Dulwich 1 – 0 Leatherhead

I love a midweek game, under the lights.

Which is handy, since they’re the only games I can make at the moment.

Ah, Leatherhead! How long we’ve waited to exact our revenge, for that ignominious defeat you tricked us into, two weeks ago at Fetcham Grove.

Our mercurial brilliance was blunted that night by your secret weapon: the town of Leatherhead itself, which bores teams into submission. But last night, on the hallowed Champion Hill turf, and in the eyes of the transpontine republic, dandies swaggered, wingers ran rampant, Ronnie O’Sullivan slayed Stephen O’Hendry.

The universe demanded that balance be restored, and the Hamlet answered its call.

Well, alright, we won 1-0.

But it should have been more. The match took a little bit of warming up, with both teams struggling to carve out any clear-cut chances. I thought we were putting more pressure on them overall, but a number of times we needed someone to take command in the attacking midfield area, so that our wingers’ efforts wouldn’t come to nought. It was width, however, that was to prove crucial in changing the nature of the game.

The right wing in particular was soon to open up. Matty D. Rage kept bombing up there, and gave us a lot of drive down that side. Being a newb, I’d only really taken note of Drage’s defensive game so far, and I was quite impressed by his willingness to keep running deep into the attacking half with the ball at his feet.

Drage’s efforts were matched by another player, whose sheer brilliance was about to be revealed.

Rhys Murrell-Williamson is a Hayes and Yeading United player. Without knowing the circumstances under which he was allowed by that club to go out on loan, I’ll assume they are either mad, or they have just signed Gareth Bale.

RMW was a joy to watch, constantly running at the opposition, putting in crosses that deserved to be converted into goals, and, most significantly of all, dancing through defenders with ease and scoring his second goal in his second game. He was a constant threat, and Leatherhead’s manager, Richard Brady, made changes at half time to nullify his pace. There didn’t seem to be much difference to his game in the second half, though. If anything, things got worse for Leatherhead, as Nyren Clunis grew into the game and made more of an impact after the interval.

Clunis has been my favourite player so far watching Dulwich, burning down the wing and putting crosses in for fun. Last night, in the first half, he seemed to spend more time running ahead of the game, anticipating the pass, rather than pulling the game forward with the ball at his feet. A couple of times it nearly came off, although he perhaps needs to watch his positioning a bit more, when looking to receive the ball, and make sure he doesn’t get caught offside. You can’t have too much of a moan about that, as it’s often the hallmark of a player with the hunger that bags goals. He’s obviously a different kind of player entirely, but watching him last night reminded me a bit of Jermaine Defoe. Well, not quite. Defoe gets tent pegs and a cold can of baked beans out whenever he’s offside.

In the second half Clunis was all over them, and he was really unlucky to hit the crossbar. He’s been the creative force behind a number of Hamlet goals already this season, and he’s clearly eager to start getting his own name on the scoresheet. He deserved that one to go in last night. We seemed to be edging closer and closer in the second half to another goal, but it never came.

Leatherhead were awful. I mean, truly shit.

Nah, not really, they were alright. They’ve looked a utilitarian side both times I’ve watched them play, and last night they didn’t force enough out of Phil Wilson. They were a tough team to play still, and I’d expect them to come out of the little rut they’re in soon and start picking up results. They were quite good at obstinately ploughing their way through our midfield at times, which arguably could be read as “our midfield was pushed around a bit too easily”, I’m not sure. But once they’d got to that point, they didn’t do enough to deserve a point from the game.

In my burgeoning familiarity with the Hamlet team, I thought Charlie Penny again really put himself about a lot. He’s a lively player who seems to leap his own body height for the ball, and run with boundless energy. He’s obviously at a disadvantage in aerial duels though, and he couldn’t get on the end of any crosses to ping it into the net. It looked to my layman’s eye like he was sufficiently irritating for Leatherhead’s defence, without ever really making the kind of impact he’d be looking for.

There were other half-baked observations, forming in my Dissident-soaked brain, but who knows whether they were legitimate conclusions? Probably not.

Probably none of the above was, either. I do know that it was handy having the Cherry Tree open again, for a quick pint after getting the train down from London Bridge, and that the bloke who recently renamed his chippie “Dulwich Hamlet Fish Bar” is a bit of a laugh. Also, when the Rabble sang “We hate Tooting and Mitcham, we hate Leatherhead too. LEICESTER!” a bunch of chaps were quite confused, thinking that Hamlet fans consider Leicester a hated rival.

Well, I do. Walkers crisp knobs.

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