Dulwich Hamlet lost 4-2 to a classy Leiston side at Champion Hill on Saturday in a topsy-turvy affair with five goals backloaded to the second-half.
Coming into the match the Suffolk outfit had a 100% record having beaten Canvey Island and pre-season favourites Havant and Waterlooville in their first two games. But Dulwich started the stronger with Ash Carew scheming behind the interchanging Nyren Clunis and Danny Carr up front.
The warning signs were there, however, and Leiston thought they had taken the lead when centre-back Joe Jefford headed in from a corner. Referee Rick Bloy deferred to his assistant’s advice and disallowed the goal for offside, with Leiston players blocking the path to Preston Edwards’ goal.
Carew forced a decent save from Leiston goalkeeper Nick Eyre, but it was Leiston who took the lead in the 22nd minute when the alice-banded Joe Francis cut in from the right-wing to steer the ball into the bottom-right corner past the sprawling Edwards.
Two minutes later they almost doubled their lead when Gareth Heath’s corner was met by Joe Jefford, whose powerful header cannoned back off the bar.
Much like Tuesday night’s fixture against Enfield Town, Clunis provided Dulwich’s greatest threat. In the 35th minute he was fed through by Gavin Tomlin, but was unable to get the ball under his spell with Eyre advancing.
At half-time Gavin Rose brought on Roman Michael-Percil for Carew and the Dulwich manager got an instant return for his change.
The first action of the half saw Tomlin’s cross met by Carr who scuffed his shot wide and a minute later the Dulwich number ten played through Michael-Percil, who was brought down on the edge of the box. Tomlin stepped up and arced the ball assuredly over the wall and into the top-right corner of the goal.
Four minutes later Dulwich were ahead. Tomlin was again at the centre of things, the ball coming back to him after a corner where he evaded the Leiston defenders to cross for centre-back Michael Chambers to head home.
The lead didn’t last for long when in the 55th minute the scorer of Leiston’s first goal, Francis, glided past left-back Nathan Green too easily and dinked a cross to Gareth Heath who slid in to score.
Despite being relatively quiet up until that point, Leiston striker Matt Black came into his own in the last half hour. In the 72 minute the number nine drilled a ball across for Francis to prod home his second and make it 3-2, before more hard work down the left occupied two Dulwich defenders as he slid the ball into Heath who gave Edwards no chance by slotting home his second.
Next up for Dulwich is a trip to Harlow Town on Tuesday night. Gavin Rose’s side will be looking for a degree of generosity to match that of their own fans who donated generously to the Southwark Foodbank at Saturday’s match whose resources have been diminished during the school holidays.