A Point But No Cigar
Kingstonian and Dulwich Hamlet fought out a 1-1 draw in a scrappy encounter where two of the strongest sides in the division from last year largely cancelled each other out. The Hamlet took the lead before half time with Forbes bundling the ball over the line from close range before Kavanagh equalised in the second half with a high class free kick.
Both sides struggled to find any fluency in a disjointed first half, where genuine scoring chances were hard to come by. Tolfrey was the first keeper to be called into action as he saved well from a 25 yard Carew free kick in the sixth minute. Kingstonian then enjoyed a flurry of half chances which saw Hammond finish weakly from a Laidler through pass and Kavanagh, Henry and Sweeney miss with shots from distance.
After thirty minutes of the first half there was a sense that the tide was turning as Dulwich started to enjoy more possession, albeit they still struggled to create chances. However as they ramped up the pressure Kingstonian were grateful for Inns making two timely interceptions.
They say sides should score when they are on top and this is exactly what Dulwich did as they converted their ascendancy into a goal in the thirty eighth minute. Kingstonian failed to clear a long ball into the box and after a couple of deflections it fell to central defender Terrell Forbes, who had the simplest of jobs to bundle over from close range.
Aaron Goode came on as a half time substitute to replace Wilson Gondwe and this appeared to give Kingstonian a better balance as he provided more attacking options down the right side.
Although the home side started to look brighter they were still struggling to create chances until Kavanagh produced the best moment of the match. McCollin was fouled on the left edge of the area in the sixty second minute, to win a free kick from 25 yards out. This provided the stage for the returning Kavanagh to lift a shot over the defensive wall and low into the bottom left hand corner.
Any hopes that this might provide a stage for Kingstonian to press on and win the game proved to be short lived. The match did open up, but a series of promising looking counter attacks ultimately came to nothing as the respective defences prevailed. Dulwich centre half, Ethan Pinnock, really stood out as he effectively snuffled out the threat of Elvis Hammond. For Kingstonian, Chris Henry grew into the game as he became a consistent threat down the left wing.
Ultimately a draw looked like a fair result as both teams struggled to create chances. In the corresponding fixture last year Dulwich played much better than this and lost, so you could argue this was progress of a sort for them. However, they looked to be sorely missing the creative spark provided by the diminutive Erhun Oztumer last season.
Time will tell whether this was two good sides cancelling each other out or whether they will struggle to recapture the form of last season. With Kingstonian having retained the core of their team and made useful additions, it ought to be the former.
Match report by Peter Allan.