GALLERY: Bad day in the office for Blues of Leiston as ex-Ipswich Town forward Dean McDonald is Dulwich Hamlet’s star of the show
- Credit: James Ager
Leiston succumbed to their first defeat of the season on Saturday as visitors Dulwich Hamlet proved too strong for the Blues, triumphing 2-0 in the Ryman Premier Division.
It was a result that the majority of the impressive 258-strong Victory Road crowd could not argue with as the well-drilled and quick-thinking London side deservedly took all three points with a clinical away performance.
Proceedings got off to a horrific start for the hosts as within 96 seconds, Dulwich had opened the scoring -–former Ipswich Town forward Dean McDonald latching onto to a diagonal ball with frightening pace before crashing a shot high into Danny Gay’s net after turning Blake Saker inside-out in the box.
Such a slow start could have made for a long afternoon for the Blues, but they immediately responded in a positive manner with Craig Parker forcing Phil Wilson into a save, while Cliff Akurang was inches wide with a glancing header from a Tom Winter cross.
Winter, released from Ipswich Town at the end of last season, was starting his first game of the campaign following an impressive performance off the bench in the Blues’ last-gasp 2-1 win over Billericay Town on Tuesday evening.
His quick and direct approach all but claimed Leiston’s late win over Billericay, and the youngster was largely the focal point again here for the home side with several teasing crosses that on another day would have resulted in goals.
In fact, Winter could have scored himself in the 10th minute as, after some fine work from Gareth Heath, he had a sight of goal, only for Ethan Pinnock to block his effort.
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Another player who shone on the magnificent playing surface was McDonald.
McDonald, who has become a household name in non-league circles after various spells higher up the pyramid, was the star of the show as he ran Leiston’s back-line ragged at times with raw pace, clever movement, and intelligent link-up play with partner Laurent Hamici.
The tricky playmaker went agonisingly close when his cross-cum-shot landed on top of the net after eluding goalkeeper Gay.
For all their exploits going forward though, Dulwich were a little less imposing at the back, and things could have been different if Joe Francis had shown a bit more composure and had a bit more luck when chances came his way.
Adam Tann came to the rescue for Leiston with a goal-saving tackle following a moment of rare misjudgment from Gay, who also had to be at his best to deny Nyren Clunis in the second half and keep Leiston intact.
But the result was put beyond doubt in the 69th minute when the experienced Ashley Carew drilled home a spot-kick.
That came after McDonald tricked his way into the box and was impeded by Tom Bullard on a bad day at the office for Leiston.
Leiston: Gay, Saker, Boardley, Mitchell (P Brothers 69), Bullard, Tann, Winter (M Brothers 58), Heath, Akurang (Ottley-Gooch 58), Parker, Francis. Unused: Jefford, Rossis.
Dulwich: Wilson, Kamara, Patterson, Samuels (Gonsalves), Forbes, Pinnock, Clunis (Mansaray), Carew, Hamici, McDonald, Hibbert (Vidal). Unused: Neita, Hysi.