Written by Andrew Madaras
Photos by Liam Smith
The turnstiles clicked with pleasing regularity to herald the start of the Blues pre-season campaign on the hallowed Creasey Park carpet. Spectators & readers who are not regular followers of the fortunes of Joe Deeney’s men may not have been aware of the earlier pre-season games played behind the cage on ATP1. Watching football from behind a wire mesh doesn’t have the same thrill or appeal as being inside a “proper football ground”.
It was good to be back. Since our last home game on the main pitch the entrance to the turnstiles had become our own contribution to combatting greenhouse gases.
Unfortunately, we lost our green credentials once Peter got to work digging out the errant vegetation.
Former Blue & current Bees Manager, Dean Brennan, paid us the compliment of fielding a very strong team full of experienced first-team players, who were followed by a large contingent of supporters who had travelled up the M1 to follow their team, who, very impressively had beaten a Chelsea X1, 5 –3 at the Hive on Saturday.
Fortune had been less kind to Dunstable on Saturday. Competing for the Football Supporters Association sponsored Brian Lomax Cup, we had a five-hour coach trip to Peacehaven where despite a very strong performance a last-minute goal against the run of play saw us return home minus silverware.
The warm weather helped attract a crowd of 259 into Creasey Park, fifty more than last season’s average and they were treated to a very decent game of football.
Barnet are a Conference team with fully professional players so anybody expecting a David v Goliath outcome was never going to be going home with a smile on their faces. Barnet were proficient in front of goal & a hat trick for former Blackpool & Bradford City man, Harry Pritchard, within the first 23 minutes showed how clinical the Bees were in front of goal.
10 minutes later and a towering header from ex-Portsmouth striker, Nike Kabamba, cannoned off the crossbar for Callum Stead to tap in and make it 0 – 4.
You may think it was one-way traffic, but that wouldn’t be fair on Deeney’s men who kept at their tasks throughout the game and forced several good saves out of Laurie Walker in the Barnet goal.
Barnet were reduced to 10 men when a two footed lunge at Tolu Ikuyinminu left him unable to weight bare and carried from the field Fireman’s lift, Joe Deeney style. There were no complaints from the Barnet players or fans. It was a straight red card offence and at the stage when Barnet were by now five goals ahead a totally unnecessary challenge to make.
Dunstable fans will have been pleased with the endeavour, effort and application the team showed. For half an hour in the second half, the Bees scored only once with Stead & Kabamba reversing roles for Barnet’s fifth and final goal on 57 minutes.
There was no warning of the drama that was to occur on 74 minutes. Discussions for four minutes between the Barnet bench & the match referee led to the Barnet players being summoned from the pitch and down the tunnel to the changing room. Barnet thereby causing the game to be abandoned. In over 50 years of watching football I’d never seen an incident like this before, and like a lot of people, fans from both sides, wondered whether what I’d witnessed had actually happened. The basic facts as I understand them are that the referee approached the Barnet bench to advise they substituted one of their players who was constantly swearing at him, warning that if he was not substituted he would receive a red card, so reducing Barnet to 9 men.
Four minutes elapsed and after discussions Dean Brennan instructed his players to leave the pitch. It was a very disappointing end to the game and no small source of bewilderment & embarrassment among the Bees faithful who were as equally bemused as the rest of us.
The Barnet players left the field in silence and with my neutral’s hat on you couldn’t help feel sorry for the Barnet fans who’d travelled 30 miles or so to watch their team, paid their admission fees and then watched them walk off, without apparent justification or cause.
The Dunstable players stayed on the pitch and received warm applause when they eventually left the field. In his post-match interview to the Talk of the Town podcast, Joe was clearly very pleased with his players’ attitude, application and overall conduct. You’ll hear the message from Joe repeatedly that a player’s conduct and who they are as men is of great importance to him and for the dynamics of the team. That spirit, that togetherness, that pride in playing for the badge, for the Manager and for each other was evident in abundance yesterday.
The Blues play their final pre-season game against Risborough Rangers at Creasey Park on Saturday 29th July kick off 3 pm, before the SSML season kicks off on Tuesday 1st August with the visit of Aylesbury Vale Dynamos to Creasey Park, kick off 7.45 pm.
There has been no increase in matchday admission prices, season tickets or Ownership packages.
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