DOMINEERING DULWICH PLUCK OFF STRUGGLING SWANS
Dulwich continued where they left off on Saturday with a fine victory at Walton & Hersham’s Stompond Lane keeping up their excellent record on their opponents' ground of late. Having spurned an early penalty at the weekend Dulwich made no mistake with one of their opportunities of the game. Right from the off the ball was swung out to Ellis Green, his cross from the left flank met by Kevin James, a glancing header forcing former Hamlet custodian Sheikh Ceesay to shovel the ball around his back stick. Though the resultant corner was at first cleared, the ball was pumped back in through the corridor of uncertainty and, with the home defence looking shaky, Josh Turner arrived at the back of the box to slam the ball home.
Then, just three minutes later, the hosts’ ranks were decimated as right back Chris Wales through himself into a reckless challenge for the ball. Peter Adeniyi managed to leap out of Wales’ flight path but Green was not so lucky, laid out as Wales caught him high on the leg. The look of shock on Wales’s face was clear for all to see and it came as no surprise when the red card was brandished.
The benefit of the extra man gave Hamlet the opportunity to lay their wares on the table, playing intricate passes and getting the best out of the Stompond Lane pitch before the winter weather would begin to take its toll. Yet despite this Dulwich failed to rub home their advantage. Nyren Clunis lashed high over the bar after lingering unmarked on the edge of the area, meeting a pulled back corner with a fierce drive. Bagatelle in the box as a low cross from the left was somehow blocked at point blank range not one but twice by Ceesay before Adeniyi’s effort from six yards clipped a defender’s foot to crack back from the upright.
Chances not taken the threat always remained that the ten man Swans might wheedle their way back into the game. Main man Phil Williams on the wing was getting little change out of Kalvin Morath-Gibbs despite some mercurial incursions and so it was left to the old school method to pose the Swans few true threats of a middling 45 minutes. A dozen or so minutes left of the half and Dean Carpenter left his mark on Josh Bonnett with a meaty challenge that saw him booked much to the chagrin of the home bench, who demanded blood and a card of a different colour. Nothing subtle too about the free kick that followed as Dan Dean’s booming ICBM of a delivery found Aaron Nowacki out-leaping the covering defender to loop a header just a smidgeon over Phil Wilson’s crossbar.
What seemed a forlorn chase for a long ball deep into the far corner almost brought about a second for the Hamlet, James’ pull back met by Clunis, a low shot skidding past Ceesay’s right hand upright. Yet again Walton threatened with the big ball of Dean, his delivery from an identikit free kick met by Nowacki, this time on target but nonchalantly plucked out of the air by the big man Wilson.
Seven minutes into the second half, Dulwich doubled their lead as the home defence was caught napping by Green’s laser guided low in swinger from the left, Morath-Gibbs stretching out a leg to get a telling touch and send the ball spinning past a statuesque Ceesay and into the far corner of the net.
Instantly the Swans’ boss Chuck Martini made a double swap pulling off midfielders Bonnett and Jerome Maledon, bringing on Ashley Quashie and young offensive talent, Harold Odametey. The changes seem to give the hoists new impetus and though half time replacement Carl Wilson-Denis was adeptly denied by Ceesay at close range, it was the host who should have chalked up the next goal. On 66 minutes Dulwich’s underemployed defence seemed to take French leave, all-a-dither as Williams capitalised, slipping the ball round a prostrate Wilson but somehow managing to slam his shot against the upright when scoring seemed a doddle. It would come back to haunt the hosts as Dulwich bagged a third not long after. Once more a rapier like attack down the left and low ball into the box, this time intercepted by the distending Dean but only to divert the ball straight to Vernon Francis lurking on the penalty spot, a blazing first time drive leaving the net billowing once more.
Confusion reigned supreme as Dulwich were first denied then awarded a spot kick seven minutes from the end. Challenging for whipped cross in from the left, Wilson-Denis found himself tugged from behind. A tad timorously the assistant flag fluttered in his hand. After a momentary period of doubt, the man in black was persuaded to consult with his assistant whilst, as they discoursed, Wilson-Denis was already marching purposefully to the penalty spot clutching the ball. He was in the right place when officialdom agreed, the kick was awarded and Wilson-Denis did the honours with a proficient finish for Hamlet’s fourth.
A late spark of light in the gathering gloom for Walton as substitute Harry Smart set up an opening for Graeme Purdy, slipping the ball through to him, a muscular shot on the run bringing the best out of Wilson as he battered the ball behind but all for naught.