Dulwich Hamlet 1

Wealdstone 4

Former Burnley star Glen Little scored a goal befitting his days in the Premiership as Wealdstone announced themselves as title contenders on Saturday, writes Nick Dugard.

The midfielder, who also graced football’s top flight with Reading, claimed a first half double, the second goal of which will live long in the memory of those that witnessed it to help Stones to an impressive 4-1 win over an excellent Dulwich side.

It was not all about Little though as to a man the visitors, backed by 220 travelling fans in an 800 strong crowd carried out boss Gordon Bartlett’s tactical master-plan to the letter in their most comprehensive display of the season.

Elliott Godfrey was outstanding in midfield, while Luke Pigden’s first goal in Stones’ colours and Scott McGleish’s 14th of the season came at crucial times.

It meant despite some excellent football by the hosts, an impromptu floodlight failure during the first half really was the closest they came to de-railing the visitors from their quest to take all three points back to the Vale.

Wealdstone knew all about the way that The Hamlet play and devised a game plan that absorbed inevitable pressure but allowed them to break effectively when the opportunity arose. It worked a treat but not without some scares along the way.

Dulwich were almost unplayable for the first 20 minutes playing some neat, controlled possession football from the back line right through to their tricky forwards and most threateningly from their diminutive top scorer Erhun Oztumer. But Stones defence held firm with Sean Cronin and Tom Hamblin superb in centre whilst Jerome Okimo and James Hammond’s pace in the full back positions kept the Hamlet wide men at bay.

After a couple of chances that fell to Oztumer where Jonathan North had to be on high alert, Scott McGleish got into a typically great position but he was crowded out and the opportunity went begging

Wealdstone, having weathered the Hamlet storm, began to look more threatening as an incisive break saw Peter Adeniyi deflect a dangerous cross over his own crossbar and then a Stones shot was just about cleared off the goal line.

The game turned in the 34th minute as a great cross delivered by Little was met by Pigden who leapt superbly, his effort looping over keeper Phil Wilson into the far corner.

A mere three minutes later it was 2-0. The away side stormed forward and Little floated a lovely effort from the left over Wilson and into the far corner to leave the hosts stunned..

Worse was to come for the boys in pink when right on half-time Little produced his astonishing run and finish that started deep in his own half.

As the big man advanced inside the Dulwich half he seemed to have been closed down, but twisting and turning past defenders with deft control and balance he produced the most sublime finish with a delightful chip over the advancing Wilson sending the away contingent into ecstasy.

The Hamlet came out for the second period fired up and ready to hit back from the shock blitzing of the first period and with only two minutes played Oztumer poked a shot past the dive of North sending alarm bells ringing.

Dulwich now pushed forward with some purpose and Lodge combined with Kevin James but his shot was off target.

Oztumer too went close while Nyren Clunis had an effort blocked and Ian Daly forced a great full length save from North.

A second goal would have really put Dulwich back in the game but instead it was McGleish who effectively settled matters as he arrived in space to head home from close range following a super cross from Tom Pett from the left on 74 minutes.

Stones brought on all three substitutes as the clock ran down and Peter Dean was unlucky to have a late fifth goal chalked off for offside.

Stones are back in action at The Vale tomorrow evening when they entertain Uxbridge in the Middlesex Senior Cup.