Against a canopy of the rolling Surrey hills and on a canvas burnt ochre by the fierce summer sun, Dulwich painted pictures of footballing artistry on a bone hard and bumpy pitch, denied refreshment by a drought enforcement order.

So parched a sward was the Meadowbank Stadium that when the heavens mercifully opened provide much-longed for moisture each blade of brown grass seemed to stretch skyward to grasp at each raindrop as if it would be the last.

Having held Dulwich's divisional compatriots Whyteleafe to a deserved 1-1 draw a week early, the Chicks of the Combined Counties League must have been confident of putting a dent in the Hamlet's pre-season preparations.

The early exchanges certainly seemed to bear out this argument.

Though Dulwich came close in the opening minutes when Ohran Stewart's strike from the edge of the penalty area took a wicked deflection, forcing keeper Stuart Baverstock to stretch all of his considerable frame into tipping the looping effort over the bar, the hosts must have been cursing their own failure to grasp the opportunities that came their way, most telling of all when a forward found himself onside with only Emberson to beat.

Much to the relief of the Hamlet the Dorking striker's radar was off as a well-struck low drive was drilled well of Emberson's right hand post.

Just before the half-hour an intricately worked goal gave Dulwich the lead as David Moore exchanged passes with Yinka Salaam overlapping down the right wing.

A neat pull back from Moore found Carlton Murray-Price lurking at the edge of the six yard box to sweep the ball goalwards, a deflection off a defender's leg providing enough of a diversion to ensure the diving Baverstock could not reach the goalbound effort.

A reshuffle for the Hamlet after half-an-hour as defender Adam Wadmore was rested, Wayne Burnett bringing on Gavin Dayes to line up alongside Jamie Coyle at the heart of defence.

This meant a switch for Salaam over to left-back whilst Jason Turley reverted to his traditional position of right back from centre-half.

With ten minutes to go until the break Dulwich put together a sweeping move up field that came within a whisker of giving Murray-Price a second goal.

From the middle of the park Moore fed the striker but from ten yards out Murray-Price's struck a bender that curled excruciatingly wide of the diving Baverstock's near upright.

As half-time drew ever closer it seemed as if that single goal would be enough to send Dulwich in at the break with their noses in front but then a clumsy challenge by Salaam on the penalty spot gifted the Chicks a chance to grab what would have been a deserved equaliser.

Whilst the hosts looked for a hero in green, Hamlet found one of their own as Emberson belied the years, flinging himself full length to batter the ball away at the foot of his left hand post.

If this was not bad enough the Chicks then blew another great chance of drawing level as Dulwich's defence was caught square, only for the chance to go begging as the ball was run over the goal line after the exposed Emberson had been rounded.

To add insult to injury, the first few minutes of the second half put a fatal nail in the coffin of Dorking aspirations as Hamlet sub Phil Williams, with a full tank of petrol in his turbocharged legs; proceed to rip holes in a slow starting home defence.

Barely had the first whistle gone and Williams received the ball out wide on the left and to dance through the despairing tackles of a myriad of green-clad defenders before finding himself face to face with Baverstock, the big keeper powerless to prevent the serpentine run of Williams ending in the inevitable goal.

Moments later and the shell-shocked Baverstock was picking the ball from his netting once again, treating his defenders to a volley of invectives as they were left for dead as Williams ran on to a through pass from midfield to rocket the ball home.

As the rain eased so the tempo rose and despite the inevitable flurry of substitutions Dulwich kept up the assault on the home goal.

Even the boss himself was on the field, Burnett lording it down the right wing as Dulwich created chance after chance.

Fellow replacement Jean-Serge Musungu might have grabbed a goal courtesy of a Burnett cross as he bravely flung himself headlong to connect with a hammered cross from the right, only for the ball to ricochet up off the done-dry turf and fractionally over the crossbar.

Thick and fast the openings came. Musungu beat the offside trap only to hesitate a moment to long and allow the keeper to block at his feet.

Kenny Beaney powered through from midfield to rifle a fierce drive just wide.

Joel Greaves too was denied by Baverstock but then atoned as his hard work paved the way for Musungu to make it 4-0, the tenacious youngster beating off a host of near-the-knuckle challenges as he battled into the area, the ball finally running loose to Musungu who gleefully hammered the ball home from 12 yards out.

A cracking volley from a half-cleared corner that dropped over the outstretched fingertips of leaping Chris Lewington, on in place of Emberson between the sticks, but this merely served to inflame the Hamlet and it would not be long before the four goal deficit was restored courtesy of Moore.

Latching on to the finest of through passes from Burnett, Moore iced the cake as nonchalantly he curled the ball beyond the advancing custodian.

With the game already in stoppage time, one might have expected the Hamlet to have eased off the pedal and give their shattered hosts a modicum of respite but the new order at Champion Hill does not subscribe to that dogma.

Like a mastiff snapping at a bull, Burnett ripped time and again at the home defence in what must have seemed an interminable few minutes of stoppage time, lashing crosses like exocets across the face of goal, though the pace and ferocity would have tested the bravest of strikers to apply the finishing touch.

At last the final whistle brought much-anticipated relief to the roasted Chicks.

For Dulwich another step in the phoney war, the Dorkings provide the mocks; the real examination is still a month away.

Dulwich: Carl Emberson: Yinka Salaam: Adam Wadmore: Jamie Coyle: Jason Turley: Cedric Meeko: David Moore: Ohran Stewart: Carlton Murray-Price: Lee Hynes: Theo Fairweather-Johnson Subs used: Kenny Beaney, Phil Williams, Matt Deane, Gavin Dayes, Jean-Serge Musungu, Joel Greaves, Wayne Burnett, Chris Lewington (GK)