replacing Ollie Chamberlain who only played the first half at Dartford due to a tight hamstring. Although on paper Town were more than capable of getting a result, those hopes never evolved into reality in the 90 minutes that followed in a game which had few redeeming features from a claret and blue perspective. The early exchanges passed by with nothing of consequence until Hamlet won the opening corner of the game after 10 minutes. Conor Lawless delivered to the far post where Danny Mills climbed to head goalwards and after Jack Bycroft had blocked two initial attempts from close range, George Porter eventually forced it over the line to give the home side the early advantage.
Smith fed Dylan Morgan who saw his effort blocked as the Peacocks looked to respond in front of a packed 3,291 crowd, the largest attendance they had played in front of this season whilst also being far removed from the normal non-league footballing environment. After Nick Grimes had been yellow carded for halting a Dulwich breakaway, the hosts had another opening when Quade Taylor’s ball over the top found Porter who fired wide of the target. Town meanwhile had gradually found their feet after a slow start, but chances were scarce. Smiths’ cross was punched away by Hamlet keeper Aaron Jones who also clutched two Morgan deliveries from the right. Mills planted a header well over from a Sanchez Ming cross at the opposite end before another home counter led to Ming out on the right seeing his effort deflect to Kristian Campbell whose shot found the side netting.
Joe Guest headed wide from a Cam Evans cross to end an opening half as uncomfortable to endure as the stop-start crawl into the London suburbs from the M25. Unfortunately the outlook remained unchanged after the break. Dulwich did come close to adding to their tally four minutes in when Porter set up Lawless for a curling strike which went narrowly wide of the far post before Campbell had another effort blocked as the home side looked to increase their lead. Two substitutions for the visitors in the space of five minutes, Nick McCootie replacing Dave Sims-Burgess and Ross Stearn taking over from Morgan, failed to improve any luck in the final third where despite plenty of intent nothing would fall and it was Hamlet who were nearest to success as they exploited space down the right flank, Bycroft parrying Ming’s cross-shot at his near post with the follow-up from Lawless also hitting a Town body.
A miskick from Jones fell to McCootie whose shot was blocked before penalty appeals after both Stearn and Smith went down in the box were dismissed by referee Laflin whose decision-making in the latter stages was to Town’s detriment. Chamberlain replaced Grimes with 15 minutes to go after the Town skipper had received treatment but within five minutes Hamlet had scored their second to effectively settle affairs. Moments after Stearn had had his close range finish chalked out for offside, a Dulwich break ended with Porter being clipped from behind by a Town player unknown and Ming sent Bycroft the wrong way from the spot with eleven minutes to play.
The Peacocks were then reduced to ten men after 81 minutes when McCootie was shown a straight red card for allegedly adopting an aggressive attitude. Irritation further increased when Lloyd James was also booked after he had appeared to be the victim of some infringements, not the other way round. The last ten minutes plus five minutes of stoppage produced no real opportunities for Town to get on the scoresheet. A low cross from Nat Jarvis was cleared while good work from Smith paved the way for Chamberlain to pull the trigger. However he mishit the attempt, symptomatic of an afternoon in which the Peacocks never got into the groove on the pitch to align with the pre-game disco classics being played over the PA. Nevertheless with four games remaining the mission to remain at Step 2 is complete. #UpThe Peacocks 🦚👍
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Nick Grimes (captain) (Ollie Chamberlain 75), Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis, Joe Guest, Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess (Nick McCootie 57), Dylan Morgan (Ross Stearn 61)
Dulwich Hamlet: Aaron Jones, Sanchez Ming, Conor Lawless, Jack Holland (captain), Frankie Raymond (Michael Phillips 74), Danny Mills, Quade Taylor, George Porter, Deon Woodman, Joe Felix (Johl Powell 87), Kristian Campbell. Unused subs: David Stephens, Cam Thompson, Gianni Crichlow
Referee: George Laflin (Stowmarket)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Stuart Smith (Watford)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Bogdan Khimych (London)
“We lacked a little bit of fluidity today which is understandable with the games we’ve had……” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights courtesy of Dulwich Hamlet FC can be seen HERE
Match photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Joe Guest was named Taunton Town Man Of The Match, photo to follow