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Maidstone United 2 Dulwich Hamlet 0 match report: Joan Luque's 20th goal of the season and Jack Barham's second-half effort earn the Stones big National League South win

Maidstone earned a 10th successive home league win against Dulwich Hamlet in National League South on Tuesday, moving level on points with Dorking at the summit.

In-form Joan Luque bagged his 20th goal this season in the first half before Jack Barham doubled their advantage after the restart to cap an impressive performance and a 2-0 success for the hosts.

Joan Luque celebrates scoring his 20th goal of the season in Tuesday's home win against Dulwich Hamlet. Picture: Steve Terrell
Joan Luque celebrates scoring his 20th goal of the season in Tuesday's home win against Dulwich Hamlet. Picture: Steve Terrell

The Stones made a good start in front of a 2,005-strong crowd at the Gallagher and they created the first chance when Joe Ellul nodded Roarie Deacon’s corner over with five minutes played.

Two minutes later, Maidstone skipper Gavin Hoyte stood up a cross from the right and away goalkeeper Charlie Grainger made a stunning save to keep out Michael Phillips’ header on his return to the starting line-up.

After a strong start by Hakan Hayrettin’s men, the visitors slowly appeared to be getting a foothold in the game.

But it was Grainger who was forced into another good save in the 24th minute.

Maidstone’s top scorer Luque picked up the ball on the left, cut inside and tried to bend one into the far corner, only to be denied by Grainger, with the Hamlet defence managing to clear the loose ball.

Maidstone's Dominic Odusanya on the ball. Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone's Dominic Odusanya on the ball. Picture: Steve Terrell

But the prolific Spaniard was not to be denied just before the half-hour mark, heading in Deacon’s delightful cross from the right to find the net.

It was his four in four games, with plenty of matches left for the winger to add to his incredible tally before the end of the campaign.

With 36 minutes on the clock, Luque almost added a second as he ran onto a loose ball at the back post but, this time, he was denied by Grainger.

The visitors were forced into an early change as Ronnie Vint hobbled off and was replaced by Jack Holland.

With the home team slightly slack at the back, Dulwich created a couple of half-chances towards the end of the half, one of which saw Giovanni McGregor fire over from distance, but the Stones held the lead at the break.

Hamlet made a half-time switch which saw Darren McQueen come on for Luca Levee.

Seven minutes after the restart, Jordan Higgs latched onto a loose ball and drilled a low effort narrowly wide of Tom Hadler’s right-hand post for the London club.

But the Stones had been in dominant mood all night and they added a deserved second on 57 minutes.

Striker Barham dinked over Grainger and, despite defender Taofiq Olomowewe tracking back, he was unable to keep the ball out of the net.

Midway through the second period, there was a glimmer of hope for the away team, with Reise Allassani appearing to have got the wrong side of Hoyte, but the defender recovered well to prevent him from breaking clean through.

Five minutes from time, Dulwich had a golden chance to pull one back from a free-kick as substitute McQueen dragged wide when he should have hit the target before Maidstone scorers Barham and Luque were substituted moments later.

But Stones fans were given another boost late on with the news Eastbourne Borough were leading against frontrunners Dorking who are only ahead of Maidstone on goal difference now, with Eastbourne coming from behind to win 3-2. With the sides level on points, frontrunners Dorking are now only three goals better off than Maidstone.

Looking to bounce back after defeat at Slough at the weekend, Stones boss Hayrettin made three changes.

George Fowler and Sam Corne dropped to the bench, while on-loan Charlton man Johl Powell was out of the squad entirely.

Coming in for the hosts were Raphe Brown, Phillips and Dominic Odusanya.

Dulwich, who included former Dover defender Tyrone Sterling and ex-Welling and Dartford man Sanchez Ming in their starting line-up, started the night just outside the play-off places.

They were also looking to bounce back from a defeat on Saturday, having lost 1-0 at home to Havant & Waterlooville.

Maidstone’s run of home league wins dates back to their 1-0 loss to Slough on November 6, more than four months ago.

Maidstone United: Hadler, Hoyte, Ellul, Brown, Barham (Ghandour 86mins), Luque (Pattison 86mins), Odusanya, Booty, Phillips (Corne 70mins), Binnom-Williams, Deacon. Subs not used: Fowler, Mersin.

Dulwich Hamlet: Grainger, Ming, Sterling, Higgs, Olomowewe, Vint (Holland 38mins), Green, Levee (McQueen 46mins), Mills (Sekajja 72mins), McGregor, Allasani. Subs not used: Blackman, Kandi.

Referee: Kirsty Dowle.

Attendance: 2,005.

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