HARDY HADLEY WILT IN SECOND HALF
Dunstable Town 4-1 Hadley (HT 1-1) Att 63
On a blistering hot day at Creasey Park, Dunstable took to the field for their first home league fixture against a side that has shown stiff resistance in the past. The clubs had before this fixture met only four times in league matches and each game has been decided by just a one goal advantage, and indeed the last encounter at Potters Bar was a grim goal-less affair.
For the first half it seemed that this deadlock would be replicated. Well, at first perhaps that was not abundantly clear as it was the hosts who were looking the more dangerous with repeated attacks bringing several chances. At Ampthill they secured an early lead and it was also the case today when Jonathan Cooper netted following a smart combinative move from Tony Burnett and Lee Roache.
Sometimes an early lead is not fortuitous and it galvanised Hadley into an impressive reaction. It was impressive enough for home stalwarts to concede that the visitors looked the better side in an absorbing first half of mostly even chances.
There was some concern that a number of Dunstable passes were short of their intended destination or they were intercepted by a focused defence and midfield. The Duns’ central defender Fabio Bufano committed an unforced error with a short pass that was easily anticipated and this created a swift counter move that enabled a deserved equaliser, scored neatly by Dan Quattromini, who along with Dom Petrucci and Tinoi Christie had shown lively intent hitherto.
In conceding the goal, Dunstable also sacrificed their early threat of dominance and the visitors grew in confidence. Dom Petrucci shot directly at Lewis Kidd in one move a further effort gave Dan Quattromini an unchallenged shot which he ought to have done more than allow Kidd a comfortable save. Jonathan cooper conjured up a snap shot, as he tends to do, but this one cleared the bar.
An in swinging Dunstable corner looked the business but the ball went just out of play as players strove to connect. Hadley free kicks were generally sound and given the Blues vulnerability to set plays at Ampthill I was relieved to see some improved defending here.
Jonathan Barnett, who has received favourable notice for his somewhat outstanding goals from range so far did try to reproduce this but without success on this occasion,. Hadley were also erring in this department but the fact was they were more than matching Dunstable at this point and could well have taken a lead to the interval.
A combination of a half-time pep talk and some tactical substitutions seemed to be the key to Dunstable’s assertive and ultimately dominating play in a curious second half of muted involvement from the visitors which is a polite way of saying they looked a trifle knackered.
Hadley officials did tell me that their side looked out of sorts and lacking the desired match fitness – and the weather was no ally here – with a few stops to take on water when a player obligingly writhed on the pitch nursing an injury.
Whilst Ampthill had contested anything and everything in the last match – Hadley hardly had a look in, especially after just two minutes of the restart Tony Burnett restored the Duns’ lead with a fairly close range effort following typical opportunism from Nathan Frater.
Whilst there was the kind of probing patience that has characterised the play when these two teams have previously met, there was a bit of swagger about Dunstable who lorded it with possession and were able to construct pleasing and literally wide-ranging moves to threaten further.
Leon Cashman, Lucas Flood and Chris Francis had replaced the ponderous Fabio Bufano,Lee Roache,(who had taken a knock). Francis added zest and posed problems and Cashman with Flood added a steadiness. Damen Pickering came very close with a header, which went only just wide.
Damen told me afterwards that it went wide ‘because I closed my eyes again.’ So that can be remedied next time then! Barnett battled in the heat and he had a blocked shot. Francis then shot wide and Frater was looking more and more likely to open his account. Last season’s top scorer did the business with a brace of goals, the first coming with a neat lob over the misplaced Russell Garland after fifty-eight minutes. So, for the first time in meetings one side had a two goal advantage over the other and it deservedly Dunstable, now firmly in control and playing with panache. I noted the eager attention to duty from Jonathan Barnett, Moses Olalaye and that willingness to get forward from skipper Shane Wood – a true hundred percenter.
Hadley struggled to get forward and it seemed more and more to be just token efforts. Yet their first half display does suggest to me that they will go on to secure some impressive victories as their team does contain talented players.
Dunstable’s fourth goal came eight minutes before the end following a shot from Francis that had been beaten away but Frater’s quick-witted completion of the move allowed no interference and the final score emphasises the old view of the game of two halves- very different halves. Dunstable had needed to be entirely alert at the Ampthill game but were not given as thorough a testing this afternoon.
The league table is pleasant reading for the Regiment – three wins and maximum points, which is a sounder start than last season. I think this is of vital importance as it was rally the unnecessarily drawn games that were the key to losing out to Royston Town in the race for the title.
Promoted London Colney also have maximum points – but have played one game fewer, whereas their promoted colleagues, Ampthill only managed to draw with Haringey Borough. Yes, all early days and we now that Leverstock Green had a blinding spell of consecutive victories before faltering. So consistency is of the essence and Hanwell come to Creasey Park Tuesday, and that ought to be a good game as they had a fine 4-1 away win at Tring Athletic.
The game today probably lost a few punters as the town put on its ‘Party In The Park’ – an extravaganza of pop groups and ice creams etc., but we had our own party in the park at dear old Creasey.
I thank those who were very encouraging about my first effort at a league programme and apologise for the erroneous file that showed last season’s squad. This occurred as a result of the mixing up of files and will be rectified. Being programme editor was not a job I was eager to undertake and I am more than willing to pass this on if we have someone keen to lend a hand.
However, I wish to thank Dan who gave me technical assistance (by email from Dallas, Texas, where he has a living to earn).
So the season is well underway and this time we are not behind others with games played – you may recall one or two being postponed for various reasons at the outset of last season – the most notable being the one and Haringey which was called off owing to the ‘riot’ in Tottenham.
Man of the match – as decided by director of football John McLoughlin, was Nathan Frater, since his two goals secured the points in a characteristically gritty performance.
DUNSTABLE TOWN Lewis Kidd, Damen Pickering, Shane Wood, captain, Fabio Bufano, Graeme Buchanan, Jonathan Barnett, Moses Olaleye, cautioned, Jonathan Cooper, goal, 5 minutes, Lee Roache, NATHAN FRATER, Blues’ man of the match, two goals, 58 and 82 minutes, Tony Burnett, goal, 47 minutes. Substitutes used – Chris Francis, Leon Cashman and Lucas Flood. Not used – Adam Mead and George Brinkman.
HADLEY Russell Garland, Sam Karagozlu, Jake Panayiotou, Tom Milton, cautioned, Tony Sabag, Alexis Nicholas, Rob Quattromini, Nick Chrysanthou, Dom Petrucci, Dan Quattromini, goal, 14 minutes, Tinoi Christie. Substitutes- Billy Jones, Mark Dawson, Marc Campbell, Josh Noyes and Dan Bishop.
Officials- referee, Jeff Aldous, assisted by Victor Sharan and John Chidley, all Bedfordshire. All three had good games.