Dunstable Town left the Greenfleets Stadium on Saturday with another point secured but disappointed that after such a hard-working performance they had not managed to take all three points.
A rocket from substitute, Jack Percy, which gave the Blues the lead in the 88th minute looked to have been enough but with almost the last kick of the game & in the 7th minute of added on time, the home side grabbed an equalizer.
There were plenty of positives to take from the game. It’s now 10 weeks since the Blues lost a League game in what is now an 8-game unbeaten run. The response from the fans has been extraordinary. There were 45 away fans cheering the Team on and with home attendances averaging over 170, supporters are giving the players that additional 12th Man boost.
It was also the first time in six matches that Dunstable had not lost to Aylesbury Vale Dynamos. The last time Town had played on the ground nearly three years ago, had been during a gale. On one occasion a Dunstable goal kick had caught the wind and was blown backwards for a corner.
What has been notable for these games has been Aylesbury’s propensity to score late on. It happened at Creasey Park in October and in the Gladwish Cup in April. And it happened again on Saturday.
Credit to the Aylesbury Vale Dynamos groundstaff who had worked Trojan like to get the game on. Built on a floodplain and with a river flowing meters away from the ground, the winter months prove a challenging time for the Club.
Dunstable were able to field a full-strength side, with Joe Mead making his 50th appearance. The Blues pressed hard from the kickoff, taking the game to their higher placed opponents. Terrence Muchineripi was the first player to break through the defensive backline but couldn’t find the target. Minutes later Kyle Faulkner crossed but Joe Sellers-West was unable to capitalize.
At the other end, goalkeeper, Dan Gould needed to be alert to keep the home side out from a dangerous looking free kick on the quarter hour mark.
Five minutes later the action was back towards the clubhouse end of the ground with captain, Jamie Nicholls warming the hands of James Weatherill in the Aylesbury goal.
Just before the half hour Dunstable had two penalty appeals turned down by referee, Dan Smith. One a handball and one for a foul on Ethan Creary. Despite being goal-less this had been a good half for Dunstable, pressing high and looking dangerous.
A nasty looking injury to J’Ardell Stirling saw him replaced by John Sonuga and the former ferried to his local hospital by Kitman Steve Lewington & Welfare Officer, Kristy Lewington.
On 40 minutes Kyle Faulkner thought he’d done enough to put the Blues ahead. Having rounded Weatherill his shot was on target but cleared off the line by Alex Mitchell.
A minute or so before that though Ethan Creary tidied up neatly at the back and made an important block.
Weatherill needed lengthy treatment on the pitch as he went down bravely and looked to bang his head on the pitch but thankfully was not badly hurt.
On the balance of play, Dunstable should have gone into the halt time break ahead but the scores were still level with all to play for.
The second half was only 10 minutes hold when the Naylor/Sellers-West dead ball partnership so nearly worked its magic again. A corner this time on the left-hand side saw Joe rise majestically to meet Dan’s inch perfect cross only for the ball to strike the crossbar and bounce to safety.
It was starting to look like one of those afternoons when the ball was going to stubbornly refuse to go in.
Yellow cards were shown to Liam McCrohan & Jamie Nicholls as Aylesbury pressed hard.
On 70 minutes, Dan Trif was replaced by Jack Percy and another Kyle Faulkner effort on target was blocked by former AFC Dunstable man, Terry Griffiths.
Dunstable breathed a sigh of relief when a long throw in by former Blue, Chris Stapleton needed a yellow touch before eventually being cleared.
Captain Jamie Nicholls limped off with 10 minutes to go and was replaced by Benji Gray.
As the minutes ticked away Dunstable kept going, clearly not content to just sit back and take the draw.
Eventually, their efforts were rewarded. The goal when it came, was an absolute beauty. Naylor’s corner being cleared but only as far as Jack Percy a good 25 yards out who met it on the half volley to rifle it beyond Weatherill.
That should have been game over but a free kick out on the left hand side was Dunstable’s undoing and was the twist in the tail of this dramatic finale.
The draw leaves Dunstable in 14th position with 24 points on the board. On Saturday we play the local derby with Crawley Green. There’ll be a number of former Blues in their ranks itching to do well so another close game can be expected.
However, before then there is the not so small matter of the Beds Senior Challenge Cup v Luton Town on Tuesday night. If advance ticket sales are anything to go by, a big crowd is expected and fans are asked to allow additional time to park in the designated overflow car park behind the fire station. For tickets please visit: https://www.dunstabletownfc.co.uk/tickets
Written by Andrew Madaras
Photo by Cupcake 99 Football Photography