By Wilf MacDonnell at Champion Hill
Dulwich Hamlet dug deep in the heat to grind out a goalless draw against a talented Arsenal under-23 side last weekend.
Dulwich welcomed the Gunners to Champion Hill on a scorching summer’s day that meant multiple drinks breaks introduced for the players’ safety.
Despite what the score-line said, the game was one with many chances. Hamlet’s Nana Owusu rattled the bar after just four minutes after chopping inside the Arsenal right-back and unleashing from 20 yards out.
The away side then had a strong spell up the other end. Salah Oulad M’hand and Charlie Patino both tested Charlie Grainger in the Dulwich goal from distance. Grainger saved well but soon gave the ball away cheaply when playing from out the back, only to be bailed out by experienced centre-back Ronny Vint, who hooked Matt Smith’s effort off the line.
The visitors continued to pile the pressure on. Patino – who has already played and scored for Arsenal’s senior team – curled against the bar from 25 yards.
The second half saw a flurry of changes for both teams. Arsenal continued to move the ball fluidly with skipper Smith – who played 43 times on loan at Doncaster Rovers in League One last season – keeping things ticking over in midfield.
But Dulwich were up to the test.
Skilful left-winger Joel Ideho was denied by Grainger when his deflected effort was scrambled away from the near post and then by a heroic last-man block from Vint after great build-up.
It was Dulwich, though, who had the better of the chances in the final stages. The changes at the 60-minute mark brought with them energy and enthusiasm. The impressive Kreshnec Krasniqi won the ball deep in his own half, carried it for 40 yards unopposed before playing in a trialist left-winger, who dragged his effort wide.
With ten minutes left, Andre Blackman was found on the overlap and clipped his cross to the back post where Hamlet talisman Danny Mills headed a great opportunity just over the top.
After an entertaining draw, Hamlet boss Gavin Rose was pleased with what he had seen.
“For me, the game today is about us getting minutes in the bank,” Rose told the News. “I thought we got some really good minutes in the bank against a good Arsenal team.”
Looking ahead to the new season, Rose is happy with the improvements of the facilities around the club.
He said: “Still work being done on the changing rooms but at least an effort has been made. The training ground is not quite [ready] yet but there is an effort to do that.”
Rose could still add to his squad: “If I’m being honest, I’d like to [bring in more players]. Budget would be the issue…but there are players out there I like that I think would complement the group well.”