BY SAM SMITH
Ten-man Dulwich Hamlet threatened an incredible comeback but were eventually beaten 4-3 at Eastbourne Borough in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup.
The hosts needed just five minutes to take the lead. A long ball forward was misjudged by Michael Chambers, and Alfie Rutherford’s deflected strike beat Preston Edwards.
The Sports’ skipper Sergio Torres had a second disallowed after he had strayed offside before sliding under Edwards.
But Eastbourne soon doubleD their advantage through a stunning strike from Ryan Hall. The former Crystal Palace man picked up a loose ball in midfield and struck a powerful drive into the top corner from 25 yards.
The task of coming back was then made all but impossible for Dulwich – who ceased to create anything of note until late in the first half – when Michael Chambers’ clumsy challenge allowed Dean Cox to convert from the penalty spot on 29 minutes.
Hamlet were reduced to 10 men as their afternoon continued to capsize. Winger Iffy Allen’s dangerous two-footed lunge on Cox gave referee Wayne Cartmel no option but to send off the former Bromley man.
Hall soon added a fourth two minutes before the break – meandering into the penalty area before tucking past Edwards.
Nyren Clunis created the South Londoners’ first notable chance on 70 minutes when he tricked his way down the right wing but his excellent cross somehow evaded the outstretched leg of Nathan Ferguson.
But suddenly the game changed. Dipo Akinyemi turned home Ferguson’s corner to score what appeared a consolation, but then Clunis got in behind the Eastbourne back four to slide in a second.
A third followed; Kingsley Eshun burst through to slot into the bottom corner and somehow Gavin Rose’s side were a goal away from a remarkable comeback.
But for all they tried, the fourth ceased to arrive and Dulwich were forced to rue a woeful first half performance that cost them a place in the next round.
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