Worthing looked to end a six-game winless run as they traveled to Dulwich Hamlet for the first time in four-and-a-half years. The Hamlet picked up their third league win of the season on Saturday, beating Hungerford 2-1 at Champion Hill.
Danny Barker, Callum Kealy, Sammie McLeod, and Reece Meekums all returned to Adam Hinshelwood’s starting eleven for the clash in South London. Dan Bowry, Moe Shubbar, Javaun Splatt, and Mo Jammeh all dropped to the bench.
It was a quiet start to proceedings in front of the 1300-strong crowd, with both sides creating nothing more than half-chances early doors.
The hosts threatened most in the opening half-hour, through a couple of Joe Felix’s deep crosses from the right-hand side. Joe Rye was up for the task of defending Danny Mills in the air at the far post, though.
Worthing had shown glimpses of what could be achieved on the counter-attack, with captain Kane Wills driving the side forward, looking to feed the dangerous front three.
It was on the 34th minute when the Rebels made it count. The skipper Wills at the heart of the break, feeding Meekums down the left-hand side at pace. Meekums laid a cute ball inside to Ibby Akanbi who struck a powerful shot past Charlie Grainger to break the deadlock against his former club.
A positive response was shown by the Hamlet after going a goal down, but Worthing held on until the break.
It was more of the same after the interval, with Dulwich seeking the equaliser. A big chance fell to Mills just five minutes into the half as George Porter prodded it to him inside the box, but his shot was blocked brilliantly by Luca Cocorucchio and out for a corner.
Jayden Clarke had the next chance, snatching the ball off McLeod in a dangerous area. His shot was directed to the bottom-left corner, but Harrison Male made his first important save.
Clarke had another good chance some ten minutes later from a central position on the edge of the area, but his shot was deflected out for a corner this time.
Hinshelwood responded with two changes on the 65th minute. Bringing on Conrad Honore and Splatt as he looked to swing the momentum back in his favour.
Five minutes later, the Reds threatened on the counter once more. Wills, again at the heart of it, feeding through Ollie Pearce who cut inside at speed but was brought down before he could pull the trigger.
Soon after, it was Dulwich back on the attack. It was Nana Owusu’s in-swinging cross from the left that just evaded the far post and the arriving Kalvin Kalala.
Then, the best Hamlet chance of the game fell to Clarke. Cocorucchio’s challenge deflected straight back into Clarke’s path, seeing him through, one-on-one with Male, but he lifted his effort just over the crossbar.
The Clarke-Owusu combination kept threatening. With some 15-minutes left, Owusu’s effort from a tight angle narrowly missed the far post once again.
Then came the Rebels’ best chance of the second half. Quick thinking by James Beresford from a free-kick on the Worthing left. He slotted in Splatt, one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but it was a tame effort that Grainger was able to hold onto.
Dulwich replied with a free-kick of their own. From a deep position on the left, the dead-ball was floated into the box, finding substitute Vint with a free header in the area, who missed just over the crossbar.
On the brink of injury time, there was a moment of madness for Splatt. Dulwich were awarded a free-kick and Splatt picked the ball up in frustration. Dulwich skipper Jack Holland went to grab the ball from Splatt who retaliated by hitting Holland, sending him to the floor, and referee Kirsty Dowle to her back pocket.
Ten-man Rebels remained resilient for the four minutes of added time and held out for their first victory in six games.
Hinshelwood’s side return to Woodside on Saturday as they play host to Slough Town.