Superb Swans match high-flying Hamlet

Tuesday 13 March 2012.                                               Ryman League, Division One South.

Dulwich Hamlet 0    Walton & Hersham 0.

Swans put on arguably their best performance of the season in holding the high-flying south-east London side to a draw on their own patch. Every member of the side played his part in a superb, disciplined display that denied a very good Hamlet side another win in their promotion campaign.

Inevitably the home side had openings, but Swans certainly matched them in that respect, and probably went the closest to breaking the deadlock in an enthralling, highly-competitive encounter.

An unchanged Swans’ side won a free-kick five yards outside the box inside the first minute, but Greg Andrews could not clear the wall with his effort. Then, with five minutes played, a home defender appeared to handle the ball inside the box, but play carried on. Swans continued to have the best of the play and Josh Bonnett sent over a good cross from the left, and when the ball came to Andrews outside the right of the box, he struck a fine, first-time effort just over.

Hamlet’s first hint of a chance came just before the quarter of an hour when Ishmail Kamara got into the box on the right, but he could only find the side-netting with a low shot. Swans soon attacked again and Liam Collins found space on the right to drive in a low cross that was just cut out by home goalkeeper Phil Wilson. Hamlet showed their credentials with quick, neat passing and movement, and when they got in a cross from the left Kamara put a header wide.

Collins was soon making another good, surging run into the Hamlet box on the right, and his low cross was just cleared away. Collins then set up Phil Williams on the right for a typical, jinking run into the box, and when the ball was cleared to Chris Wales 22 yards out, his shot just clipped a defender to deflect over the bar.

Hamlet had to work hard to try to work openings against a well-organised Swans’ defence, but Kamara did cut inside from the right to drive a left-foot shot just wide of the far-post from the edge of the box. Another chance soon came for the home side when Stuart Derry just failed to get his head to a high knock forward, and when the ball was played in from the right Kevin James had a clear sight of goal, but Swans’ keeper Rodney Chiweshe did superbly to turn his shot wide. Chiweshe was again called into action with 37 minutes played when Hamlet were awarded a free-kick 40 yards out. James surprisingly went direct for goal, but Chiweshe was alert to tip over a powerful strike.

As the first-half entered the final five minutes Swans had a great chance to take the lead when the home side was caught with two defenders facing three attackers when Williams got the ball in midfield. With Graeme Purdy and Andrews both up in support Williams surged clear down the middle to get into the box, but the ball just ran away from him at the vital moment and Wilson came out to save.Wales had a shot from 35 yards deflected over, but in the final minute of the half Swans were almost undone when Hamlet broke away as an attack broke down and Frankie Sawyer got through on the left, but he shot wide of the far-post.

Hamlet exerted more pressure after the resumption and a header went over when James sent a free-kick from deep on the left into the box. Sawyer’s snap-shot from the edge of the box then dipped over.

With twelve minutes played of the second-half Swans went close to taking the lead when the excellent Collins whipped in a great cross from the right to the near-post, where Purdy stabbed the ball just wide. Williams was a thorn in the side of his former club all evening, and when the ball broke to him 40 yards out he made a terrific run across to the left and then into the box, and Wilson just managed to block the ball behind for a corner. Bonnett took the kick from the left to pick out Andrews at the far-post, but he headed a good chance wide.

An hour had been played when Swans had two fine efforts in the space of a minute that went close to putting them ahead. Williams neatly back-heeled the ball to Collins by the right corner of the box, and he struck a terrific shot that Wilson did well to push round his near-post. Bonnett then drove in a fine, left-foot shot from outside the box on the right that clipped the top of the bar before going over. An excellent build-up led to Purdy laying the ball back to set up Collins inside the box, but he could not get any power in his shot and Wilson was able to save.

Hamlet had made a double substitution to try to break down the resolute Swans’ defence, and one of the replacements, Sol Pinnock, drove in a low shot from the edge of the box, but Chiweshe went down on his line to save and deny him a goal against his former club. With a quarter of an hour left a through ball again got Williams into the home box, but he was just denied by keeper Wilson. It took a fine save by Chiweshe to prevent Hamlet denying Swans a deserved point, the keeper tipping the ball over when Lewis Gonsalves got in a header following a corner from the right. James tried another long-range free-kick from out on the left, but the ball flew wide and failed to trouble Chiweshe.

With two minutes remaining Swans looked to have a final chance of taking all three points when substitute Jason Henry burst clear down the middle past two defenders, but he was adjudged to have handled the ball, and was duly booked. But Swans will be delighted to have put in an overall, fine team effort, with all areas of the side working terrifically hard all game to frustrate very good opponents.

Swans’ Team: Rodney Chiweshe, Josh Webb, Victor Kiri, Chris Wales (Jerome Maledon 74’), Stuart Derry, Dan Sintim, Liam Collins, Josh Bonnett, Graeme Purdy, Greg Andrews (Jason Henry 74’), Phil Williams. Subs. not used: Ashlee Quashie, Harry Smart, Sheikh Ceesay. Cautions: Purdy, foul (71’), Henry, deliberate handball (88’).                          

Dulwich Team: Wilson, Morath-Gibbs, E. Pinnock, Ofusu-Hene (Adenyi 77’), Duku, Gonsalves, Clunis (Ming 65’), Lawson, Kamara, James, Sawyer (S. Pinnock 65’). Subs. not used: Snelling, Costa.