REPORT: HITCHIN TOWN
© Liam Smith
Today’s attendance of 273 was the second best of the season and was bolstered by a good following from Hitchin but also by a significant turn out from our friends at the Weatherfield Academy who have been so helpful and supportive to the Club as it makes its’ transition to a sustainable Fan Managed club. We are truly humbled by the unqualified support and generosity of Headmaster Joe Selmes and his wonderful team of staff at the School who have proven to be the perfect partners in what we hope will be a long and fruitful partnership.
Mascots for the day were from both Weatherfield Academy and St Joseph’s FC, who have strong connections with both Dunstable Manager, Tony McCool & Hitchin Manager, Mark Burke.
It was pleasing to learn that there were many season ticket holders from Luton Town & other national league teams. As the Club seeks to increase its’ fan base and core support we are prepared to try different initiatives to see which are commercially successful and which are not. Today, thankfully the offer was well supported with many of those saying how much they had enjoyed the non-league experience and would come back before the end of the season.
In attendance was Andrew Selous the MP for South West Bedfordshire who has been working behind the scenes on the Club’s behalf to open doors to some of the areas bigger employers. Our thanks to Andrew for all his hard work on our behalf and hopefully the first of many visits to the Club.
The deadline day for Southern League Registrations was Thursday 22nd March. Unsurprisingly there were no TV cameras parked at Creasey Park on Thursday, however both Tony & Gareth were working flat out to bring in some new players to bolster the squad ahead of the season run in. In came Nathan Mullings who has graduated from Simon Reilly & Colin Lauder’s Development Side. Talent Conveyer Belt may be a more apt name as Nathan joins former Development Side colleagues, Erin Amu, Ben Collins, Ty Ward, & Kieran Ogden in the First Team. Nathan can feel he did himself proud in his first senior game.
In also came Samuel Kehinde who at 30 years of age has the experience and maturity that Tony & Gareth have looked for to compliment the youthful line ups that we have fielded this season. Samuel came on as a first half substitute and other than scoring a goal on his debut did plenty to suggest that once again Tony & Gareth had chosen wisely having listened to the advice of Colin & Simon who have worked with Sam previously and know his many talents.
Our last signing, Dan Crowie trained with the squad on Thursday but was not available for selection today. Dan has earned his spurs at this level with other Southern League Premier sides, and is well respected as being a strong and skilful Centre half.
One man making his Dunstable Town home debut today was our 9th goalkeeper of the season, Nathan Harness, who had signed on loan the previous week from Stevenage Borough FC. Nathan had made a confident and impressive debut away at Weymouth last week. Will Hunt’s injury is likely to keep him sidelined for the next few weeks so it was indeed a pleasure to see Will supporting his team mates from the sidelines as was Peter Kioso who was serving the last of his two match suspension.
As at Weymouth Lanre Ladipo stepped in to replace Peter and performed his task diligently and with great commitment.
Before some spectators had even manged to take up their positions with both the bar and the hot food doing a roaring trade, Hitchin found themselves a goal up in the second minute with Josh Bickerstaff heading in from a corner. The experienced Matt Spring rolled back the years and had whipped in a free kick with accuracy and power which found a Hitchin head causing Nathan Harness to make an excellent reflex save. From the resulting corner, Josh Bickerstaff rose highest and powered Hitchin ahead.
With the wind in their sails and buoyed by the early lead, Hitchin looked to extend their lead but were thwarted until the 24th minute when Jonny McNamara scored the first of his two goals for the afternoon seizing an opportunity on the edge of the box. Dunstable looked to come back and kept plugging away but found the Hitchin midfield and backline in uncompromising mood. As hard as Dunstable tried, Hitchin defenders were on their game and gave little away.
A third Hitchin goal and the second for Man of The Match ,Jonny McNamara on 33 minutes put paid to the result being in any doubt and a fourth goal on 40 minutes, a penalty converted by Lucas Kirkpatrick, was the icing on the cake for Hitchin. Tony & Gareth made changes bringing on Sam Kehinde and Ben Collins in place of Nathan Mullins and Ethan Lamptey.
The second half saw a competitive fightback from Dunstable which despite the absence of any goals proved to be an engaging encounter with the two sides appearing more evenly matched with both goalkeepers being forced to make smart saves. Hitchin will feel satisfied that they did their Manager proud in following his instructions and putting in a thoroughly professional performance.
Tony & Gareth can also feel some satisfaction that a much stronger second half from Dunstable gave us reasons to feel positive and upbeat as we look forward to the arrival of Slough Town on Friday 30th March, kick off time 3pm. They also know better days lie ahead and the support of the fans and committee remains unwavering and absolute.
The Match Referee was full of praise for Alex Ward who he felt deserved to be made the Dunstable Town Man of The Match, but there were creditable performances from Dunstable players in all positions.
Fans are reminded of the Supporters’ Forum being held at the L&D Social Club on Lewsey Road which will be attended by Tony & Gareth as well as Committee members on Wednesday 28th March at 7 30pm. Please come and have your say on club matters or ask any question you want. No topics are off limit.
The collection for the Dunstable Foodbank was a great success but with so many in our community facing daily economic struggles I would like to urge you all to give as generously as you are able to and donate which ever foodstuffs you feel able to at our game against Slough on Good Friday.
In case you are unaware the Club will be providing a coach to take the players and supporters to Frome for the last game of the season on April 28th. There are still spaces available but demand has been high so please let either myself or Ian Bateman know if you wish to come with us. The cost is £25 return.
We are Dunstable Town, never bowed, never giving up.