A glorious hat trick from Captain, Chris Stapleton, so nearly sealed all three points in a thrilling game at table topping Eyensbury Rovers. Trailing 2 -1 at half time, Dunstable showed greater urgency and fight in the second half pushing forward in wave after wave of white shirts, going ahead for the second time in the match in the 86th minute with the best goal of the afternoon, only to be pegged back in stoppage time, and eventually having to settle for a share of the points.
Backed by a very healthy number of away supporters who were vocal all afternoon, Gareth Jackson gave a debut at centre half to new signing James Ferguson, and gave debuts from the subs bench to George Carberry, Josh Going and Tyler Fry.
Dunstable were ahead as early as the 12th minute when Stapleton beat the offside trap to slot home past the advancing Eyensbury keeper. The assist coming from Tommy Twelves who played the through ball to allow Stapleton to work his magic.
I’m not sure the home side knew what had hit them when Joseph Debayo showed fleet of foot and powered a shot against the cross bar ten minutes later. Was this the same Dunstable side that had been swept away by a dominant Eyensbury side at Creasey Park in October?
There’s a positive and optimistic mood in the camp. It tells you something when two current players, not selected for the match, and one former player travel over an hour to support their team mates.
Dunstable continued to press but Eyensbury came back strongly. Dan Gould needed to be at his best making some important saves but even he couldn’t stop an equaliser for the home side on the half hour. Tails up, Eyensbury scored a second just two minute later, despite the heroic efforts of Dan Gould to keep it out.
It was Jimmy Greaves who once memorably said football was “..a funny old game..” Seasoned followers of Dunstable Town understand that only too well. From being very nearly two goals ahead to being a goal behind in a matter of a few minutes was a harsh account of the game thus far.
With the SSML reducing half-time to ten minutes to reduce the risk of Virus spread, Dunstable came out of the traps for the second half fired up and battling hard at every twist and turn. There was greater urgency and pressure higher up the field.
Davide Pobbe tried an audacious lob which landed on the top of the net in the first minute of the second half, but it was a sign of clear intent from Dunstable that they had come to prove a point and restore some pride.
Tyler Fry came on for Davide Pobbe on the hour mark, and his introduction swung the game in Dunstable’s favour. A product of Pro Direct Academy Luton, Dunstable’s new Academy partner, Fry was soon in the thick of things on the right-hand side and it was his sublime cross which was met with all the grace and eloquence Stapleton possesses that gave Dunstable the lead with less than five minutes to go.
Stapleton had equalised from the spot in the 73rd minute and had given the 30 or so Dunstable supporters something to really cheer about. A few minutes later the same player couldn’t convert a second penalty kick but his hero status among the faithful remained intact and undented.
As the game moved into stoppage time the hosts got an equaliser and but for the bravery of Gould may have bagged a very late winner.
An excellent team performance warmly applauded by the Town fans who saluted their heroes at the final whistle and who had the compliment returned to them in a terrific display of mutual respect and unity.
Praise for all the players today. Every single one of them played for the badge and made you feel proud to be a Dunstable Town supporter. Chris Stapleton is currently ahead in the Twitter poll for the Player Pack Man of The Match award which should go nicely with the match ball.
Dunstable are at home on Tuesday 15th v Broadfields Utd kick off 7.45 pm.