The Blues returned from Harlow with a victory under their belts following a hard-fought contest against namesakes, DT FC.
Two hundred days since suffering a broken leg in the game against Baldock Town, Dylan Fitzpatrick returned to the pitch with the energy and intent of a man looking to make up for lost time.
It was good to see Kai McArthur back in a blue shirt. He broke his leg two years ago & with only two games under his belt last season this has been a long come-back for him.
After such bad injuries, it was good to see both lads go in for every tackle and not shirk an ounce of responsibility.
New boys, Josh Going & Aaron Asare both gave assured performances while new father Leo Pedro tucked home a 75th-minute penalty to make it a double personal celebration & give the scoreline an emphatic ring to it.
The whole team deserve credit for the professional way they went about their business on Saturday. Solid performances from everyone in a blue shirt. Captain, Chris Stapleton, led by example and proved a handful for his markers all afternoon.
There was much to like about the performance. It was professional, played at a high tempo, and with blue shirts closing down their opponents in red quickly and in numbers, the home side’s flair players were kept far enough away from Dan Gould’s goal to not cause serious harm.
Having said that, Dan Gould didn’t have the afternoon off, and when called into action needed to be at his best, making a couple of vital saves to stop DT FC from getting a foothold back in the game.
Former Blue, Jake Kissiedu was a constant threat down the left with his pace and ability.
Up until two weeks ago my Dunstable Town centric knowledge of the non-league game had completely missed the rise of DT FC in the Essex Alliance Senior League.
Their name comes from Arsenal Fan TV stalwart “DT” who is a Luton man, well known to many in and around both Dunstable Town and AFC Dunstable.
Credit to “DT” and colleagues for creating a football club from scratch. Football administration may not be the most exciting and glamorous of tasks but it’s an essential part of the life of a football club. DT FC are well run on the administrative side and very popular going by the numbers of subscribers to their social media accounts.
They play their home matches at the home of Step 4 Harlow Town, in a stadium with facilities that could grace games higher up the pyramid.
A covered and stepped terrace on the far side provided the outdoor changing facilities for our players while on the near side a modern all-seater stand with indoor viewing at the top of the stand reminded me of the new stadia we’d seen at Slough, Aveley and Westfields.
Watching DT FC warm-up and go through their pre-match drills, it was clear why they have had such a successful start to their short life in the non-league pyramid.
A 2 pm kick-off, unfortunately, meant the absence of goalkeeper coach, Rory McMullan, who had been instrumental in arranging the match.
Early pressure from the home side saw Dan Gould make an important save from a header following a corner but the Blues had their own attacking intentions and had a Dan Trif effort ruled out for offside after 10 minutes.
A minute later the Assistant Referee’s flag stayed down and Jeremiah Debayo wheeled away in delight as his goal put the Blues one up.
Leo Pedro nearly doubled the lead a few minutes later but his effort was well saved by the DT FC keeper, who had an excellent game all afternoon.
However even he was unable to keep out Davide Pobbe’s rebound following a good save from Tyler Fry’s piledriver from a tight angle.
Two up with less than 20 minutes on the clock was a good start and seemed to quieten some of the early endeavours from the home team. DT FC didn’t give up and were industrious and probing but ultimately couldn’t find the key to unlock the Dunstable defence.
On the half-hour, a cross from Kissiedu looked inviting but nobody in a red shirt could do it justice. A shot from 20 yards a couple of minutes earlier was just past the post.
Dunstable retained possession well, worked together as a team and allowed their opponents little time on the ball.
A very decent first-half performance ended with another stinging free-kick from Jeremiah Debayo being well taken by the keeper.
Half time gave Gareth & Ivan the chance to bring on L’kharmi Gale, Joseph Debayo, Josh Going, Roy Byron, and Dylan Fitzpatrick.
There was no let-up though in performance levels with all five players doing their jobs well. L’Kharmi out on the right, although not his preferred position, looked dangerous on the ball and put in a decent performance. Josh looked cool, calm and collected while Roy & Joseph let their older heads and experience do the talking.
Ten minutes into the second half and Dan Gould needed to be at his best to save a stinging free-kick. Five minutes later he again pulled off a fine save.Dan’s handling and positioning throughout the afternoon was exemplary.
A midfield battle was intense with no quarter given, but the game was effectively won with a quarter-hour left when Leo Pedro was upended in the box. Leo slotted home the resulting penalty sending the keeper the wrong way. Cue celebratory baby rocking motions from the terraces.
Rolling substitutions saw Aaron, Jeremiah & Dan Trif return to the fray, but the Dunstable backline held firm against the red shirts. A last-minute, last-ditch tackle from Aaron Asare showed the determination to keep a clean sheet.
This was a good test for the Blues against a team who you fancy will do very well in their League again next season. Plenty of spectacle and debating points from the afternoon but mission accomplished as far as Gareth & Ivan are concerned. Game time for the players, a good result and no injuries ahead of another behind closed doors friendly on Tuesday v Risborough Rangers.
On Saturday 10th April we play the first group game of the Gladwish Cup against Shefford Town & Campton. Better technological brains than mine are working very hard to provide you with a live stream and commentary of the game. All of the games in the Gladwish Cup will be played behind closed doors in line with DCMS & FA guidelines.
We all hope that when the new season starts on Tuesday 3rd August the turnstiles are open and everyone who wants to enjoy watching a game of football is allowed to do so.
Photos by: Robson O'Reardon