• Paul Harris



Dunstable Town were last at this ground, in its old form, in April 2004 where they lost to Yeading 1-3 in a Ryman League match. Today was nominally the fourth meeting of the clubs, the first being a meeting (in 1978) in the FA Trophy with Hayes, who won 2-1. In August 2003, with an attendance of 171, Dunstable lost their home league match to eventual champions of the Ryman league, North Division. Dunstable finished fourth. So, the visitors had not won in these three meetings, and today ended that sequence, with a solitary first half strike by Alex Cathline, who followed up on a fierce shot from David Keenleyside, which the goalkeeper parried into the path of the predatory Cathline.

Beaconsfield Road is a ground in development at the tail end of an industrial estate in an unprepossessing part of Middlesex. From the dug outs you look at an imposing new stand, which will be all the more magnificent (and, I was told, of League Two standard) when the work is finished. The seats are there but the rest is still a bare shell, and temporary dressing rooms are in use. From this splendid new stand you look out onto the ugly industrial buildings beyond the perimeter. There is a good deal of unkempt foliage straight ahead, from which what looks like a superannuated water tower stands sentinel and in the far distance a crenelated structure that suggests misdeeds in the Gothic tradition. The sound of trains rumbled in the distance.

I was met by very helpful and friendly officials and received a programme that was informative and very well presented. Dunstable manager Tony Fontenelle revealed a new signing, a chap that revels in the name of Vences Bola, who made his debut as a late substitute. Hayes and Yeading had two debutants in the form of Keir Dixon and Sam Humphreys. Jhai Dhillon, my Dunstable man of the match, was returning to a club he had played for once, but the old tradition of making such players captain of the day has seem to have fallen into disuse.

We kicked off three minutes late and I was contemplating the home club motto -‘Porro Simul’. I was wondering if it was translated as ‘Forward at once’ or ‘Forward together’. The club favours the latter and in many respects they lived up to this, even if it was an appreciable time before they actually had a rally meaningful shot on target. In the last five league games, Hayes and Yeading had only won once and drawn a couple, and Dunstable had recorded three wins, but all by a narrow one goal margin. It looked like and turned out to be, a very close match.

Home supporters were upbeat and a lingering chant from one section of the stand reminded us that we are ‘just a small club near Luton’ but the intention was derisory rather than being a statement of geographical fact. In common with other clubs they also made the exaggerated observation that Dunstable had more flags than fans, and of course, no-one objects to a good bit of banter, but, for the record, we exceeded the number of flags by a good half dozen, which is not at all a boast, but a plaintive admission.

Dunstable kicked off and they led the first sortie with Jhai Dhillon playing like he wished to prove a point. A fine counter from Hayes involving Lloyd Macklin, Keir Dickson and Sam Humphreys culminated in a fair shot from Jimmy shepherd that was punched clear by Jack Smith. There was more good preparatory work from the home club but finishing was negligible and generally off-target. By way of contrast, Dunstable, when they countered, looked just as dangerous and a fine shot on the run, after good work from Danny Green, drew a good save from Louis Wells. Harry grant put a header over the bar for the hosts followed by a Jack Hutchinson shot also needed Wells to make a safe save.

A Hayes/Yeading free kick was defended, and Alex Cathline’s next attempt was blocked. Dickson, after good work in possession, had his pockets picked by a persistent Dhillon and Macklin fluffed his lines with a missed header following an inviting cross. Jack Mills took the corners and they were generally good, but so were the routine Dunstable clearances.

As we approached the half hour mark the first real venomous shot fell to Jack Hutchinson, again saved well by Wells, but shortly after this a Cathline effort went largely unnoticed but the effort actually hit the foot of the post to reach the grateful grasp of Wells. Dhillon was a nuisance on the left flank and his crosses needed dealing with. A Keenleyside corner was headed away for an attempted shot by Danny Talbot but the hosts countered strongly and it needed the timely intervention of Zack Reynolds to thwart the move.

A good move from Macklin and Grant saw the latter fire way too high, and from the next Dunstable attack came the only goal of the game. Hutchinson and Keenleyside were finding more of the play and a fierce shot from the former saw Wells parry but Cathline followed up well and thus the lead was gained amid some indignant comments from those seated around me. But it could not be argued that Dunstable did not deserve the lead – yes it was a rebound, but they had looked the more incisive near goal, and they had defended with precision and confidence.

It was inevitable that the hosts would react strongly and after Talbot had conceded a free kick in a central area twenty-five yards from goal was a little worrying. Tom Broadbent let fly and Smith saved well at the expense of a corner. From this Dickson headed well wide and that drew the half to a close.

When I emerged from the temporary boardroom I was greeted by a steward who very politely ejected me from the stand for the heinous crime of smoking a pipe. I told him there were no signs declaring my illegality, but he told me that the club had ‘not got round to putting them up yet,’ and it is hardly a priority. He was so diplomatic I shook his hand and apologised before joining the rascals from the Regiment behind the goal Dunstable were attacking. One needs a good deal of tolerance in standing with the Regiment - whose language is worse than that of a navvies’ night out on the ale, and of course, their partisan views record that yet again their team was denied a stonewall penalty and were on the wrong end of the majority of decisions.

But I was drawn in, jutting out my jaw and puffing away defiantly as the team defended soundly and looked like scoring at the other end. This is important as there was no question of hanging onto the lead but of adding to it if they could – and indeed they should have done. First Keenleyside had a downward header that lacked momentum and was saved, and a firm shot from Hutchinson was pushed away for a corner. Shane bush lost out on a half chance and another shot from Hutchinson had a hint of handball and was the cue for sustained derisory comments aimed at the man in the middle as well as one of his assistants. All rather routine really. But at the other end there was some activity when a Hayes free-kick was headed just wide. The ubiquitous Hutchinson was again denied by Wells and Cathline was neatly dispossessed whilst on a meaningful run towards goal. A decent cross from Keenleyside was cleared at a stretch and a good chance fell to Dickson whose finish was poor to the disappointment of home supporters who would have liked him to have had a debut goal.

Hayes and Yeading made maximum substitutions in employing Dylan Kearney, Ernest Okah and Yassin Moutaouakil, with the announcer pronouncing his name with a practised ease. Dunstable also used their quota, with Vences Bola making his debut, augmented by David Longe-King and Adam Moussi. Talbot , Hutchinson and Cathline gave way. But that chap Bola ( dubbed already by the Regiment as Ebola and also an infectious player) had an eye for goal and came close to adding his name to the many Dunstable players who have scored on their debuts.

Jack Mills had a shot saved and Bola went for goala and was denied. Smith was momentarily alarmed when Okah fired in and the ball hit the bar before bouncing out of play. A shot from Kearney was saved comfortably. A Dunstable free-kick on the edge of the area from Keenleyside was held by Wells. Pepera and his fellow defenders stood tall and unyielding despite their predilection to concede late free-kicks in dangerous areas to give us all the willies.

Dunstable held firm for what was a fairly decent win. The players thought afterwards that they were now joint top but it turned out that Chippenham are the new leaders, with Dunstable joint second , fourth on goal difference. That is a point – they have scored eight and conceded five, which shows how close the games have been and I will also add that three of those eight goals came in one match, against Merthyr, which ironically, they lost – their only defeat thus far. Our opponents today, when they have lost it has been by a single goal margin and Dunstable wins are equally as slender in terms of goals.

This suggests strongly of just how close the division may be this season, which is no bad thing. My Dunstable man of the match was Jhai Dhillon as I felt his attitude typified the overall team performance. He, as a wing back was confident in possession, timely in the tackle and imaginative in distribution. Mentioned in despatches is the skipper Adam Pepera whose encouragement for his team mates was as sincere as it was voluble.

There were just two cautions, Adam Everitt for the hosts and Adam Moussi for the visitors, whose bit of shirt pulling was too much for the referee. Generally, the match was played in a fairly skilful style despite the tricky wind. Hayes and Yeading officials were as generous in their praise of the opposition as they were courteous and welcoming to me in the board room. They are an ambitious club and erelong will have a stadium that will be of increasingly notable quality. The pitch was lush and invited good play.

Bank Holiday Monday will see Hayes and Yeading visit Slough Town for the inaugural game at their new stadium and it was pleasing to see this match billed as all-ticket – not a normal event for clubs at our level. They are great rivals of course and that will add to the occasion. And talking of rivalry, Dunstable take on Hitchin Town in a one o’clock kick-off. That game will be a feisty affair despite the inter- club friendships that have built up with respective supporters. Tony Fontenelle spoke to me briefly after the game and his message was that we were to take the positives from our recent games and there have been many. He and Dany Talbot have carefully assembled the squad and their apportioned responsibilities for players have been generally successful. Flair in attack has been balanced with grit in defence and confidence in midfield.

For me, I was glad to get ‘permission’ from the wife to attend the match on her birthday, but it did cost me a night away beforehand at a Suffolk farm, with my being as romantic as my years permit. In ‘extra-time’ so to speak, I have also arranged a celebratory lunch with her tomorrow. It is all worth it if your team wins and mine did – yes it was close but the points were gained and I enjoyed the post-match celebrations with the curmudgeonly Regiment, relatively few in number but loyal to the last.


Louis Wells, Jimmy Shepherd, Jim Fenlon, Jack Mills, Harold Joseph, Tom Broadbent, Harry Grant, Adam Everitt, captain, cautioned, Lloyd Macklin, Keir Dickson, Sam Humphreys. Substitutes used – Dylan Kearney, Ernest Okoh and Yassin Moutaouakil.


Jack Smith, Zack Reynolds, Jhai Dhillon, this reporter’s Dunstable man of the match, Danny Talbot (David Longe-king, 70 minutes), Joe Debayo, Adam Pepera, captain, David Keenleyside, Danny green, Alex Cathline, GOAL, 38 minutes, (Vences Bola 75 minutes), Shane Bush, Jack Hutchinson, (Adam Moussi, 82 minutes, cautioned). Other substitutes – Jamie Head, GK, and Wilson Ferreira.

Referee – Michael Lowe, assisted by Stuart Mallows and Nick Blogg, all of whom had generally good games.

#DunstableTownFC #SouthernPremierLeague #football



Dunstable Town Football Club is a members owned football club that is run by the Club Committee

through its annually elected Club Officers, constituting the Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary.

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