DOWN AND OUT WITH NINE MEN
DUNSTABLE TOWN 1 LEWES 4 HT 0-4 ATTENDANCE 102
This was a most curious game. Lewes had a comfortable 4-0 lead at the interval and then faced a Dunstable revival that brought just one goal as compensation but the additional loss of two players to injury, reducing them to nine men in the course of the second half. All permitted substitutes had been used. Why curious? Well, with a degree of irony Dunstable ‘won’ the second half and the nine men played as if they had a few more players on the pitch. Lewes, by way of contrast, lost their command of the game and seemed almost disinclined to add to their first half tally. They had racked up their lead and probably expected more goals.
This was the third FA Trophy meeting with the Sussex side – and all at Creasey Park. The first was in 1984/5, which Dunstable lost 2-3. The second was in 2003/4 and Lewes won 2-1 – and I remember that game as being very close and competitive. Today’s Lewes play in the Bostik (Isthmian League) South, where they currently top the table.
There were six changes to the Dunstable team that had narrowly lost to Kings Langley on Tuesday. Attila Für continued in goal as regular keeper Casey Harker’s injury proved to be worse than anticipated. Four regular first- team players were on the substitutes’ bench and that enabled starts for Ben Collins, Kieran Ogden, Justin Koeries and Sam Odusoga.
This proved to be a very testing time for the reshuffled home team and they were soon on the defensive as Lewes began to probe immediately. Eventual Charles Coppola soon tested Attila Für with a shot that was deflected for one of a number of corners for the visitors in the opening period. Für looked determined to atone for his performance at Kings Langley where he had conceded a penalty after bringing down a player and it proved to be the only goal of the game.
Lewes had looked particularly dangerous along the left flank but their opening goal came from an angled shot from the right, scored by their skipper Lloyd Cotton. Lewes had played with efficiency, passing the ball well and constructing good forward moves and they finished accurately. The first goal was timed at twelve minutes, and Cotton had a chance for a second which he lofted over the crossbar.
An industrious Wilfred Grimaud proved to be an able assistant with measured passes that accounted for the next two goals. He cut in from the inside-left position (pardon my archaic terminology) and eluding challenges he picked out Coppola who scored on twenty-three minutes and seven minutes later with an almost replicated move he bagged his second and his team’s third.
We have been here before of course, but one of the best features of the current Dunstable team is that they never see a game as finished in terms of competitiveness. They play at full throttle until the end and external voices (ie those from other clubs) are quick to point this out. I used to think that they were just being kind or euphemistic but now I accept that they are sincere. It is the recognition of potential and as decidedly youthful team grows in experience, so results will improve.
It is said that when you are on the wrong end of results that nothing seems to go right and that did seem so today, and right at the end of the half time Jamie Brotherton scored the visitors’ fourth goal. In many ways that was a small problem since before the second half had grown whiskers Dunstable were down to nine men, and paradoxically, playing the better football and only bagging one goal for their pains.
Substitutions were made rapidly – the home side putting on all three for the resumption, namely Gedeon Okito (Sam Odusoga), Lanre Ladipo (Justin Koeries) and Peter Kioso (Brandy Makeuendi). This was to beef the team up and Lewes employed Harry Reed (Steven Brinkhurst), Jonte Smith (Lloyd Cotton), and Frankie Chappel (Alex Mallins). For Lewes it had a deleterious effect on their established superiority – for, although four goals to the bad, Dunstable showed commendable spirit and played the better football in this period.
The risk of employing maximum substitutes was clearly evident when the hosts lost not one but two players to injury and they played near half an hour with nine men – yet it did not seem the case – and I was asked more than once by some spectators if we were really down to nine men. Valiant though they were it still gives manager Tony McCool a headache for his squad selection for the club’s biggest trial of the season – away at Hereford on Tuesday evening. This was not yet established but we did learn that Hereford spanked Weymouth 4-1 in their FA Trophy game.
The game had its ragged moments of handbags and heartfelt appeals to the referee for the dismissal, beheading or at the very least, community service for the perceived dodgy tackles. Before this, Dunstable had some recompense when Aaron Hudson scored a fine goal in the fifty-fifth minute. They deserved it.
First, the scorer, Aaron Hudson, was literally carried from the field and then there were ten. Not long after Kieran Ogden took a knock in a collision and he too hobbled looking a sorry sight when he emerged from the tunnel to see the remainder of the game. It seemed hard to comprehend – Dunstable were down to nine men and still pushing forward. With nine against eleven it seemed inevitable that the visitors would capitalise, but they were curiously lacking the clinical finish they had exhibited in the first half.
Some robust and not always legitimate tackles were in evidence which pushed the game into the ‘difficult’ category from ‘average’ and the referee did his best to keep his cards in his pocket. It seemed to me that there was a degree of frustration at the loss of rhythm from the visitors, who would no doubt liked to have added more names to their score sheet, and also from the home side who still find it hard satisfactorily to complete promising moves with a goal.
Orei-Bonsu perhaps came closest but with such a deficit defeat was perhaps inevitable, yet it was not entirely quixotic in nature. Importantly, no heads went down but it does strongly suggest that the best tonic for Dunstable is a good clear win.
Hereford’s dispatching of Weymouth in the FA Trophy means that the Tuesday evening league fixture (31Oct) is definitely on. Given the big match atmosphere (in terms of the expected attendance) at the very least this gives a big stage for our improving team to rise to the occasion. It has been a fact that, in the past when the team has come up against one of the big guns they have ‘upped their game’ and this could happen again. We do not need reminding of how Hereford, as Hereford United, showed how the minnow can defeat the shark, in their famous FA cup exploits.
Yes, it was disappointing overall today – but we may take heart that nine men against eleven did so well. Having now taken leave of all cup competitions this season, Dunstable have no choice but to ‘concentrate on the league.’ It is, of course, the highest priority to remain in the current division and continue to develop the team. We hope too that the injuries sustained are not as bad as they looked but I doubt it.
So Lewes return to Sussex with the win and the prize money and the chance of more in the next round – and Dunstable have to assess their performance and go to Hereford in the knowledge that a good many neutrals as well as the partisans would love to see an upset.
Attila Fur, Ben Collins, Kieran Ogden, retired, injured, Brandy Makuendi, (Peter Kioso, 45), John Sonuga (Captain), Daniel Trif, Aaron Hudson, GOAL, 55, retired injured, Sam Odusoga, (Gedeon Okito, 45, cautioned, Justin Koeries, (Lanre Ladipo, 45), Andrew Osei-Bonsu, cautioned, Saul Williams. Other substitute – Scott Betts.
Christopher Winterton, Steven Brinkhurst, (Harry Reed), Matthew George, James Hammond, Matthew Hurley, Alexander Mallins, (Frankie Chappel), Bouwe Bosma, Lloyd Cotton, Captain, GOAL, 12, (Jonte Smith), Jamie Brotherton, GOAL, 45+1, Wifred Grimaud, Charles Coppola, TWO GOALS, 25 and 30 minutes), other substitutes – Ghasssimu Sow and Ronnie Conlon.
Referee- Sunhvir Gill, assisted by Stephen Williams and Nicholas Garside.