Lincoln The Hero as Young Duns Go For It.
Written by Andrew Madaras, Pictures by Chris White.
Hillgrounds, the home of Kempston Rovers FC, resembled a home match for the victorious Development Team on Wednesday night such was the remarkable level of support from Dunstable Town supporters who came out in their numbers to support the boys. Rather disappointingly the Beds FA is yet (four days after the match) to update it’s website to record the score and list the attendance. Estimates of a crowd between 175 and 200 people, I doubt will not be far off the mark, with at least half being Dunstable supporters. The game had everything, thrills, spills, woodwork rattling, three penalties, all missed, heroic last ditch defending, a winning goal for comeback man, Mark Reilly, fresh off the subs bench, and a Man of The Match display from 16 year old goalkeeper, Ben Lincoln, who was just outstanding from start to finish and displayed nerves of steel and a maturity way beyond his years to help the three gaffers bring back the silverware to Creasey Park. In the 4th minute Dunstable were awarded a penalty as Russell Wilson, played in by Callum Shortt, was fouled in the box as he headed towards goal. Up stepped Ehban Nancarrow-Martin whose well hit shot was expertly saved by the Henlow goalkeeper. Ehban didn’t let his head drop and did his job for the Team. His well placed free kick on 17 minutes was again well saved by the Henlow stopper. Five minutes later and Henlow were awarded a penalty themselves which young Ben saved confidently. The rebound fell kindly for the Henlow forwards though who couldn’t keep the ball down and thankfully for Dunstable the ball cleared the crossbar. A deadball routine for Henlow caused the Dunstable defence all kinds of worries with a fine free kick rebounding off the crossbar. Henlow, from Division 1 of the Beds County League, were well organised and clearly up for the game. Their team contained a good combination of young players with skill and flair and some more senior, seasoned men who all gave a good account of themselves and were excellent and sporting opponents. Minutes into the second half and Callum Shortt hit the bar with a powerful drive. The game then settled into a pretty even contest with both sides contesting midfield. Henlow were unlucky again just past the hour as Ben Lincoln was able to push a goal bound shot onto the crossbar and away to safety. Ten minutes later and that man Ben Lincoln pulled off an incredible double save to keep the scores level. With the rules permitting rolling substitutions Dunstable used all five of their allotted subs with good effect. On 75 minutes a double substitution saw Sam Afolabi replace Ehban Nancarrow-Martin, and Mark Reilly, returning from injury, replacing Callum Shortt. An outstanding piece of determined play saw Cameron Wynard chase down, what seemed a lost cause but he got there and was able to put enough weight on his cross for Mark Reilly to tap the ball home and put the young Duns ahead. Hillgrounds erupted. Minutes later Kuda Sangoya nearly made it two. If you thought that Henlow were going to let their heads drop you had a rude awakening. There may have been only 5 minutes left on the clock when Mark Reilly scored but in the remaining five minutes plus stoppages, Henlow were awarded another penalty in controversial circumstances, which to the Dunstable players, staff & supporters relief went over the bar, before, a minute later, Ben Lincoln made his final contribution to the nights events pulling off another fine save as Henlow played to the very last whistle. Cue scenes of jubilation and happiness, no doubt with a measure of relief as well, because Henlow played their part in what was a very enjoyable and well contested match. Our best wishes to our opponents. The Club is hugely indebted to the outstanding work over many seasons of Development Team Manager, Simon Reilly, who has had only limited time available to him this season to oversee training and get to matches but able to step into his shoes and carry on his good work has been Coach Colin Lauder and Asst Coach / Player, Val Qoku who have flown the Development Team flag proudly high and watched, just as proud parents do, 14 of this season’s squad get called up for First Team selection. There were many candidates for the Dunstable Town Man of The Match award but I have no hesitation in awarding it to a young man with a very bright future, hopefully at Dunstable Town, Ben Lincoln, whose saves, distribution, ball handling and of course penalty save were exemplary all evening. But a mention also for all the lads who have all been outstanding in their own right this season and have seen the Club finish a hugely creditable third in the Suburban League. Take a bow, Messrs, Wynard, Collins, Muir-Martindale, Fasida, Wilson, Toure, Shortt, Nancarrow-Martin, Khan, Sangoya, Afolabi, Reilly, Lauder, Dunnell, Gale and Lincoln. The Club is rightly very proud of each and every one of you. Thank you for your wonderful achievements this season. One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town.