• Richard Scott

Young Lions roar.....

Written by Andrew Madaras,picture by Chris White.

The postponement of the First team’s away match at Bedford Town meant that Simon Reilly & Colin Lauder’s Development Team were supported yesterday by a good number of Blues fans eager to cheer on the young guns in this second round tie of the Beds FA Intermediate Cup tie against Cranfield Utd’s reserve side, who had dispensed with Sandy’s senior side a week ago in a 10 – 0 demolition. With Simon unavailable, it meant that Colin Lauder, Val Qoku and Samir, took the reins for the early 2 pm kick off. The presence of Charlie Black, Nathan Mullings and James Lauder in the starting X1 demonstrated the seriousness the management duo were taking this tie and the competition as a whole. Away victory at Ampthill on the 27th October in the previous round had been a closely fought affair which had required maximum effort and concentration from all concerned to secure a 2 – 0 victory. Saturday was no different, as Cranfield scored two late second half goals to peg back a resurgent Blues the game was tied 3 - 3 at the 90 minutes, forcing the game to go to penalties. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The man in question, Ben Lincoln, Development Team goalkeeper and Manager, Colin Lauder’s Man of The Match. Ben is only 16 years old and has been thrust into senior football having been promoted from Tyler Dunnell’s successful Under 18’s squad. Ben already has the maturity and stature of a man beyond his years, and this was evident yesterday as he produced two top drawer saves in the penalty shoot-out in addition to several other fine saves during the course of the 90 minutes. Cranfield have an enviable set up for many at this level in non-league football and with a pitch that stayed true and even. Great credit to their ground staff and back room team for preparing the pitch and facilities to such high standards. A pretty even start saw the Blues make one or two inroads towards the back lines of the men in red shits. A Sam Afolabi effort fizzed over on 7 minutes and a mazy run by the energetic and industrious Nathan Mullings deserved better with 20 minutes gone on the clock. It wasn’t all one- way traffic, Cranfield were there not to just make up the numbers but to show their game as well. Without a programme or team sheet you’ll have to excuse my lack of knowledge on the Cranfield players names, but they were well marshalled in defence and kept their shape, making it difficult for Dunstable to get their own game started. On 35 minutes Cranfield went ahead with a strong finish past Ben Lincoln, who had to be smartly on his toes just before half time to stop the Blues going into the half time break two goals down. Sandwiched in-between all of this action at the wrong end of the field if you were a Dunstable supporter, came a half chance for Charlie Black following good work again down the wing from Nathan Mullings. At half time Colin & Val rallied the troops and reminded them that they had not been at their best, which was pretty much the same topic of conversation had by supporters over their half time cups of tea. Play to our strengths, keep the ball on the ground and let our playmakers express themselves was the rallying call. And just as everyone had hoped, Dunstable came out for the second half all guns blazing and got back on level terms through the man from Dublin’s fair city, Sam Afolabi, with a well taken goal following good work on the flank from Charlie Black. This was just the tonic for the troops that the sizable and noisy Dunstable support had hoped for. Charlie Black almost found his name on the scoresheet less than five minutes later, with only a last ditch tackle and some brave goalkeeping keeping him from putting Dunstable ahead. Fifteen minutes later though Charlie Black did put the young Blues ahead with a cheeky finish following good preparatory work from Ehban Nancarrow-Martin & Nathan Mullings. Cranfield’s response was to throw men forward in search of an equaliser. Ben Lincoln stood strong and stood tall and made a couple of fine saves at crucial moments to keep the Blues lead intact. The defence needed to stand up and be counted and all performed their tasks rigorously. On 70 minutes Dunstable extended their lead as Nathan Mullings scored the third following good work form Kuda Sangoya who intercepted a pass in midfield and ran at the Cranfield back line. Nathan still had work to do, but his finish past a retreating defender should, we all thought, have put the game to bed. A fourth would have been icing on the cake and so nearly came on 82 minutes when Nathan Mullings unselfishly squared the ball for Callum who was expertly denied by the Cranfield keeper. This piece of inspired goalkeeping appeared to give the home side fresh heart and a minute later they had got a goal back with an excellent cross ball and finish with 8 minutes and stoppage time still to play, Dunstable were further rocked on their heels when with still a couple of minutes remaining Cranfield got the equaliser which took the game into penalties and the chance for Ben Lincoln to write his name into DTFC folklore. Credit and thanks to our hosts who not only contributed to a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable spectacle to watch, but also provided generous hospitality afterwards for players and coaches. Credit also to the remaining Dunstable players not already mentioned (Russell, Darnell, Kavell, Bay, Scott, Jordan, Kamran) for digging in and ultimately getting the all important result which sees Dunstable progress into the semi-final of the Intermediate Cup. A final observation has to be to give praise to the excellent work that goes on behind the scenes ,often unnoticed and unpublicised, by the Youth Team Coaches who lay the foundations for Tyler Dunnell to shine the gem stones such as Ben Lincoln to make the almost seamless transition from the Under 18’s to the Development Team and for Simon, Colin & Val to continue to produce players ready to make the step up from Development to First team. This pathway that the Club is establishing is already starting to pay dividends and it would surely only be a foolish person who would think that Ben and Tyler will be the only ones who will make the step up from the Under 18s to the Development Team and that James, Bay and Sam will be the only ones stepping up from the Development Team this season. One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town FC. 


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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