Rocks Review: Dulwich Hamlet 0 Rocks 0
The resilient Rocks battled to a point at Champion Hill - and will probably have ended the afternoon happier with a return that keeps them in top spot in Ryman one south.
After an often-scrappy first half, the second period was more open and either side could have snatched victory, but the second-placed hosts probably had more of the play and the chances.
It does stretch the Rocks’ winless run to three games but a point with a weakened squad, that keeps one of their rivals at arm’s length in the table, adds up to a good day’s work.
That said, the pressure will be on for the Rocks to return to winning ways when they host Corinthian Casuals next Saturday.
It was second versus first at Champion Hill with Dulwich starting the day just two points behind Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick’s team.
Dulwich were the first to threaten and Craig Stoner had to make a couple of decent saves in the first 10 minutes, with the hosts’ top scorer Frankie Swayer looking dangerous.
The game settled into quite an even affair, with neither side able to find the sort of fluent football that had got them into such a good position in the promotion race.
Steve Harper had the Rocks’ best chance of the opening half hour but his effort at goal after a cross by Terry Dodd was pushed around the post.
As a tight first half wore towards a close, Dulwich blazed a shot high over the bar from 25 yards before carving out another chance which ended with a shot going wide.
There was little to excite the 150 or so Rocks fans who’d made the trip to south London, but Darryl Wollers supplied them with a few bright spots and was probably the visitors’ best player of the first 45 minutes after being recalled to the starting line-up.
There was a slightly better tempo to the start of the second half.
Ashley Robinson was showing some nice first touches for the Rocks in his second game for the club since his move from Bromley last week, but still neither side looked very sharp in the final third.
Chris Breach went close to putting the Rocks into the lead but headed over from a corner when well-placed.
Allan Tait, the ex-Spurs junior signed yesterday to boost the Rocks’ forward options, was brought on for his debut in place of Dodd.
Dulwich took time to find their rhythm in the second half but did have a good opening midway through which Harper did well to block.
Then it was Breach’s turn to throw his body in the way of a Dulwich shot as the Rocks defended resolutely in murky conditions.
Ashley Robinson tried a speculative shot from 35 yards which drifted wide, but the Rocks were looking lively.
The Rocks made a second change when Callum Saunders replaced Harper.
Robinson was foiled when he tried to lob the keeper after a Tait set-up as the game entered a dramatic last five minutes, and then Dulwich almost grabbed the opening goal from a corner.
Both sides had chances in the final few minutes.
For the Rocks, Robinson went close from a cheeky lob for the Rocks, James Crane saw a shot almost deflected into the path of Saunders and a late free-kick in a dangerous position was fired wide.
Rocks: Stoner, Wollers, Axten, Breach, Crane, Wills, Beck, Harper, Johnson, Dodd, Robinson. Subs: Boyle, Sackman, Tait, Saunders, Thomson.
* The Rocks host Brighton in the Sussex Senior Cup at Nyewood Lane on Wednesday evening (7.45) and entertain Corinthian Casuals in the league next Saturday.
IAN GUPPY & STEVE BONE