the real fa cup

Ming The Merciful

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FA Cup weekend comes around again and, again, Chelsea are on the telly. Yawn. Michael Ballack is, predictably, acting like a petulant child so, before the main course of reality with chips, we have a prawn cocktail of everything that’s wrong with football.

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The big news story of the day is that therealfacup posse for this game numbers 6 (Six)! We’re growing, people! Literally. We cultivated them in a small lock up in Peckham and, with eyelids clamped open, forced them to watch Ronny Radford’s thunderbolt en loop until they were ready for release.

The topics of pre-match conversation were based around reinvigorating football. ‘Let’s pump more money into football’ was a good one and ‘manager rotation’ the best. The latter prompted by Norwich firing their Gunn (well, everyone else has done it, why can’t we?) after one game and replacing him with the manager of the team that got him sacked. The proposition here is that every thrashed team assumes the manager that has just beaten them. Based on recent results Burnley’s manager would now be Carlo Ancelotti and Paul Lambert would actually now be back at Wycombe, having hammered them in his first proper game as Norwich manager. This could work.

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After a livener or two, the 6 Cuppers (hmm … sounds faintly erotic, might have to avoid using that again) descended on Champion Hill for 10 minutes of hoofball before Hamlet settled down and started smoking the Sevenoaks back line.

Between 10 and 15 minutes Stefan Cox had the Sevenoaks right back lost in the woods several times, each time bamboozling him with stupidly quick feet before rattling off a diverse selection of non-scoring shots. He then switched sides, against the very vocal wishes of his manager, and gave the left back a roasting. In between, the HUGE Ryan James shot from just inside the box, ricocheting for a corner.

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Sevenoaks touched the ball literally several times in the next 15 minutes but only to courteously return it to Dulwich. Dulwich’s Cox and Sanchez Ming were running riot down the flanks and Junior Kadi (above) was spraying balls across the pitch. James and Luke Hickie were moving around across the defence causing discomfort. Cox went past the fullback again like Usain Bolt with a great first touch and curled a stanshion-bound shot that the keeper flicked round the post. Five minutes later Ming tried the same trick from the same spot but further from the keeper, who could only help it into the top corner. At last!!

Dulwich Hamlet 1 Sevenoaks Town 0

It would be kind to say the goal braced a limp Sevenoaks display but in reality Dulwich eased off, thinking it was only a matter of time before they got a second. Sevenoaks’ Joe Minter received the ball wide left and bore down on a retreating Hamlet right back before unleashing a dipping drive that deceived keeper Kieran Thorp and crashed back off the bar. And what a beautiful, resonant twang that bar gave in return. A great noise, almost better than scoring, the kind of quality noise you don’t really hear on the telly. The defence stopped to soak up the aural beauty while an onrushing forward tamely dabbed the rebound past the post.

Half Time

Dulwich Hamlet 1 Sevenoaks Town 0

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A Sevenoaks fan in the bar tried to provoke a response from the home fans by enquiring what on earth they did when Cox (above, shooting) wasn’t playing. It was a fair point, he was the standout attacking God although Kadi, Ming, James and Hickey were also princely instruments of most of Hamlet’s good stuff. Dulwich should have scored more.

The first 30 minutes of the second half were more even than the first, although with Dulwich still fashioning the genuine chances. James forced a good save from Funnel (below), heading on a pin point cross, then got a shot off after turning his centre back on the edge of the box. Ming tried to put the ‘Oaks to the sword by emulating his goal but the keeper didn’t fall for it this time.

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For 2 or 3 minutes the Dulwich bench in front of us was amusingly preoccupied with a wasp that would not leave their clear plastic shelter. From the other side of the pitch the hand-wavery would have looked like some elaborate tactical communique with the players. Perhaps they were reminding them that this time last year Dulwich outfoxed Broxbourne and succumbed to a sloppy late equaliser.

The semafore went unheeded or misunderstood and just seconds later some, good ‘Oaks pressure, keystone-cop defending and a goalmouth scramble produced an equaliser but the lino ruled it out. This really should have focused the Dulwich minds, instead they chose to pull up a deckchair and sit back in the sunshine to wait for the end of the game. Two minutes later Joe Creasey ruined summer when he stung a shot across Thorp like a big ruinous wasp and Sevenoaks were level (below).

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Dulwich Hamlet 1 Sevenoaks Town 1

The next time Sevenoaks got forward a voice from the crowd wearily shouted “We could be winning now, lino”. All of a sudden Sevenoaks looked like a football team. Creasey chipped Thorp who was not only quite short but at times kamikaze with his positioning. He just got back in time on this occasion. A Sevenoaks’ sub had a torpedo blown out of the water and then blazed over when well placed but that was it. Replay required.

Full Time

Dulwich Hamlet 1 Sevenoaks Town 1

MOM: Stefan Cox Of Dulwich

That was a decent game after an inauspicious start. Post match entertainment was table football, girls vanquished by boys and then the unlikely partnership of Ipswich & Norwich played out a stalemate with Sheffield Wednesday and the US national side. Good stuff. More pictures to follow … and thanks to our largest band of followers yet.

Damon.

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