A scintillating display of attacking football from Dunstable Town was rewarded with a much-needed three points at Rothamsted Park on Saturday afternoon. In a game where recent heavy rain made conditions underfoot slippery and a swirling wind blowing, goals looked certain. What I suspect many of the bumper crowd of 137 didn’t expect was a nine goal thriller with five of them scored by the away team and both sides hitting the woodwork.
Dunstable were able to welcome back the centre back pairing of Joseph Debayo and Gregg Douglas. George Mulonda, Joe Hankins and Dan Gould all started having served recent suspensions.
From kick off Dunstable took the game to their hosts who featured former Blues, Ryan Plowright, George Naismith and Lewis Todd in their ranks.
Dunstable so nearly went ahead with only six minutes on the clock when skipper Chris Stapleton’s header came off the woodwork. This was a positive start from Dunstable as the Team looked to restore some pride following Tuesday night’s heavy defeat to Eyensbury Rovers. Overall Dunstable had the better of the early exchanges but having survived the early Dunstable pressure, Harpenden came back strongly and Dunstable needed the composure of Debayo and the safe hands of Gould to keep scores level.
On 18 minutes an inviting cross from the right just needed a yellow shirt on the end of it to have given the hosts the lead but Harpenden did go ahead on 21 minutes following a mix up at the back enabling Jake Anthony to score the first goal of his hat trick.
The question in the minds of the sizable Dunstable support was how the lads would react. Any anxieties on that score were quickly eased just ten minutes later when a defence splitting ball from George Mulonda was finished with precision by Chris Stapleton. It was a deserved equaliser and gave the lads the confidence to press forward in numbers.
Mulonda was unlucky not to add his own name to the scoresheet two minutes later with a sweetly struck half volley only narrowly wide.
A minute later a superb piece of opportunism saw Tommy Twelves put Dunstable 2-1 up, and then up popped Joe Hankins on 38 minutes to put the Blues 3-1 up. Three goals in just seven minutes. Joe’s goal was the final act of a good team move engineered by Oladejo & Smith-Reid.
Dan Gould pulled off an important save just before the break and just when you thought he’d done enough to keep a two goal cushion going into the break, Harpenden pulled one back from the spot in the dying seconds.
Temi Oladejo put in an inviting corner at the start of the second half but a Blue head could only direct it out for a free kick.
Moments later Harpenden were back on level terms with Dan Gould unable to prevent Mulik from equalising.
Heads didn’t drop and the spirit of the Team was evident even when Harpenden took the lead on the hour mark with Anthony claiming his hat trick.
More goals seemed inevitable as both teams looked for the all important next goal. Roy Byron was replaced by Marlon Burton and Gould again needed to be alert to keep out Harpenden.
On 66 minutes Dunstable were back level. Chris Stapleton netting for the second time in the afternoon. The pass he received from Louis Octave out on the right and a full 35 yards away was perfection.
4-4 and with nearly 25 minutes plus stoppages left to play both teams pressed for the winner.
Louis Octave needed to produce an important tackle when Gould’s goal was threatened. Evans Lamboh replaced George Mulonda, and on 81 minutes Dunstable had that little bit of luck which seems to have otherwise escaped them for most of the season. A seemingly impossible overhead kick from a Harpenden player rebounded off the bar into the grateful arms of Dan Gould.
With time ticking down Khy Smith-Reid was replaced by Leonardo Pedro, and it was the latter who received an inch perfect cross from Evans Lamboh to head home sweetly and take all three points back to Creasey Park.
A heavy challenge on Chris Stapleton saw him slump to the ground in the middle of the park clutching his head. Referee Coleman O’Meara beckoned Physio, Rebecca on, and with Chris still receiving treatment in the middle of the field, the referee blew his whistle for full time, and at the twelfth time of trying this season the Blues finally got a well deserved win after 90 minutes. The sense of relief was palpable.
Late goals conceded against Baldock, Aylesbury & Crawley Green have cost Dunstable five points this season, so for once the late goal jinx turned out not to be a jinx but a thoroughly deserved blessing. Praise from the travelling fans for all the players but Gareth Jackson rightly got the loudest cheer from the Regiment as he left the field. The win moves Dunstable up to 18th place and hopefully will kick start the season and instil some confidence and self- belief into the team.
Next up is a home match against Edgware Town on Tuesday 27th at Creasey Park. Kick off is 7.30pm.
The last three games have averaged over seven goals a game, so if it’s excitement and plenty of action and hopefully some more goals from the boys in blue, Creasey Park is the place to be on Tuesday evening.