Andy Charles – @capitalgull
Torquay United played party pooper in South London, with goals from Jamie Reid (him again!) and Saikou Janneh enough to settle a hard-fought and, at times, tasty affair against Dulwich Hamlet.
Doubts over the game continued until about 30 minutes before kick-off, with hundreds of fans already inside Tooting & Mitcham’s Imperial Fields ground, hosting Hamlet for the last time ahead of their move back to Champion Hill later this month.
But the chafer grubs inhabiting one corner of the ground were flattened by a roller you might see more often at Lord’s, and within 30 seconds of the slightly-delayed kick-off it was nearly a dream start for Dulwich when former Gull Gavin Tomlin had a sight of goal, but Ben Wynter made a timely block for a corner.
Bar that chance, Torquay had the better of a goalless first half, testing Preston Edwards from long-range on a couple of occasions, particularly spectacular in his punched save on a 30-yarder from Kalvin Kalala.
Reid and Ruairi Keating also spurned chances, while the half ended in testy fashion with bookings handed out by an over-officious, above-hopeless referee (more of him later!). Shaun MacDonald came to the fore early in the second half with a couple of fantastic saves keeping out Nyren Clunis and centre-back Michael Chambers, the most impressive player from a very decent Dulwich side, who even their stadium announcer admitted should be playing at a much higher level.
But Torquay clung on after a brief spell of pressure and then stepped up a gear in the last half-hour, first Kalala going close to what would have been a goal of the season contender had he just hit the bloody target (excuse my French!) after beating man after man after man with sheer pace.
The vital opening goal eventually came from a predictable source with 20 minutes remaining and with Dulwich players and fans alike aghast – a Keating piledriver smacked Dulwich’s argumentative defender Magnus Okuonghae in the knackers and, with him prone in the box and playing everyone onside, a deep cross found Reid to fire past Edwards at the far post.
The game appeared to be over as a contest on 78 minutes when Ibrahim Kargbo left a back pass to Edwards short and Janneh nipped in to score again to make it 2-0. However, it could still have proved a very nervy finish but for more good work from MacDonald, who somehow blocked a shot from Dipo Akinyemi and tipped away another effort from the lively Clunis.
But, with 5pm behind us and added time dragging on forever, it would be another win and an all-too-rare clean sheet for the Yellow hordes in a crowd of 1,441 to celebrate.
Shaun MacDonald 8 – candidate for MOTM on a day with plenty of them. Some spectacular saves and looking like Alex Bass might struggle to get back into the side.
Ben Wynter 7 – looked more at ease against Sanchez Ming than he might have if Nathan Green had played on the left.
Liam Davis 7 – calm and effective down the left as ever, worked some lovely moves with Kalala.
Jean-Yves Koue Niate 7 – fine display but needs to learn to control his temper as he had to dragged off late doors to avoid being sent off after constant battles with a series of different Dulwich forwards.
Kyle Cameron 9 – others will get the headlines but, as far as I am concerned, Cameron could be Gary Owers’ legacy. I’ve not seen a better centre-half at this level and Dulwich fans around us were effusive in their praise of his display.
Connor Evans 6 – he’ll have much better days.
Jake Andrews 6 – likewise, he’ll play much better than today. Neither he or Evans was particularly effective on a tough pitch. He was also another of Torquay’s “angry man” brigade.
Ruairi Keating 6 – sorry to his fans, but right-wing is not for Ruairi. He was very (very!) lucky not to be sent off today as well. Needs some calming words from the management as his dissent was obvious.
Kalvin Kalala 8.5 – I nearly gave him MOTM and probably would have had he managed to hit the target with his big chance at 0-0. He’s hugely exciting to watch, that’s for sure.
Jamie Reid 8.5 – I’m sold. Completely sold. He’s maturing into an excellent footballer and, the biggest key for me, is also such a hard worker. Non-stop running and took his goal (15 for the season) well.
Saikou Janneh 7 – Composed finish for his goal (7 in 6 games) but I would just, being picky, like to see a little more unselfish play from a player with so much talent. But he’s only a pup, so easily excused!
George Essuman 6 – On for an angry Koue Niate and little chance to make impact.
Ryan Dickson 6 – On for Kalala with no more than about 30 seconds to play.
Man of the Match: Kyle Cameron
Not for the first time in my match verdicts, MOTM goes to captain Kyle Cameron, a player mature beyond his 21 years and clearly well-schooled in his time at Newcastle United. He’s imperious in the air, good with the ball at his feet as well and almost impossible to faze. He constantly came into advanced midfield positions and played in excellent balls to the Torquay forwards. One of the best, if not the best, centre-backs at this level and surely an asset to be sold on at some point, hopefully once he’s helped us get back up to the National League.
Three more to be talked about, one of whom I will get to in my spotlight, which will be on Kalvin Kalala. At one end, Shaun MacDonald, who continues to prove another astute addition from the Owers regime. Spectacular saves on at least three occasions and his distribution is also a massive positive as he helped turn defence into attack quickly a number of times. At the other, what can you say about Jamie Reid that others haven’t. I watched him closely today and I’ve rarely seen a striker work as hard. He was all over the park and deserved his goal, which was well taken and showed some of his team-mates what composure is.
Definitely 4-4-2 this time. No surprises anywhere across the park and probably only one player short of full-strength, where Opi Edwards would surely have played ahead of Keating. Still no Asa Hall in the 16-man squad.
I’m something of a Dulwich fan, having seen them a few times this year, and they gave us a bloody good game. They had a couple of square pegs in round holes (Kargbo at right wing-back for starters) but could easily have won this game today if they had taken some of their chances. It would have been no shock if this game had finished 3-3. The only negative was some of their behaviour, especially Magnus Okuonghae, but that applied to both sides. And none of it was helped by…
Joseph Miles. I’d rather never have to see you again Sir. You clearly have no idea what a handball is, find it difficult to control players, make some terrible decisions and need to go back to refereeing school. Not wasting any more time talking about this complete buffoon.
I’ll be honest and admit one of Miles’ incorrect decisions really helped Torquay out this afternoon. The score was 1-0 when Anthony Cook (I think) was brought down by Niate. To me, and I had a decent angle on it, the midfielder was inside the box for what looked like a stick-on penalty. Instead it was given as a free-kick inches outside the area. That decision combined with MacDonald’s two saves during the spell of Dulwich pressure set up our eventual victory.
Player Spotlight: Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala
He’s going to excite and frustrate in equal measure, but Kalvin Kalala is a player who can really make a difference in any game he participates in. He had stand-in right-back Ibrahim Kargbo in his pocket all afternoon, beating him at will, including on his run through the Dulwich defence which really should have ended in a sensational goal…one people would have played over and over again on You Tube, better than Reid’s thunderbolt from last week. But he missed and it will be consigned to the “what might have been” file instead. If Gary Johnson can continue to knock the raw edges off him, he’s another player we might see move on to a higher level.
Another tough game out of the way with three more points in the bag. Billericay stumbled again and with Woking on FA Cup duty, we are up to third place, just one point off the top. Performances continue to come at a high level, with good individual efforts from goalkeeper to strikers, and next week’s home clash with new leaders Welling now looms as another vital game to get through. More of the consistency we have shown away from Plainmoor is needed at home, so get out in your thousands to cheer on this exciting new Yellow Army!