Dartford v Dulwich Hamlet
Dartford returned to winning ways in style, as a hat-trick and Man of The Match performance from Alex Wall ensured a comprehensive victory over Dulwich Hamlet on a cold afternoon at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.
As 1,202 supporters started to get themselves as comfortable as possible in the cold conditions, they didn’t have long to wait before the Darts sent them into ecstatic cheers with an early goal.
It was a harmless set of circumstances that led to the opener, or so Dulwich Hamlet thought…! They failed to clear the first attacking move of the game inside their own box, and Harvey Bradbury pounced to feed the ball straight towards Alex Wall. And Wall, with plenty of time, calmly slotted the ball home to net his ninth league goal of the season after just seven minutes.
Sadly, the goal failed to light the spark the first forty-five needed, as both sides were unable to break the scrappy play that took place in large quantities. However, when opportunities were created, it was the Darts who created them.
Luke Coulson and Richard Chin were looking threatening on the flanks, as Alan Dowson had shuffled his squad following last weekend’s defeat to Chelmsford. And it was the former’s 25th minute corner which found the head of Captain Tom Bonner. Unfortunately, the defender couldn’t quite direct his effort on target on this occasion.
The hosts began to exert their authority on proceedings after the half-hour mark, and only the alertness of goalkeeper Charlie Grainger kept Hamlet in the game. He’d first pull off a fine save to prevent Wall from adding his second of the afternoon (31), before saving more comfortably from Coulson two minutes later.
Another good move was rewarded with a corner with a minute of the half remaining, which Coulson whipped into the box once again. This time he found Maxwell Statham, but he couldn’t keep his header down either and the one-goal advantage remained (44).
As far as the visitors are concerned, the only real chance they created came back in the eighth minute… and it was only a half-chance at that. Deon Woodman managed to get on the end of a corner, but Ben Dudzinski was alert to smother the ball comfortably.
Any words spoken by Hakan Hayrettin at the half-time break were undone by the Darts within five minutes of the restart. And it was Luke Coulson and Alex Wall who punished such sloppy defending… Coulson was on fire this afternoon, making the Hamlet defence look like amateurs. He carved out an opening with some terrific football, before finding Wall with a delightful pass… and Wall’s strike was equally delightful, leaving Grainger with no chance (50).
Three minutes later saw Wall complete a deserved hat-trick in style. Maxwell Statham was the provider on this occasion when his excellent cross from the right-flank was met by a towering header from the Man of The Match, all but securing the points for the hosts.
With his afternoon’s work complete, Wall became the first of Alan Dowson’s substitutions, as he was replaced by Bobby Dunn in the 62nd minute. Dartford’s only other change saw them swap Sam Odaudu with Luke Allen after 76 minutes.
The visitors, meanwhile, would swap Gianni Crichlow with Joshua Fawole (54) and Conor Lawless with Johl Powell (72). Yet, they had still yet to register a clear-cut opportunity let alone a shot on target, such was the Dartford defence’s dominance.
The hosts came close to adding a fourth via Connor Essam in the 64th minute, but the defender’s effort was excellently saved by Grainger, who was certainly the busier goalkeeper this afternoon.
In fact, it took until the 84th minute for Dulwich to register their first shot on target. It came via a rare breach of the Dartford defensive line, after Danny Mills sent a neat flick to release substitute Joshua Fawole. He was through one-on-one with Dudzinski, but the Dartford goalkeeper wasn’t going to be denied of a clean sheet this afternoon, as he got down to make the save (83).
The goalkeeper then launched his team forward once again, whereby Statham received the ball before sending another dangerous cross into the Dulwich box. Unfortunately, nobody was able to get on the end of it this time, but the Darts didn’t need to wait much longer for that fourth goal, which duly arrived in the 85th minute.
Harvey Bradbury was the player who got it after receiving the ball inside the Dulwich box, before firing home his second for the Darts. He’d surely be delighted to score on his full debut for the club.
The hosts weren’t finished their, however, and came close to adding a fifth goal deep into stoppage time. Luke Coulson (who’s performance deserved a goal as well) was the man to create it, but his low curling strike was collected by Charlie Grainger.
The day belonged to Alex Wall though, as he collected the match ball after an excellent performance in front of goal. His efforts mean that he’s now Dartford’s top goalscorer, with twelve goals in all competitions so far this season (11 in the league).
The result, meanwhile, sees Dartford maintain second place in the National League South, as the battle for the play-offs rages on.
DARTFORD: Ben Dudzinski, Jordan Wynter, Richard Chin, Connor Essam, Tom Bonner (c), Luke Coulson, Alex Wall, Maxwell Statham, Harvey Bradbury, Sam Odaudu, Jernade Meade.
SUBSTITUTES: Samir Carruthers, Luke Allen, Keiran Murtagh, Bobby Dunn, Malachi Napa.
DULWICH HAMLET: Charlie Grainger, Sanchez Ming, Conor Lawless, David Stephens, Danny Mills, Quade Taylor, George Porter, Deon Woodman, Joe Felix, Kristian Campbell, Gianni Crichlow.
SUBSTITUTES: Frankie Raymond, Aaron Jones, Joshua Fawole, Johl Powell, Ronnie Vint.
|April 1, 2023||3:00 pm||National League South||2022/23||0'|