Written by Andrew Madaras
Photos by Liam Smith
Dunstable fans who didn’t watch this game and simply looking at the scoreline may be forgiven for thinking that this was a game of few chances, devoid of goalmouth action and their team not firing on all cylinders.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. The Blues were on good form and on another day the result could have been a home victory by a clear three or four goals.
The fact that it was the visitors who returned to Hertford with all three points was largely due to an inspired piece of goalkeeping from Gustavo Nunes who defied science on a couple of occasions with important saves to protect the first half penalty from Guilherme Monti and ultimately all three points.
For the Blues, Man of the Match, Ruari Mills was outstanding and barely put a foot out of place. Just turned 20, Mills has seized the opportunity given him with Terrence Muchineripi’s injury and seems to keep on getting better game after game. It would have been poetic justice if, late in the game, Mills’ seized on a loose ball on the right hand side of the box and unleashed a tremendous thunderbolt which had goal written all over it. The crowd waited for the net to bulge and the opportunity to celebrate what would have been a thoroughly deserved equalizer, only for Nunes to make an instinctive reflex save and palm the ball to safety.
Wave after wave of blue shirts pressed forward almost at ease but despite sustained second half pressure the white shirts of St Panteleimon dug deep and held out.
This was the third occasion this season the two teams had met. The first two games had both ended in draws, with there being barely a cigarette paper between the two teams in terms of quality and a desire to play football and entertain.
Dunstable Head Coach, Joe Deeney, made a couple of changes from the side that came back strongly on Bank Holiday Monday at Baldock, Alfie Osborne replaced Harry Beaumont and Luke Dunstan, named as sub, was replaced by Joe Sellers-West.
Dunstable came out of the traps on the front foot and within the opening 15 minutes could have been two up. Firstly Kelvin Osei-Addo wrestled his way clear and went one on one with Nunes. Unfortunately for Dunstable Kelvin’s shot went agonizingly inches wide of the left hand post.
Minutes later, Danny Webb got clear down the left-hand side, only to see his shot go across goal and inches wide of the right hand post.
It wasn’t all one way traffic and Connor Coulson needed to make a good stop with his feet to keep out former AFC man, Courtney Massey.
The only goal of the match came just after the half hour and was won by former Hatter & Chairboy, Dean Morgan who went down in the box. Referee Daniel Jones pointed straight to the spot and Monti sent Connor Coulson the wrong way with a well-taken penalty.
Alfie Osborne needed eight stitches after coming off worse in a challenge with a St Panteleimon boot. There was no intent and Referee Jones was right to keep his cards in his pocket. Harry Beaumont came on in his place and took over the Captain’s armband.
During the second half, Remell Stirling replaced Kelvin Osei-Addo, yet despite the change in playing personnel, Nunes could not be beaten despite the best efforts of the Dunstable sharp-shooters and goalkeeper, Connor Coulson, who was waved upfield in the dying moments of the game by the home bench. It was just typical of Dunstable’s lack of good luck that despite getting his head to the ball, Coulson could not direct it home.
It was a hard defeat to accept as the performance merited a point at the very least. However it was not to be, and the Blues returned to 9th place in the League.
They now face a return to New Lamb Meadow on Saturday 14th January where they will face Arlesey Town. On Tuesday 17th it’s a trip down the A505 to Harpenden. This match always seems to bring about goals galore, so it should be an entertaining couple of matches for fans and players alike.