Dulwich Hamlet 1 – 4 Wealdstone
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This was it. This was the day that it all came together for Wealdstone with their most complete performance of the season against a very good Dulwich side that will undoubtedly be in the mix come the end of the current campaign.
Whilst the sublime performance of the ageless Glen Little will rightly take the immediate headlines, this was a wonderful all round team performance where everyone played their full part in a memorable victory in front of an expectant and hugely vociferous crowd, bolstered immensely by 220 travelling Stones fans.
Little’s first goal was outstanding but his second effort a few minutes before half time was of an astonishing quality and befitting of the Premiership from whence the big man plied his trade so successfully. But vital goals from Luke Pigden – his first for the club – and veteran striker Scott McGleish were just as significant at critical junctures of this pulsating match. Elliott Godfrey in particular produced an outstanding performance chasing down everything in the middle.
Wealdstone knew all about the way that The Hamlet play and devised a game plan that absorbed inevitable pressure but allowed them to break effectively when the opportunity arose. It worked a treat but not without some scares along the way.
Dulwich were almost unplayable for the first 20 minutes playing some neat, controlled possession football from the back line right through to their tricky forwards and most threateningly from their diminutive top scorer Erhun Oztumer. But Stones defence held firm with Sean Cronin and Tom Hamblin superb in centre whilst Jerome Okimo and James Hammond’s pace in the full back positions kept the Hamlet’s wide men at bay.
After a couple of chances that fell to Oztumer where Jonathan North had to be on high alert, Scott McGleish got into a typically great position but he was crowded out and the opportunity went
Dean Lodge for the home side broke forward dangerously but decided to go it alone when Oztumer would have been the better option.
Wealdstone, having weathered the Hamlet storm, began to look more threatening as an incisive break saw Peter Adeniyi deflect a dangerous cross over his own crossbar and then a Stones shot was just about cleared off the goal line. The game turned in the 34th minute as a great cross delivered by Little was met by Luke Pigden who had leapt superbly and his effort looped over keeper Phil Wilson into the far corner.
A mere three minutes later it was 2-0. The away side stormed forward and Little floated a lovely effort from the left over Wilson and into the far corner to stun Dulwich. But worse was to come for the boys in pink when right on half-time Little produced his astonishing run and finish that started deep in his own half. As the big man advanced inside the Dulwich half he seemed to have been closed down, but twisting and turning past defenders with deft control and balance he produced the most sublime finish with a delightful chip over the advancing Wilson sending the away contingent into ecstasy.
The Hamlet came out for the second period fired up and ready to hit back from the shock blitzing of the first period and with only 2 minutes of the half gone Oztumer poked a shot past the dive of North sending alarm bells ringing. Dulwich now pushed forward with some purpose and Lodge combined with Kevin James but his shot was off target. Oztumer went close, Nyren Clunis had an effort blocked and Ian Daly forced a great full length save from North.
A second goal would have really put Dulwich back in the game but instead it was McGleish who effectively killed the game as a real contest as he arrived in space to head home from close range following a super cross from Tom Pett from the left on 74 minutes.
Stones brought on all three substitutes as the clock ran down and Peter Dean further stretched the home defence in the closing minutes and was unlucky to be called back for offside when he netted.
Stones are back in action at The Vale on Tuesday evening when they entertain Uxbridge in the Middlesex Senior Cup.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond, Okimo, Hamblin, Cronin, Godfrey, Little, Pigden, McGleish, Wright, Pett. Subs used: Dean, Bailey, Moore. N/u: Bentley, Siva.
Steve Foster Pics HERE
By Nick DuGard