Leiston suffer play-off heart-break as Carew fires Dulwich Hamlet into final

PUBLISHED: 21:50 03 May 2018 | UPDATED: 22:08 03 May 2018

The scene at Tooting & Mitcham, as Leiston (orange shirts) take on hosts Dulwich Hamlet in the Bostik Premier play-off clash in South London. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The scene at Tooting & Mitcham, as Leiston (orange shirts) take on hosts Dulwich Hamlet in the Bostik Premier play-off clash in South London. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Dulwich Hamlet 1 Leiston 0

Leiston players Jack Ainsley and Chris Henderson receive instructsions from manager Glenn Driver during a break in play in the first half. Picture: CARL MARSTON.Leiston players Jack Ainsley and Chris Henderson receive instructsions from manager Glenn Driver during a break in play in the first half. Picture: CARL MARSTON.

Leiston suffered the heart-break of a play-off defeat, when edged out by Ashley Carew’s 71st minute free-kick as hosts Dulwich Hamlet booked their place in the Bostik Premier final tonight.

The Suffolk side had done well to make the top five, and they so nearly took a first-half lead when Byron Lawrence had two shots blocked at point blank range inside the six-yard box.

It was a very tense affair, this semi-final being played at Tooting & Mitcham FC, in South London, due to Dulwich Halmet’s recent forced move from their old Champion Hill ground.

In the end, the tie was won by 32-year-old Carew’s quality free-kick.

Kyle Hammond conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position, and the much-travelled Carew, who lists Barnet and Cambridge United among his many clubs, curled a delightful 20-yarder beyond keeper Marcus Garnham and into the bottom corner of the net. The Hamlet will host Hendon in the final on Monday afternoon.

Leiston had survived a couple of early scares, including Garnham doing well to divert Marc Weatherstone’s header onto the bar.

But the Suffolk side soon settled and a spectacular volley from midfielder Jack Ainsley, struck from 25 yards out, flew only a foot over the bar in the 10th minute.

Garnham bravely punched away a dangerous free-kick into the six yard-box from Carew, and when the Leiston keeper then made a hash of an attempted clearance, he made amends by smothering Carew’s ensuing low cross.

However, it was Leiston who came the closest to scoring in the first half. Jake Reed delivered a pinpoint cross from the left, and Lawrence had two bites at the cherry, from close-range.

Lawrence’s first shot appeared to be blocked by a hand, but was not spotted by referee Paul Johnson, and his follow-up shot was also charged down on the edge of the six-yard box.

It was a tense first 20 minutes of the second period, with Leiston forced to defend deeper, but Matt Blake caused a stir with a cross that was hacked off the goal-line on 65 minutes.

However, it was Hamlet who grabbed the all-important goal, via Carew’s 71st minute free-kick.

LEISTON: Garnham, Hammond, Dunbar, Ainsley, Jefford, Bullard, Lawrence (sub Mills, 79), Henderson, Reed, Blake (sub Finch, 81), Brothers (sub Docherty, 75). Attendance: 1,285

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