ANOTHER HAT-TRICK FOR LEE ROACHE IN CUP TIE
Spartan South Midlands Challenge Trophy First Round Hales Ley United 0-6 Dunstable Town (HT 0-1)
Although missing four first choice players, Dunstable filled the gaps nicely with a return for Wayne Mills, with a recall for Jonathan Barnett and a debut first team performance from Newman Carney. The game was scheduled for a two-thirty kick-off and was played in a noticeably blustery wind. With no shelter apart for the mobile dugouts we were all thankful that it did not rain.
Our opponents ply their trade in the Spartan Second division and although they held out gamely for a full half hour they were systematically taken apart in a one-sided second half.
But in that half hour there were many chances for Dunstable that they somehow conspired to miss, as well as hitting the woodwork on two occasions inside a minute some time later.
The Blues began in earnest and thought they were ahead after thirteen minutes when Roache finished a rather smart move from midfield involving Mills and Cooper but this was adjudged to have been off-side. Whilst successive chances for Dunstable were somehow spurned, the hosts had a decent chance to draw level and Blues ‘keeper Kidd committed a foul just outside the area, received a caution and then, like the rest of us, watched whilst the free-kick was send skywards by Roni Joe. Nathan Frater received an injury, hobbling off to hospital (from where he later returned on crutches) and Damen Pickering came on as substitute.
With Mead and Mills very active on the flanks, Dunstable continued to push for a more comfortable lead, but home keeper Aaron Whiter was able to thwart looked like certain goals. He saved well from Roache and blocked a shot from Cooper, as we as clearing another effort virtually on the goal line. Shortly after this activity Chris Francis had one of a number of good runs along the flank before cutting in to shoot, and the first of these was also dealt with by White.
But it was Cooper, with some initial assistance from Barnett, who scored first, his shot finding the top left corner after thirty-one minutes. A Dunstable free kick just outside the area rattled the post. Hales Ley were restricted to shots from range none of which troubled Kidd. A Mills up and under fell fortuitously to Roache who brought the ball neatly under control and advanced only to shoot wide when he ought to have scored.
To be leading by just one goal at the interval was not deemed satisfactory given the number of chances and overall domination, but this was remedied almost immediately upon resumption.
With a now favourable wind, the Blues once again made an earnest start, and Roache’s shot from range after just two minutes in this second half. Was only partially dealt with by White who could do little about the predatory Cooper following up to double his tally and his team’s advantage with a low shot to the bottom left corner.
The hosts reacted positively and they never ceased trying to carve out some compensatory chance but firing from range they were never likely to succeed and one or two better chances suffered from a misreading of the final passes. Ten minutes into the half Roache made it three-nil with a simple finish and he underlined his freedom to roam two minutes later by adding his second. There was a strange moment when the Hales Ley defence stopped entirely, anticipating a whistle for an infringement that never came and Francis merely carried on by himself and only stopped by the keeper’s alertness.
But it was mostly Dunstable now, who were in a cruising mode, spreading well and continuing goal bound forays. Francis had a delightful solo run and again was thwarted just by the near post. Barnett hit the post with his effort, and the follow up also struck the woodwork, this being followed by another Francis effort that was well saved. Mark Boyce was the second of the Dunstable substitutes and he replaced Shane Wood. It was not long before Boyce was getting stuck in and a fine header from him was again only partly dealt with and Francis at last bagged the goal he richly deserved.
This fifth goal came after seventy-eight minutes and with the tie safe we were able to speculate about the news of a game elsewhere where Hadley had led Aylesbury United 4-1 only to go down 4-6, and replace Dunstable Town at the top of the table, but the Blues have two games in hand.
Hales Ley United still played for some compensation and again their construction was not so much at fault as was their finishing, with Kidd in little danger of not keeping a clean sheet. Each effort they mustered was either wide or over the bar, with the facing trees seeming to swallow each ball that bruised their leaves.
Yet it was not until seven minutes from time that Roache was able to complete his hat-trick and it came from an embarrassing effort from the hitherto gallant White. In what should have been a routine gather and clear he made what someone near me called a mucking fess of it and Roache, having ensnared the ball had the simple job of running in with it and banging it over the line. So, it was a job well done with six goals without reply. The worry was Nathan Frater who is ruled out for the game at Pancake Lane on Tuesday.
The Hales Ley manager complimented Dunstable on the manner and style of their win adding it was no disgrace to lose to a team of that quality, which was a gracious comment much appreciated.
The focus returns to the league where the Blues need a good win to regain the top spot they have held since the first game of the season. Needless to say a hard game is expected and our forthcoming opponents had a good win today.
HALES LEY UNITED
Aaron White, Jack Bowers, Jay Wilson, Ben George, Roni Joe, cautioned, Mark Tatum, Daniel Parsons, Troy Bailey-Goss, Unas Ilyas, captain, Nathan Graham, Tom Brindley.
Substitutes- Akeel Khan, Daniel Deane, Benson Myobi.
Lewis Kidd, cautioned, Daniel Mead, Wayne Mills, Shane Wood, captain, Fabio Bufano, Newman Carney, Jonathan Barnett, Jonathan Cooper, two goals, 31 and 47 minutes, Lee Roache, HAT-TRICK, 55, 57 and 83 minutes, Chris Francis, goal, 78 minutes, Nathan Frater.
Substitutes – Mark Boyce, on for Shane Wood and Damen Pickering on for Nathan Frater.
Officials- Referee , M Barnes assisted by M De La Fuente and M Meadows.