National League South: Dulwich Hamlet 1 Wealdstone 1
PUBLISHED: 13:16 09 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:16 09 September 2018
Wealdstone withstood enormous second-half pressure to come away from Imperial Fields on Saturday with a precious point.
Stones battled throughout for the draw, but matters could and should have been diametrically different if they had capitalised on several first-half chances when they were largely dominating possession and exposing a lack of composure in a newly promoted Dulwich Hamlet side who are finding life far more challenging at the higher level.
Stones took the lead in the first half through a Bradley Hudson-Odoi penalty, whilst Hamlet equalised with 10 minutes left on the clock via Anthony Cook in a frantic second period.
Played out in an excellent and boisterous atmosphere the 1,101 crowd would have been entertained by the changing fortunes of the sides throughout.
Stones had one change to their line-up, bringing in Matt Lench for the injured Bradley Bubb. Newly signed loanee Fumnaya Shomotun was named among the substitutes.
One notable appearance for Dulwich was ex-Stone Iffy Allen who was in their starting XI and he certainly seemed to have a point to prove in a good performance for the hosts.
Stones found plenty of room to move the ball around early on but the first strike on goal came from the hosts when Nathan Ferguson brought a save from Jon North who parried away for a corner.
It took 15 minutes for Stones to find their rhythm but when they did start to link up Dave Pratt went desperately close with a header that came off the woodwork from an excellent Freddie Grant cross.
Dulwich hit back but were stopped by an excellent piece of defensive work from Connor Stevens when Nathen Green got free down the left.
North then held Allen’s long range effort as Stones looked increasingly comfortable.
Then on 22 minutes following another Wealdstone attack, Pratt was walloped in the face by the boot of a defender in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Hudson-Odoi despatched the penalty with ease beating Preston Edwards low to the keeper’s right.
Grant then missed a great opportunity to double Stones lead when he blazed wide from a corner and Pratt’s close-range effort was stopped brilliantly by Edwards as the half drew to a close.
The second period was an altogether different affair as the hosts went out on an all-out attacking policy that would stop Stones from breaking out.
Stones attacking threat was increasingly nullified as Hamlet turned up the wick, but the away side continued to deal with everything that was coming at them with Stevens and Tyler particularly outstanding in defence and Pratt working his socks off defending from the front, chasing down everything.
Fouls were conceded as the tackles flew in with a succession of corners adding to the pressure but time and again Stones were able to repel the danger. But the heat on Stones goal was now incessant as they dropped ever deeper to shore up the rearguard.
North excelled with a superb tip over as the attacks continued to mount but Stones looked like they might yet hang for the win.
Reece Mitchell came on for Jeffrey Monakana in an attempt to provide some attacking spark but the former Chesterfield winger could make little impact against the tide of home attacks
With 79 minutes on the clock the pressure finally told for Stones as Dulwich equalised from an excellent strike by Cook who was put clear and rifled past North from 15 yards.
The home side now sensed they could go on to win the game and continued to press forward. But Stones battled away and then popped up with a great chance of their own in added time when Pratt expertly knocked down for Mitchell but he agonisingly blazed over from just outside the box
Wealdstone withstood more pressure at the death and held out for a massively hard worked and gutsy point with the defence taking the plaudits during a torrid second period.
Wealdstone manager Bobby Wilkinson said: “It was a game of two halves and yes we should have taken our chances in the first 45 minutes.
“There are two teams in every contest and Dulwich were desperate to get something out of this game, they are at home and have the right to come at us.
“I thought our work rate off the ball and battling in the second half to get a very valuable point was outstanding. The boys showed me the guts and determination we need when we are under pressure.”
Wealdstone are at home to Chelmsford City next Saturday (September 15) in another big game in the National League South, starting at 3pm.
Wealdstone: North, Tyler, Grant, Stevens, Okimo, Poku, Monakana, Ahmidi, Pratt, Lench, Hudson-Odoi. Subs used: Mitchell, Brown. Unused subs: Wilson, Green, Shomotun.