BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Dulwich Hamlet are in the National League South play-off hunt with eight matches remaining – and manager Gavin Rose reckons that anyone connected to the club would have been happy with that scenario before the season started.
The South Londoners ended a three-match losing streak as former Crystal Palace striker Ibra Sekajja scored late on in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Slough Town.
Dulwich were promoted from the Isthmian League Premier Division in May 2018 but have seen the past two campaigns wrecked by the Covid-19 pandemic.
And Rose, who has been Hamlet boss since 2009, reckons it is difficult to talk about how Hamlet’s spending power compares with some of their promotion rivals.
“Not many say what their budgets are,” he told the South London Press. “You can speculate when you look at the players they have, but it’s quite difficult because I’ve got some who are getting paid less than what other people probably expect.
“It’s a conversation that probably isn’t good to get into. I know we’re not top seven and we have the most organic income stream in the league by far – in terms of our crowd.”
Dulwich had an attendance of 2,705 at Champion Hill last weekend. Their average this season is 2,648 – putting them top of National League South gates, ahead of the likes of Maidstone (2,174), Dartford (1,315) and Ebbsfleet United (1,310).
“There is no other real investment apart from sponsorship and the crowd,” said Rose. “Other clubs do have other income streams, including investment from owners and boards.
“It is a bit different but we started off with a very, very nervous approach this season because we didn’t know if the supporters would be in and what that would look like.
“We went for a very small squad and tried to build from there.
“The difficulty we found is that when we started off in that vein, after the squad has taken shape, once you try and add to it then you’re in a bit of a funny position.
“We are what we are and we knew what our constraints were this year. We’ve coped well with it and the squad has coped well with it.
“Hopefully we can push on for the last eight games and get in the play-offs. Once we’re there, our job is to try and get the club promoted.
“We need perspective. On the balance of play throughout the season, we feel we’re a few places lower than we should be.
“We’ve dropped points we shouldn’t have done and only have ourselves to blame for that. But the reality is that if we’d been told at the start of the season that we were in the top seven [after Saturday’s results] with eight matches to play then you wouldn’t knock it away.
“The main goal was to get in the play-offs. We’ve got a lot to play for with eight games to go – that’s the perspective we have got in our dressing room and that’s all that matters.”
Dulwich will be without defender Tyrone Sterling, away on international duty with Grenada, for tomorrow’s match at Concord Rangers.
Ronnie Vint is banned after receiving a second yellow card late on against Slough.
“It was a pretty poor decision from the referee,” said Rose.
Striker Deon Moore joined Chelmsford City on loan last weekend and Rose was not ruling out other player movement before last night’s transfer deadline.
“If players are coming in to help then we probably need to let one or two go on loan as well,” he said.
Rose admitted the Slough fixture was far from a classic.
“Maybe the last six, seven or eight games have been much tighter because of the stage of the season we are at,” he said. “Teams are playing for something – either to get in the play-offs or stay in the league.
“That has made the matches a lot cagier. That is never going to make them a top spectacle.
“We definitely had the better chances and probably should’ve scored one or two in the first half. Reise Allassani hit the post in the second half and then the first time we switched off defensively from the front – because we had defended well from the front – they were able to penetrate us down the side and score.
“It was against the run of play and gave us an uphill struggle. We didn’t really create many chances after that until the last five minutes.
“I’m grateful Ibra stepped up to score from a Danny Mills’ knockdown. It was a nice, clever finish.”
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