Written by Andrew Madaras
The Blues left The Nolan Oils Ground somewhat bemused as to how they had not managed to secure an eighth consecutive win. They had enough chances to have sealed the three points before Ardley got a share of the points thanks to a 96th minute equalizer.
The Blues had played the final 48 minutes with only 10 men. Liam McCrohan received a straight red card for a foul minutes after Joe Sellers-West had given Dunstable the lead with a looping header over the Ardley keeper. The cross from Tolu Ikuyinminu the perfect height and weight on the ball for Joe to do what he does best. That was his fifth goal of the season and puts him in on a par with Kelvin Osei-Addo, trailing Kyle Faulkner who leads the pack on nine.
The game had one or two controversial incidents which Dunstable were unhappy about. Tolu Ikuyinminu feeling the forearm of a home defender across his windpipe was the one which incensed players, coaches and supporters alike the most. Referee Chris Parperi and his two assistants blindsided and the challenge left unpunished.
Head Coach, Joe Deeney, reflective and philosophical at the end refused to entertain a victim mentality and was instead positive about the challenge waiting his still undefeated team in the League on Saturday when Leverstock Green are our hosts for the afternoon.
A nasty looking injury to Dylan Baker’s shoulder saw him being replaced by Ruari Mills after only 14 minutes.
Dylan now joins the injury list and with fellow defenders Kyle Davison-Gordon and Terrence Muchineripi both still out for several more weeks, Joe will be taking decisive steps to provide additional cover.
By the time Dylan left the field in obvious discomfort, the Blues could already have been a goal to the good. Kyle Faulkner missing by inches from a tight angle having got on the end of a long through ball and beating the oncoming keeper.
Joe Sellers-West also in the action but couldn’t find the power or direction to beat the Ardley keeper.
As the half wore on, Ardley grew into their confidence, and kicking down the slope, looked to create chances and turn possession into opportunity.
However, both sides were able to keep a tight reign on events, and both sides went in at halftime, all square.
That lasted precisely four minutes into the second half. The Ikuyinminu / Sellers-West partnership has borne fruit before. On Tuesday the sight of the looping header dropping gracefully into the net warmed the hearts of another good number of travelling supporters.
Then came a pivotal moment of the game. Liam McCrohan on the halfway line brought down his man and referee Parperi took out his red card. Head Coach, Joe Deeney agreed afterwards the decision was correct.
It gave Ardley impetus, and J’Ardell Stirling came to the rescue ten minutes later to head off the line.
The minutes ticked by and Kelvin Osei-Addo replaced Kyle Faulkner. Ikuyinminu needed lengthy treatment for a “clothesline” challenge which went unwitnessed by the match officials but not by the Dunstable faithful who couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed.
A couple of minutes later Sellers-West was cautioned for what appeared to be a push in the back. The crowd saw red. The expression, adding insult to injury summed up most people’s thoughts.
The minutes ticked by. Dunstable held their shape & line. Deeney almost hoarse continued to shout instructions.
Three times in the final ten minutes the Blues couldn’t capitalize on good preparatory play and put the game to bed.
As the game entered into the seventh minute of stoppage time, Connal Rogan shot decisively. Connor Coulson got down well and parried the ball. On another day the ball bounces kindly away to safety. On this occasion, the bounce favoured Rogan who didn’t need a second invitation to knock the ball home.
The draw leaves the Blues still in third place and still unbeaten in the League this season.
Next up is Norwich CBS in the First Round of the Isuzu FA Vase on Saturday 22nd October at Creasey Park.
Another big crowd is expected, and fans will be reminded to be on their best behaviour as the Club will be scrutinised carefully due to the language and behaviour of one or two fans who allowed emotion and passion to get the better of them on Tuesday and were asked to leave the ground for making ill founded remarks to the referee at the final whistle.
Questioning the impartiality of the referee is foolhardy unwise and unfair. It will get the Club fined and a bad reputation. Bad reputations are earned in minutes and repaired in years. Any spectator found to have done so faces the possible ultimate sanction of being banned from attending matches. It is not a route the Club wants to take but will do so for repeat offences.
The Club has taken advice from the League on managing a set of circumstances we have not faced before and at home matches will be making regular tannoy announcements to warn fans of the consequences for overstepping the mark.