Dulwich Hamlet comprehensively thumped Merstham 4-1 on their wobbly pitch last night, shimmying the south Londoners to third place in the table with a guaranteed play off place now tantalisingly close.
Established in 1892, Merstham are a friendly and modest kind of club, with attendances normally swaying around the 150 mark.
However, this season the club enjoyed their best-ever FA Cup run, reaching the first round proper where they lost to League One opponents Oxford United 0-5, racking up a record attendance of 1,920.
It seems they weren’t so prepared for the 200 or so travelling Hamlet fans last night, with a sizeable queue outside the ground five minutes after the match had started.
I arrived just as Dulwich scored their first, with Gavin Tomlin firing home.
A Merstham pooch.
Some nicely folded plastic sheeting.
Merstham’s ground is as green and verdant as you might expect for deepest Surrey. Such is the polite atmosphere here, I felt a bit guilty for singing too loudly at first!
The Hamlet massive.
Dulwich totally dominated the game, more or less from start to finish, although Merstham put some good moves together from time to time.
Not many takers for the Albury End.
A nest of nets.
The home keeper, Yannick Makiese, was kept busy all night and made one or two cracking saves.
I loved this wooden pavilion.
The sun goes down over Moatside.
This photo is for aficionados of Obscure Non League Ground Bits’n’Bob.
Back of the guv’nors bonce.
The PA was comically bad, spitting out supremely distorted messages that could have been about anything: football, incoming nuclear strikes, alien communications or the latest Radiohead tune.
Taking it easy.
Aunty Claire was nowhere to be seen last night. I hope she’s OK.
Half time: Merstham 0 Hamlet 1.
The grass was so lush behind the goal I was almost tempted to roll around in it.
Gaze your peepers on this fine vintage roller, made by Ransomes, Sims and Jeffries Limited, once a major British agricultural machinery maker based in Ipswich, Suffolk.
Formed from a 1789 enterprise, the company’s portfolio included traction engines, trolleybuses, ploughs, lawn mowers, combine harvesters and heavy iron work for astronomical telescopes, mountings, and observatories. The company became defunct in 1998. [—]
Having a solitary half time snack.
Stairway to Heaven. Or a cheap plastic chair.
Proud badge wearer.
The queue for the refreshments stretched into infinity and beyond.
Condiment table action shot.
Very much against the run of the play, Merstham conspired to equalise 2 minutes after the second half had started. 1-1.
The loneliness of the roof-located cameraman.
Taking in the action.
“I’m hearing only bad news from Radio Merstham…”
While I was waiting in the Queue O’Eternity for the chips, Gavin Tomlin restored Hamlet’s lead with a well taken strike. 1-2 to Hamlet.
Double thumbs up!
Four minutes later – and me still stuck in the flaming refreshments queue – Hamlet made it 1-3, courtesy of Marc Weatherstone’s noggin.
— Louise (@LouiseLFC81) April 11, 2017
Who doesn’t love a non-league shed? Not me, that’s for sure. I can’t get enough of then.
The Hamlet crowd was impressive for a Tuesday night.
With ten minutes on the clock, Michael Chambers made it 1-4 to Hamlet.
Hamlet threatened until the end, but the score remained 1-4 at full time.
I think he’s happy.
On the Hamlet forum, PP added his report:
A second comprehensive victory over Merstham inside a calendar month. I always feel confident against teams like this, as they try to take us on at our own attractive attacking game, and they simply aren’t in the same class. We have far more difficulty against sides that try to stifle and negate us with pressing tactics in the middle third.
As in the 5-0 win at home, Hamlet took an early lead. Dumaka shrugged off a vigorous attempt to pull him back from behind (which the linesman flagged for – take note last Satruday’s linesmen) but the referee played a good advantage as he accelerated into the box and squared the ball for Tomlin to slam into the roof of the net from three yards out at the far post.
Hamlet dominated the rest of the half with a number of chances missed, one good save from the keeper to tip away a Chambers header, and a very obvious penalty decision bottled by the referee following a clear trip on Clunis; a looping header over the bar provided the only real threat from the hosts.
For the fourth time in the last five matches Hamlet conceded inside the first five minutes of the second half after leading at the break. It’s almost as if the half time team talk concludes with the words “just go out there and forget all about the things you were doing right in the first half”.
Our former player Dean McDonald unlocked the right side of our defence on the counter-attack and passed inside for a team-mate to fire past an exposed Wilson.
The game appeared in the balance of the next ten minutes or so with the play switching rapidly from one end to the other, and former Hamlet hero Xavier Vidal went close with a 20 yard free kick that grazed the outside of the near post. Just before the hour Hamlet regained the lead when Tomlin was sent clear on the right, cut in behind the Merstham backline, and fired hard and low through the keeper’s legs from a narrow angle.
Five minutes later Hamlet landed the decisive blow when a corner flighted into the middle of the box was powerfully headed home by Weatherstone. One further goal followed with ten minutes to go when another corner was headed back by Chambers at the far post, then crossed back into the middle for Chambers to find the net with a downward header inside the opposite corner.
Saturday’s unexpected deployment of Tomlin in almost a sweeper role ahead of the back three was abandoned, as our leading scorer was restored to the front two while Camara made his first full league appearance in Carew’s usual position.
He looks like a player who hasn’t really been coached a lot and does a lot of unpredictable things off the cuff that sometimes cost us possession, but there’s plenty of raw talent there and a natural athleticism that enables him to retain the ball under pressure and whisk it away from opponents who are left trailing in his wake.
Team: (3-4-1-2): Wilson – Weatherstone, Drage, Chambers – Clunis, Kargbo, Beaney(c), Green – Camara – Dumaka, Tomlin. Subs: Sekajja (for Dumaka), Akinyemi (for Tomlin), Carew (for Beaney), Ming, Taylor, (not used). Attendance: 336
With just three games to go, Dulwich are strongly positioned to secure a play off place, helped by Leiston only managing a home 2-2 draw last night.
Get behind the Hamlet!
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- Dulwich Hamlet FC songbook – the great chants from Champion Hill
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