The Tanners finished what was a dismal December with a two-goal defeat at Hamlet.

Bob Langford had made signings to stiffen the midfield and defence, bringing in Andrew Waring from Chipstead in the centre of defence and re-signed Tommy Moorhouse who had spent time at Kingstonian and Metrpolitan Police. John Cartledge returned from injury and Danny Elgar was promoted from the reserves on the wide right of midfield.

Conditions were not ideal. Hamlet’s Champion Hill ground is now shared with a beleaguered Fisher Athletic club who had hosted AFC Wimbledon the day before. Add to that the feezing cold wind; it was not ideal for either side.

The first half was goal-less. Conditions meant that play was scrappy with errors on both sides cancelled out. The Tanners had a more solid look about them defensively with the influence of Cartledge and Moorhouse but equally, the giant Dulwich defence were able to deal with Leatherhead’s smaller strike force of Kev Terry and Tom Hutchings.

With both sides coming to terms with the conditions – and the after effects of the Christmas break – the half time stale mate was justified. Neither goalkeeper was overworked but, following a typically impudent lay-off from Hutchings, Jamie Lunan in the home goal did well to hold a Kev Terry volley.

The home side started the second half in a lively fashion by running at a leatherhead defence who were well marshalled by Cartledge and Waring. With Stewart Holmes putting in his usual well disciplined performance on the right side of the defensive line and Ryan Palmer distributing the ball well down the left, it did seem that the Tanners were good for at least a point.

Probably, the turning point of the game came in the 63rd minute. John Wilfort, who had played well in the centre of midfield, went down under a heavy challenge and was replaced by Matt Jones. Wilfort has had a quiet start to his time at Fetcham Grove but was steadily growing his influence against Hamlet. His loss changed the balance in the midfield and was a key factor in the closing phases of the game.

Hamlet took the lead shortly after the change. The ever dangerous Laurence Hamici found enough spce to play a clever through ball that left the Tanners defence floundering left with a one on one with the onrushing Scott Simpson, Chris Lewington had little chance to stop the home side taking the lead.

The Tanners continued to press and did work some useful positions but the Hamlet defence are a powerful unit and Hutchings and Terry, although working hard, had little joy against them. The best chances fell to Jason Henry. First, a quickly taken free kick allowed him time and space to hit a low shot that Lunan did well to hold and later, his strike hit the bar after Tom Hutching’s blocked shot fell to him.

With injury time looming, a strikingly similar position allowed the home side to extend their lead. Once again a through ball found a Dulwich forward in space with only Lewington in front of him. This time it was Daryl Plummer who slid his shot under the Tanners’ goal-keeper to seal the win for the South London side.

This was a more solid performance from Leatherhead who certainly did not disgrace themselves but, at this stage of the season, they will want to see more points on the board to ease the frustration of a second season filled with change and unfulfilled promise.

Team Lewington, Holmes, Cartledge, Waring, Palmer, Wilfort (Jones), Elgar (Marshall), Moorhouse, Hutchings (Jenkins), Terry, Henry