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  • By Dan Evans at Dog Kennel Hill

Dulwich Hamlet earn 2-1 win in Paul Barnes’s first official day on the job

By Dan Evans at Dog Kennel Hill

Dulwich Hamlet 2 (2) Owusu 15, Mills 30

Hungerford Town 1 (0) Muir (pen) 86

 

Starting afresh with someone new after seeming destined to remain with one partner forever can be scary, but Paul Barnes and Dulwich Hamlet may be on to something good after the new manager won his first game as permanent boss 2-1 against Hungerford Town.

 

First-half goals from Nana Owusu and Danny Mills earned Dulwich victory against their fellow National League South strugglers, securing a first home league win since the opening day of the season despite conceding a late Niko Muir penalty.

 

Fortunately, Dulwich Hamlet and Barnes did at least have an interim fling before making things official following the departure of Gavin Rose as manager after 13 years at Champion Hill.

 

Three wins in six games across league and cup was enough to convince the Hamlet hierarchy that Barnes was their man, and, after a nervy opening against the men from Berkshire on Saturday, there were plenty of signs that this could be a perfect match.

 

Having survived goalkeeper Charlie Grainger being robbed of the ball by Hungerford striker Muir in just the seventh minute, Dulwich winger Nana Owusu began to play with the attacking freedom that Barnes has insisted upon since his arrival.

 

The summer signing from Oxford City served the visitors a warning in the 10th minute when his angled effort from just inside the penalty area came back off the crossbar, but his big moment would arrive just five minutes later.

 

After a mazy run by Jayden Clarke was illegally brought to an end on the edge of the Hungerford box, Owusu stepped up to guide a free-kick beyond goalkeeper Tyla Dickinson and give his side the lead.

 

Dulwich then defended a series of balls played into their box with varying degrees of competence before a reminder of the Rose regime set the home side on course for a comfortable afternoon.

 

Danny Mills played over 70 games under the former manageracross three Covid-affected seasons in southeast London, finishing top-scorer in each of those campaigns and firmly establishing himself as the team’s talisman.

 

The striker’s aerial prowess caused issues for the visiting backline for much of the afternoon, and this was never moreevident than in the 30th minute as Mills nodded home a delightful Kreshnic Krasniqi cross via the underside of the crossbar.

 

 

A quiet start to the second half was very early brought to life in the 66th minute when Dulwich’s two goalscorers combined; Owusu striking the upright with a left-foot shot after being picked out by Mills.

 

After overcoming a brief moment of panic when Grainger denied Hungerford substitute Sammy Ompreon as he strode clear of the home defence, Barnes looked set for a comfortable end to his first official day in charge.

 

However, with five minutes left to play, winger Sam Rollinson was sent tumbling in the Dulwich penalty area and referee Ross Martin showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

 

Muir expertly picked out the top corner from 12 yards, creating a feeling of unnecessary angst around Champion Hill as the idea that the club’s new start may not be a perfect one emerged for the first time on the afternoon.

 

But Grainger was never bothered again in the closing stages that followed, and an injury-time shot from Hungerford substitute Ben Allen that cleared the ground was jeered with as much relief as it was contempt.

 

Victory sees Dulwich move three points further clear of the relegation zone, although they are still only 19th in the league standings and will be hoping this was just the start of a promising new managerial relationship.

 

Dulwich Hamlet: (4-3-3) Grainger – Felix, Holland, Wood(Vint 45), Blackman – Krasniqi (Deadfield 77), Raymond, Clarke – Porter, Mills, Owusu (Nzala 68). Subs not used:Osaghae, Kalala

 

Hungerford Town: (4-2-3-1) Dickinson – Tyler, Bailey, Berry-Hargreaves (Gyebi 83), Jones – Smith, McGrory –Rollinson, Evans (Ompreon 58), Ofosu (Allen 77) – Muir. Subs not used: Rusby, Lynch


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