BARKING HOUNDED DOWN
Barking 0-3 Dunstable Town (HT 0-0) Attendance 80
Both Dunstable managers, Darren Croft and Paul Reeves reminisced briefly before the game about their last trip to Mayesbrook Park, when a rampant Dunstable Town had won 6-2, and there were two survivors from that team in the shape of veteran goal keeper Paul Taylor, playing his 601st game today, and Jonathan Barnett. In the corresponding fixture at Creasey Park, Dunstable had won 5-0 and the scorer of all five goals (all in the first half, as I recall) was Grant Carney, a spectator today, since his son Newman was in the starting eleven.
Dunstable had a fairly comfortable win in this third meeting with the Essex Senior League side, who like the Duns had known seasons at a higher level. Indeed Barking were once a notable force in their days at their former ground, and for a while the Victoria Stadium, and were now in the process of regenerating the club. They have, of course had some very successful seasons at Mayesbrook Park.
A good start in the Vase was a requirement and an expectation after the surprise loss at Long Buckby last season, and it was achieved quietly and almost undemonstratively. The win was probing and workmanlike, with a sound defence and a dominant midfield where many chances were conceived.
Barking seemed very wary of their visitors and oddly, for a home side, elected to play just a solitary striker and five across the middle. Even so it was Dunstable who enjoyed the greater possession in the opening spell and indeed they looked the more creative force in attack. A shower or two had made the surface a little tricky in a game that seemed to be played at a moderate to brisk pace. Dunstable reduced the pace as they were content to build patiently from midfield and probed carefully before commitment to attack.
They were not shy of interchanges and square passes to circumvent the wall of midfielders/defenders, but for a good spell could do little to finish with final accuracy. Wayne Mills showed flashes of vision with his crosses, aided by some subtle play from Newman Carney. Jonathan Cooper enjoyed some consistent moments of possession and Tony Burnett was a real presence on the flank.
There was a ripple of concern for the home keeper’s errant kicking, with a routine goal kick or two arriving unexpectedly at the feet of a Dunstable player who sent it forward again, and Chris Clark was indeed the busier of the two keepers. Jonathan Barnett was in the thick of things and his crosses also gave the keeper and defenders some work to do. It was only from free kicks that the hosts had a decent lok in at this stage – one from Crossley was headed clear by Shane Wood before Moses Olaleye, combining with Cooper and Mead saw a fine clearance from Sam Dennis. Dunstable forsook proper control of the ball in their opponents’ penalty area. But Clark saved well when Barnett, lurking on the right, sent in a free kick.
Barking’ s first real effort came following a Houghton free kick and Dan Mackin tried his luck, his shot clearing the bar.
A Mills free kick aimed at Roache saw Clark adeptly deny the Dunstable top scorer, and then Houghton shot wide for the hosts. A good combination involving Mills, Barnett, Roache and Carney saw the final effort from Olaleye clear the bar.
With Burnett over hitting the next cross, there was some concern that these chances needed to produce a goal. Cooper put one over the bar following a bit of artistry – but a definite warning was given when Liddiard was able to break free on his own and fire one in. It was wide but it came from a quick midfield clearance. As well as this, there was a bit of action in the penalty area when Roache was doing his usual thing, but being dispossessed it led to another home chance, with Welsh firing in a weak shot against Taylor.
The next attack from Dunstable was as elaborate in construction as those beforehand, but seemed to lack urgency – but a handball offence gave another free kick , a low effort from Barnett that was cleared, and it led to a counter move where Sam Dennis saw his shot blocked by Shane Wood.
The cunning Carney set up Roache for a pass to Mills whose cross was gathered by Clark. Following another ponderous attack culminating from a number of passes, Barking broke free and Mackin’s shot was well on target, bringing a good save from Taylor. His counterpart Clark had another erroneous clearance that Cooper sent back, but over the bar.
Tony Burnett showed willingness and fortitude on the flank but tended to get mixed up in traffic, yet he did put in a cross or two. Apart from the lonely Liddiard there was some good stuff from Mackin who again put one wide. Burnett was the provider for Dunstable’s best effort when Roache looked like scoring but Clark saved magnificently. Dunstable plugged away but lacked the finish and for a poor tackle a Barking player was booked. This took some time as the referee had to verify the player’s name, whose wonderful appellation on my team sheet was GB- Dumaita-Dumebi, understandably known to the locals as DD.
But we had more or less reached half-time and there was no score. Dunstable had shaded it but both teams had lacked the clinical finish. The interval gave me a chance to say hello to the tardy Regiment who had pushed it close by quaffing mighty flagons in a local hostelry before they graced our presence in the rainy Mayesbrook Park. I agreed with our Spartan League representative whose summation was that Dunstable had the greater possession, had been more creative, but did not as yet have much to show for it.
There were perhaps fifteen Dunstable supporters dotted around the ground and those I spoke too were optimistic about the second half. I personally dreaded a replay since it would mean burning the midnight oil to get a programme done for Tuesday, and I did think of the times that Dan and Scottie must have done this. You never appreciate a job until you have to do it yourself is a truism.
Barking were kicking towards their covered end that held the bulk of their supporters in a sizeable covered terrace. I anticipated a lively start as doubtless there had been exhortations as well as constructive criticism from the respective managers. The home side were more in earnest and they put together some promising stuff thwarted though it was. A Barnett fee kick was punched clear by Clark, who did the same from a vehement corner. Then there was a sparkling shot from Liddiard that Taylor tipped over – it looked routine but it was a fine save from an equally fine shot. Tays punched out the corner and looked to be enjoying his recall to duty – which was necessary since Lewis Kidd as a loan player, was ineligible to play in the Vase. Roache was penalised for a high kick and Turner’s free kick was held by Taylor. Fabio Bufano, who had been solid throughout cleared a dangerous cross. Carney was deceptively tentative in his play but he looked for the optimum angle and right distance for crosses- showing that his Luton days had implanted a degree of perception. But one of his chances was way too high. O’Brien had a blocked shot for the home side before Dennis became the second of their three cautions of the game. Houghton, much livelier now won a corner, which he took himself, to see Taylor palm it away from danger. Taylor had to deal with two more such crosses as the hosts pressed.
On the hour mark Carney was substituted by Chris Francis and shortly after Graeme Buchanan, sporting a wispy bit of chin growth to complement his orange boots came on or the industrious but tiring Barnett. As it happens these substitutions had some sway as it was Buchanan who was the architect of the first goal that was admirable for its sheer simplicity. Buchanan or ‘G’ as he is known to the Regiment, intercepted an intended pass and sent the ball right through the middle to the awaiting Lee Roache, who without defenders to harry him deftly gave his side the lead. It was a simple exploitation of an unintentional home error and came after seventy minutes. Conceived s a soft goal to concede, Barking set about matters with some aggression. A cross from Philips looked likely but the striker slipped at the vital moment. Bufano defended well from a Liddiard incursion, and Dunstable needed to be stable here.
The best answer to this was another goal and on seventy-nine minutes it came, inevitably from Roache – or so you would think. But it was substitute Chris Francis, well capable of the ‘mazy run’ did so after intercepting an intended pass – and his pass to Roache saw the top marksman attempt a bicycle kick that had more art than matter and when the ball cannoned out to Francis he finished off the move that he had started.
This was an undoubted blow to the hosts who had received little change from their short burst of attacking play. They were second best in midfield and found no way through the Dunstable back four with Mills and Mead always ready to send the ball away along the flanks for another crack at Clark.
Clark, for all his good work was in error when following a Dunstable free kick six minutes from time, failed to gather appropriately and Roache needed little invitation to go round him and pop home his seventeenth goal of the season in all competitions. Barking concluded matters by making every effort to gain a compensatory goal and substitute Reynolds came the closest with a late but inaccurate effort.
Dunstable deserved their win with a proper attitude. They had every respect for their opponents and chiselled away until the breakthrough. They made the most of errors which sis necessary. But there was – a few minutes before the end, another error from Clark and this gave Francis, unexpectedly, an open goal. Incredibly he missed- striking the foot of the post and the arch opportunist Roache followed up by hitting wide – for shame, you fellows.
As I gathered the kit after the game Chris Francis asked me nicely not to mention the open goal miss. Well, how could I ?
So Dunstable go into the hat for Monday’s draw and some prize money will be welcome from today. But most important is the chance to progress in the Vase to see if this team can emulate the one that reached the fifth round two seasons ago where they faced an ebullient Whitley Bay.
I was surprised to learn that AFC had gone out of the Vase 1-3 at home to Hatfield town. News from our division is that all games were drawn except one- where Ampthill Town walloped Holmer Green 8-2 away at Airedale Park.
Speaking of Holmer Green, it is necessary for DTFC supporters to cross through the home game against them on Saturday 17 November, as owing to today’s success the Duns will be involved in the Second Round Proper of the FA Vase.
Chris Clark, Nathan Philip, Sam Dennis, cautioned, Scott Walsh, captain, cautioned, Ben Turner, Sean Crossley, Stuart Houghton (Reynolds), Ben O’Brien, Chas Liddiard, GB Dumatia-Dumebi, cautioned, Dan Mackin (Barlow).
Subs not used – John Moeger, Gary Strongman.
Paul Taylor, WAYNE MILLS, DTFC man of the match, Daniel Mead, Fabio Bufano, Shane Wood, captain, Jonathan Barnett, (Buchanan), Moses Olaleye, Tony Burnett, (Brinkman), Lee Roache, two goals, 70 and 84 minutes, Newman Carney(Francis – goal, 60 minutes.)
Subs not used – Mark Boyce and Damen Pickering.
Officials – referee Rick Bloy, Basildon, Essex, assisted by Jamie Pope, Hockley, Essex, and N’n Aemekah Ukah, Westcliff-on Sea, Essex.