National South: St Albans City’s charge up the league halted by Dulwich Hamlet
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City’s charge up the Vanarama National League South table was derailed slightly with a 1-0 defeat away to Dulwich Hamlet.
And even on a bright day, which left the players and those among the 850-strong crowd packed into the main stand at Tooting & Mitcham’s Imperial Fields home blinded, it was long time Hamlet favourite Nyren Clunis that was the most dazzling star on show.
He got the only goal of the game as Dulwich coped comfortably with whatever City could throw at that.
And in defeat the visitors showed that annoying trait of inconsistency, failing to capitalise on the fantastic victories over Slough Town and Welling United earlier in the week.
Saints did have chances but Dulwich were by far the better team in the first-half.
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Their goal came on 27 minutes with a little one-two on the right edge of the box giving Clunis the chance to drill it low and hard across Dean Snedker and into the bottom corner.
And they could have had more.
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One Clunis cross was inches away from being diverted in by the stretching leg of Jay May while the big striker had earlier been denied when Snedker clawed one away from in front of the goal.
And another cross, this time from Nathan Green, needed Tom Bender to flick it behind to stop a Dulwich head from connecting.
The hosts were having plenty of success with moving the ball quickly and Clunis was a big part of this.
Snedker had to be alert to block one break and from another Ben Wyatt had to be quick to nick the ball away.
Saints’ chances saw Bender head over and Khale Da Costa curl one just wide.
But the biggest problem for the visitors was the gap between David Moyo up front and his support.
It meant even if he managed to hold the ball up, the nearest yellow shirts were often 20 yards behind.
He was given Da Costa as a partner at the start of the second period and midway through that changed to Sam Merson.
Initially it didn’t make much of a difference as Clunis continued to tease the City defence.
The Hamlet had the best chance with Ashley Carew, who managed to find himself completely unmarked at the back post, having enough time to bring a ball over the top down.
Fortunately for Saints he hooked it horribly and it went across goal and wide.
City had another let-off 17 minutes from time when a long distance shot from Nathan Ferguson bounced in front of Snedker and off the inside of his right-hand post before rolling back across goal and out.
The expected pressure did arrive late on from Saints with Wyatt sending a delightful cross in which Merson was just beaten to and then Clovis Kamdjo, who had a fine game in the middle of the park, lifting one high over the top.
Lewis Knight even hit the post with Merson firing the rebound over the top.
But it never looked like being enough and the final action saw Clunis leave a blot on his excellent display with a booking for laying a hand on the referee after chasing him back up the pitch.
St Albans City: Snedker, Herd (J.Banton 66), Bender, Noble (Merson 66), Knight, Diedhiou, Wyatt, Sambou, Da Costa, Moyo (Z.Banton 83), Kamdjo.
Subs (not used): Kiangebeni, Gardiner-Smith.
Dulwich Hamlet: Edwards, Taylor, Green, Kargbo (Ming 84), Okuonghae, Chambers, Clunis, Carew, May (Eshun 69), Vose (Tomlin 90+3), Ferguson.
Subs (not used): Allen, Cook.
Goal: Clunis 27
Booked: Carew 17, Green 34, Eshun 80, Okuonghae 90, Clunis 90+1.
HT: Dulwich Hamlet 1 St Albans City 0
Referee: Jack Packham (Margate)