'King' Paul Doswell gets his crowning moment at Dulwich Hamlet as Hawks maintain late season play-off charge

Paul Doswell heaped praise on the 'unity' Hawks showed as they kept themselves in the hunt to secure a National League South play-off finish with a crucial win at Dulwich Hamlet.

By Lewis Mason
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 2:08 pm

Manny Duku's fine solo effort seven minutes after the break - his second strike in six appearances since joining the club last month - proved decisive as 11th-placed Hawks claimed a 1-0 triumph to move to within five points of the division's top-seven.

Doswell has enjoyed quite the turnaround in recent weeks, with his troops collecting three wins and a draw in their past four outings - taking 10 points from a possible 12 on offer in that period.

Prior to that, Hawks' season had looked to be heading for an under-whelming conclusion after a run of just two victories in 13 league fixtures, which included a nine-game winless run.

Some section of the club's supporters were beginning to become disgruntled - particularly with boss Doswell, however, the current mood around the camp was summed up perfectly with the Hawks boss captured celebrating with some of the sizeable away following at Dulwich at full-time with a king crown placed on his head by one of the supporters!

‘There was no Ross Worner (at Dulwich), Jake McCarthy (had) sickness and diarrhoea (both ruled out). We lost Ross and Jake before kick-off,’ Doswell told The News.

‘Charlie Searle came in and was magnificent and the young kid from Aldershot (Ben Shroll) came in at centre-half, which is not easy to do against Dulwich who are decent in the forward areas, everyone showed good unity. There's always been a good team spirit but we're getting rewarded now with those wins.

‘At the end of the day, supporters want to see their team winning and we weren't winning. Particularly the Oxford City game - I think emotions took over for everyone. I think since then, even at the Concord game, the away supporters have stuck with us.

Hawks boss Paul Doswell, far right, with a king crown placed on his head, enjoys the Dulwich Hamlet win with some of the away following Picture: Dave Haines

‘It's almost like everyone has been like, 'let's stick together,' obviously we've now won three and drawn one of our last four.’

Chances arrived at both ends but it was Duku's 52nd-minute strike which would prove telling. Hawks, with goalkeeper Charlie Searle coming in at late notice to replace Ross Worner - ruled out with a neck injured - broke the deadlock when Duku managed to neatly finish after a lung-busting run from his own half.

Yet while Hawks have managed to turn things around of late, Doswell insisted he's not getting too carried away just yet in terms of the play-offs ahead of another key battle - this time at home to 10th-placed Hungerford on Wednesday.

He added: ‘We felt we needed 10 wins (to reach play-offs) - we need another seven wins we suspect from the 11 (games) that we've got.

Goalkeeper Charlie Searle heads over to the visiting Hawks following after the victory at Dulwich Hamlet Picture: Dave Haines

‘I think Wednesday (at home to Hungerford) is massive, I've got to be honest, if we can win then we're into real momentum there.

‘Listen, we're not really getting too excited just yet, I think if we can get a win against Hungerford, we're looking at six wins from 10 then it starts to become a little bit more realistic, maybe.’

Bandaged Manny Duku heads off to celebrate his winner at Dulwich Hamlet Picture: Dave Haines
Supporters travelled in their numbers to see Hawks' victory at Dulwich Hamlet Picture: Dave Haines