Dulwich Hamlet 1-2 Leiston - It wasn't going to be our day, admits title-chasing Gavin Rose
Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 13th January 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Champion Hill Stadium
DULWICH HAMLET manager Gavin Rose says his side can gate-crash the two horse title race despite missing their chance to close the gap.
The Hamlet went into the game on a run of six league wins on the bounce but they came up against a resilient Leiston team that held on to claim their sixth league win on their travels.
The Suffolk side took an early lead following a swift three-man move, which was swept home by striker Danny Block, who was later forced off through injury.
But Dulwich Hamlet equalised through Xavier Vidal’s eighth goal of the season before half-time, before goalkeeper Phil Wilson was credited with an own-goal to help Leiston grab the three points that puts them in seventh-place in the Ryman Premier League table with 46 points from 27 games.
Dulwich Hamlet’s fifth league defeat of the season leaves them in third-place in the table on 55 points from 28 games, four points adrift of both Maidstone United and Margate.
“I thought we’d probably win the game in terms of chances,” admitted Rose, 38, afterwards.
“We had a lot more chances than they did, but we didn’t convert them. Pretty similar story to what we generally have during the season. We always create a lot of chances but we need to turn them into goals but that’s how it goes.
“I thought Leiston came here and worked hard and they were tactically sound but having said that I still thought we probably should have nicked a few goals and won the game.”
Leiston created only four goalscoring chances, the first coming inside the opening three minutes and fifteen seconds.
Craig Parker swept the ball out wide to Darren Mills, who floated over a cross towards the far post where Tom Winter slid his shot past the near post.
Dulwich Hamlet’s first shot on target arrived within two minutes when Ashley Carew played the ball out wide to impressive right-winger Luke Wanadio, who drilled a low right-footed angled drive towards goal from 18-yards, forcing keeper Danny Gay to make a smart low save to his right.
Rose was clearly impressed with former Hampton & Richmond Borough winger Wanadio, who was the best player on the pitch.
He said: “Luke’s came in around a month ago, he’s very good. He’s created lots of chances for us as a team and he’s also created chances for himself. He works really hard for the team as well so he’s a good addition to us. In the big games he always gives us a chance to turn the screw.”
But Leiston ventured forward in devastating fashion by taking the lead with eight minutes and 11 seconds on the clock.
Scott Mitchell, who was protecting his back four at the time, clipped a sublime long diagonal pass down the left for Winter to bring the ball down expertly with his chest before clipping a cross into the penalty area for Block to sweep his first time left-footed shot high to Wilson’s left and into the far corner of the net from 12-yards.
Rose admitted afterwards that he was not best pleased with his two right-sided defenders that led to the opening goal.
“Hibbert switched off from a long ball. The ball went round the back. Bad defending from the left to be honest with you. The boy’s gone bind him, Terrell’s had to come across to try to block and shot and he’s cut it back and the boy’s scored so fair play to them.
“They didn’t have to earn their corn to score the goal and from us it’s a very bad defensive goal.
“I don’t have the stats but I don’t remember them having many chances. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. They maybe have had two or three chances and scored two goals.”
Dulwich Hamlet forced Gay into action after thirteen minutes when Ashley Carew swept the ball out wide to left-back Frazer Shaw, who cut in and whipped in a teasing low cross which the keeper did well to dive full-length to his left to push away towards safety.
Dulwich Hamlet’s flag waving fans saw Carew sting Gay’s fingers with a right-footed free-kick which sailed over the five-man wall, 25-yards from goal.
Rose added: “Ashley’s been good on dead-ball set-pieces. He’s been very good. Normally makes the keeper work so we’re happy with him.
“It’s just one of those days. It weren’t going to be our night in terms of converting our chances!”
Leiston then soaked up the pressure and frustrated their hosts, who had to wait towards the end of the half for their next opportunity.
They had a period of possession in and around their own half and Terrell Forbes clipped the ball forward up to striker Harry Ottaway, who turned and cracked a right-footed shot which sailed over the crossbar from 25-yards.
But Dulwich Hamlet deservedly equalised in the 39th minute, following their fifth (of seven) corners.
Shaw cut a left-wing corner back to Carew, who rolled the ball inside to Vidal, who drilled a deflected right-footed drive into the bottom right-hand corner from 25-yards.
Reflecting on the deflected strike, Rose said: “Yes, we’ll take them. We know he’s got a good strike on the edge of the box. We built the play up well. They’ve not come out to shut him down quickly enough so he’s hit the target, which is good.”
The closest that Leiston got to taking the lead came from a sliced clearance from Dulwich Hamlet skipper Forbes, which dipped and narrowly cleared the top right-hand corner of his own goal.
Reflecting on the first half, Rose said: “I thought we started slowly to be honest with you. I thought before they scored their goal we were very, very slow. We got better as the half went on and we did get back into the game with Xavier’s finish but I thought we started slowly in the first ten minutes and I weren’t happy with that!”
Leiston created a half-chance inside the opening two minutes of the second half but Block’s left-footed shot deflected into Wilson’s gloves after Stuart Broadley’s free-kick from the half-way line fell at his feet.
Seconds later, Dulwich Hamlet went close when holding midfielder Jack Dixon released Wanadio, who reached the right by-line before cutting the ball behind Ottaway, who did well to steer his shot towards the far corner from 12-yards, which was gobbled up by the diving Gay.
But Rose was unhappy with the way that Leiston stole the victory in the 56th minute.
Substitute Danny Cunningham whipped in a corner from the right and central midfielder Craig Parker was allowed to plant his free header towards goal from eight-yards.
The ball clipped the underside of the crossbar and bounced down off Wilson’s back and crossed the line to go down as an own-goal from Hamlet’s current longest serving player.
“It’s a free header at the end of the day in the six-yard box so I think the boys all know that’s indefensible,” complained Rose.
“Again, two goals that they’ve not really had to do much to earn. It’s quite soft from us, which is not been how we’ve been over the last two months but it’s something that we have to reflect on.”
Dulwich Hamlet dominated the rest of the game, with Leiston parking the bus in front of goal.
Ottaway lost an aerial challenge inside the Leiston penalty area and the ball came out to Vidal, who drilled a first time shot with his right-foot from 18-yards, which flashed agonisingly past the foot of the right-hand post.
Carew then clipped a ball into Leiston’s penalty area and Vidal’s shot was blocked by Gay, diving to his left, but Vidal lost his composure and blasted his volley high over the bar from close range from a tight-angle on the hour-mark.
It proved to be a costly miss from the talented midfielder.
Rose said: “We had a few opportunities straight after the goal that maybe on another day he scores – but went close.
“At the end of the day he was there to take the shots and it missed by a few inches.
“The rebound, he’s thought about smashing it in and maybe in hindsight he’ll just stroke the ball in the net but at the end of the day we’re happy and encouraged he was in those areas.”
Man-of-the-match Wanadio’s pace caused Leiston problems and Dulwich Hamlet went close following a sweeping move, involving Ottaway, substitute Kevin James and Carew, which resulted in Wanadio being denied on the angle by a parry from the Leiston keeper.
Former Bromley winger Albert Jarrett was providing the ammunition as substitute down the left wing, but it was evident that it wasn’t going to be Dulwich Hamlet’s day, as seven red-shirts lingering in and around the Leiston penalty box on more than one occasion.
When asked about Jarrett and James’s contributions as substitute for the final twenty minutes, Rose replied: “They gave us a little bit of impetus trying to get bodies forward a little bit quicker and I thought they done that but the ball was just not running for us in the last third. Unfortunately we couldn’t capitalise and get a goal.”
Reflecting on Leiston’s park-the-bus tactics, Rose added: “Oh well. It’s happened a few times down here but they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do to get a result.
"No-one’s going to read that when they look at the results tomorrow so they’re just going to see the result was 2-1 and rightly so.
“We’re not criticising the way that Leiston approached the game because it’s our job to combat all types of formations.”
Gay came off his line to smother at Ottaway’s feet after Wanadio’s shot came in from the right.
Wanadio’s angled drive flashed agonisingly across goal and past the far post from eighteen-yards as time ticked by.
Jarrett’s skill outdone Leiston right-back Leon Ottley-Gooch, before he whipped in a brilliant cross towards the near post but Ottaway sent his downward header agonisingly wide.
Rose admitted: “It wasn’t going to be our day. You could see that with the chances that we had. On another day we might create a lot less chances and still win so you know in football these days come and you get on with it!”
Wilson crossed the halfway line in an attempt to make amends but didn’t join his team-mates inside the Leiston box for Jarrett’s last-gasp corner, which saw Forbes rise highest but the former Dover Athletic defender couldn’t steer his header into the back of the net.
Rose takes his side to second-placed Margate on Saturday, with both sides suffering five league defeats so far this season.
“Still really early days, there’s a lot of football to be played,” said Rose.
“The game against Margate is obviously an important game but it’s not the be all and end all.
“We’re in a good run of form, regardless of this result, we’re in a good vein of form so we’ll give it a good game down there and see how it goes.”
Dulwich Hamlet are still in with a chance of winning the Ryman Premier League title.
Rose agrees, saying, “I don’t’ see why not! We’ve got a good squad so I don’t see why we can’t make it difficult for those two boys at the top.
“We’ve got good quality and a good team spirit.
“For us to get into the play-offs this year it will be a bonus because it’s one better than we did last year (finishing sixth) so if we gate-crash the two boys at the top then not everyone’s going to be happy really.”
Reflecting on league leaders Maidstone United, Rose said: “Maidstone have got a decent points tally with games-in-hand so they can afford to drop a few points and stuff like that.
“Margate have maybe dropped a few again but again they had a good points tally so I think they’ve maybe used up a little bit of their lives and look to start a run again.
“I’m expecting a good crowd, a hard-fought game (at Margate), two teams who will respect each other, probably go down to the wire.
“We’re doing ok. We’re doing alright. We feel that as a club we’re heading in the right direction and we’ve got a good group of players that we feel can continue to progress.
“We’re happy with the boys that we’ve got in the dressing room. They’re honest lads, they want to do well for themselves and for the club.”
Dulwich Hamlet: Phil Wilson, Jordan Hibbert (Albert Jarrett 70), Frazer Shaw, Jack Dixon (Kevin James 70),Terrell Forbes, Ethan Pinnock, Nyren Clunis, Ashley Carew, Harry Ottaway, Xavier Vidal, Luke Wanadio.
Subs: Michael Kamara, Kershaney Samuels, Mu Maan
Goal: Xavier Vidal 39
Leiston: Danny Gay, Leon Ottley-Gooch, Stuart Boardley, Scott Mitchell, Joe Jefford, Tom Bullard, Darren Mills (Josh Merritt 90), Gareth Heath, Danny Block (Danny Cunningham 54), Craig Parker, Tom Winter.
Subs: Toby Kerslake, Joe Francis, Alex Rossis
Goals: Danny Block 9, Phil Wilson 56 (own goal)
Referee: Mr Wade Norcott (Harlow, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Pasquale Acierno (Winchmore Hill, London N21) & Mr Lee Brennan (Palmers Green, London N13)