Dulwich 5 – 2 VCD Athletic

1,961 people were in attendance today, to see almost as many goals scored, in our ‘pay what you want’ game vs VCD Athletic.

The ground feels a bit cramped with that many people, and getting a decent view of the pitch can be difficult. There’s also an inverse correlation between crowd size and atmosphere, when the vocal supporters can’t all group together.

Oh yeah, and the gold laces on my diamond shoes are too tight. Despite these moans, it was great seeing so many there supporting the club.

Such vast legions may have unsettled our guests from the outback (or “the green team,” as someone near me kept calling them). They must have felt like Judean Christians, brought to the Colosseum for sacrifice. Vickers played like a team of vicars, and the Hamlet were in no mood for namby-pamby notions of mercy and goodwill.

No team can expect to walk into the National League, and we’ve had some difficulties in recent weeks, losing at Burgess Hill, and twice scraping our way back to earn that strange 3-3 draw against Hampton & Richmond. The game at Whitehawk also demonstrated what lies in wait for promoted clubs. Even our win at Met Police was seen as more reflective of the home side’s turgidity, than our own efforts.

But today was a day to cast off any doubts, and bask in the glory of a good old transpontine bear baiting.

Jacob Erskine’s 3rd minute goal set the tone, and after that, we were quite simply mauling VCD at times. Erskine’s second, and Mitchell Nelson’s goal were just rewards for the convincing domination of the first half, which was nevertheless perhaps best encapsulated by Jordan Hibbert’s impromptu keepy-uppy practice on the right wing.

Getting some beers from the bar at half time was an arduous task. My wife handled it with aplomb, while I relaxed outside, reading the programme.

My official job was to find us a spot with a good view of proceedings for the second half. It has to be said, there were a few people who seemed uninterested in the game itself. I’ve no problem with them being there personally, but just wish they’d move away from the railings, so others could see the match more clearly.

We continued to dominate in the second half, and one player who embodied that was Rhys Murrell-Williamson. He tore into VCD’s defence repeatedly. It’s great watching his tenacious but silky football. Sure enough, in the 74th minute, he found a sweet spot in front of goal, and teed up an absolute piledriver. Callum Thomas, if he’d had time to register what was coming, would have thought “No, ta,” and fled the ball’s flight path without apology.

Josh Fernandes has looked a good player each time I’ve seen him. He replaced Danny Waldren, and his neat ball control certainly added to our attacking play. Watching him is a bit like watching Land of the Giants, too. Added value. It will be a shame when we lose him later in the season, while he takes time out to study for his Eleven Plus.

Damian Scannell did well to set up the fifth goal, and it was nice to see Josh get his first for the club.

It capped an imperious display, one that was then unceremoniously blemished by VCD upstart, Aaron Wickham, forgetting his place, and scoring at the other end. It was a goal of mighty implications, which shook Champion Hill, although to be honest, we didn’t realise it had gone in. We thought Nathan Koranteng’s 90th minute goal was VCD’s only consolation, until the final score was announced.

It mattered not, as we’d smashed ’em, as they say.

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