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Hamlet Ease Through – Rocks Leave It Late

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The Ryman League Premier Division play-off final to see who will be plying their trade in the Vanarama National League South next season will be between Bognor Regis Town and Dulwich Hamlet at Nyewood Lane on Monday.

Hamlet moved into the final with a fine 4-2 win over Enfield Town at a packed Champion Hill on Thursday night.

In front of a crowd of 2,517, Dulwich got off to the perfect start, taking the lead after just 47 seconds.

The ball was played forward to Gavin Tomlin who turned and slipped the ball through the centre of the Enfield defence. His perfectly weighted pass allowed Ibra Sekajja to fire past visiting keeper Nathan McDonald without breaking stride.

The goal was far too early to be the pivotal moment and Enfield were quickly back in the game with a series of attacks that stretched the Dulwich defence and created a number of set plays that Dulwich did well to defend.

Just coming up to the half-hour mark the crucial moments of the game were played out over a 3-minute spell. Firstly, a quick break out by Enfield in the 29th minute saw Karl Oliyide get free but his shot lacked power and Preston Edwards saved.

Then a driving run from Tomlin saw him crowded out and, when the ball fell to Nathan Green, his effort was blocked at the expense of a corner.

The resulting corner was cleared beyond the back post from where Matt Drage produced a great cross that was headed home by Sekajja to double the lead in the 31st minute.

Almost immediately from the restart a long ball from Drage released Sekajja behind the defence again and he produced an exquisite effort that was perfectly struck and sailed over McDonald to complete his hat-trick.

However, the three-goal lead lasted only 6 minutes. A corner was not properly cleared and Billy Crook fired home via a significant deflection.

Enfield continued to be dominant in the early part of the second half.

However, Dulwich got the crucial goal that re-stablished their three-goal lead in the 65th minute.

Good work between Sekajja and Tomlin gave the latter a sight of goal and he fired low past McDonald.

But Enfield would not accept their fate and, after Edwards had produced a great reflex save from sub Dernell Wynter, Dulwich were unable to clear a corner and Harry Ottaway fired home the loose ball.

Although there were still 5 minutes remaining, Dulwich held firm and sealed their trip to the Sussex coast on Bank Holiday Monday.

Bognoe entertained a Wingate & Finchley side who only just managed to scrape into the top five on the final day of the regular season.

But the Rocks, who only missed out on the championship when losing to Havant & Waterlooville over Easter, left it very, very late to claim their spot in Monday`s season finale.

In front of a crowd of 1,001, Ollie Pearce became the home hero on the night.

It was all Bognor early on and they went close to taking the lead on several occasions, with Alex Parsons particularly prominent.

But the visitors were growing into the game and ex-Rocks winger Walter Figuiera forced Dan Lincoln into the night’s first serious save with a decent shot from outside the area.

There was a bright start to the second half by Bognor and an attack ended with Jimmy Muitt curling an ambitious shot just high and wide.

And the positive opening to the half paid dividends 5 minutes in when Parsons was sent racing clear down the right and, with the Rocks outnumbering the visiting defence, he squared it to the unmarked Pearce, who finished coolly past Wingate `keeper Shane Gore.

Ollie Pearce celebrates (Photo: Stephen Goodger)

At the other end, Lincoln he had to get down sharply to keep out an Ahmet Rifat shot from 18 yards, and Bognor went close on 70 minutes when Pearce got in and tried to cut it back for Wild.

However, 5 minutes from time the home crowd were silenced when Clausio Vilcu was fouled inside the box as he shaped to shoot and Sean Cronin stepped up to send Lincoln the wrong way from the resulting penalty.

It looked like extra-time was a certainty, but with literally the last attack of the game, Bognor grabbed the winner.

Dylan Barnett crossed for Pearce to side-foot home at the far post to signal wild celebrations both on and off the field.

There was only just time for Wingate to kick off before the referee`s whistle signalled the end of the game and a place for Bognor Regis in Monday`s final.

And incredibly, it will be the fourth time the Rocks and Dulwich have faced each other in a play-off in the past seven seasons!

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