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Match Report: Dunstable Town 1-0 Enfield

Written by Andrew Madaras

Photos by Chris White

An 82 minute first goal for the Club from the cultured left foot of new boy, Danny Webb, was enough to win an absorbing tie between Dunstable Town & Enfield FC and put the Blues into the hat for Monday’s draw for the 3rd Round of the Isuzu FA Vase.

Played under the Creasey Park lights on Friday evening the game drew an attendance of 322, the second highest of the season so far, the vast majority of whom will have gone home happy not just with the win, but the manner in which the Team had responded to the stinging words of Head Coach, Joe Deeney, following the home defeat in the League to Stotfold FC 6 days earlier and then the loss to Moulton in the Gladwish Challenge Trophy only 72 hours later.

It had taken opposition teams 810 minutes at the start of the season to score seven goals against the Blues. In the last two games it had taken just 180 minutes.

Deeney used all his years of experience as a player, as a coach and Manager to re-group his troops, issue some final written warnings, delve into the transfer market and by a combination of all of the above saw the return of a clean sheet for the first time in eight matches and the away team fail to find the back of the net for only the second time all season.

Enfield FC sit top of the Essex Senior League. They’ve only been defeated once in the League all season and have built their success by only conceding 8 goals in the League while at the other end plundering opposition defences, seemingly at will, scoring 39 times, an average of well over three goals/game. Danny Norton being the Club’s most prolific marksman this term with 11 goals from 18 starts.

The last time the two teams had met was back in December 2012 and at a time Enfield were known as Enfield 1893. They became Enfield FC in 2019.

It was the 3rd round of the Vase and on a sticky pitch a defensive lapse had allowed the home team to score deep into the second half and knocked the Blues out of the Cup.

Enfield played at Brimsdown Rovers ground in those days. Currently they play in Bishop Stortford, some 30 miles away from their former grounds. The 2012-13 season being the Invincibles season where the Blues were promoted from the SSML without losing a League game all season.

Deeney’s team selection was inspired. Tolu Ikuyinminu slotted into the left full back position, Ruairi Mills as right back and Joe Sellers-West into midfield. All three players out of their comfort zones and in unfamiliar positions. But it worked, Tolu’s speed, agility, eye for a ball and being naturally left-footed gave Dunstable greater options coming out of defence.

In his post-match interview with the Talk of The Town Podcast, Deeney explained the thinking behind the change in tactics, to leave three players up front, to reduce the number of players in the box to defend set balls.

He paid generous tribute to all of his players and announced the bar had been set, and these were the levels he expected for the remainder of the season.

Benji Crilley lined up against his former Club and accompanied J’Ardell Stirling in the Centre Half positions.

In midfield, Joe Sellers-West, Luke Dunstan & Harry Beaumont worked tirelessly all evening, the engine room firing on all cylinders, while up front Manny Immanuel led the line with Danny Webb on his left and Kyle Faulkner on his right.

Enfield enjoyed possession but the Blues defence repelled the early forays. Connor Coulson looked secure, confident in his handling and made the box his own.

Whatever came their way, Crilley and Stirling dealt with, with authority and purpose.

Up front, clever off the ball running always looked like a chance could come Dunstable’s way.

On 20 minutes Coulson did well to tip over a dangerous looking cross and 20 minutes later resolute defending from the Blues saw a Jeffrey Cobblah effort cleared from the line.

This may not have been a game for the purist, but it had all the cut and thrust of a cup-tie and was excellently refereed by Patrick Yates, who allowed play to continue wherever possible and kept his cards in his pocket all evening.

Dunstable’s chances were limited but as the minutes of the second half started to tick away and still the Dunstable defensive line remained unbreeched, the more the belief grew in the spectators that a positive result was on the cards.

Liam McCrohan replaced Benji Crilley with 30 minutes left on the clock. McCrohan did his job magnificently. His partnership with J’Ardell the lynchpin to so many clean sheets earlier this season and last season, restored for the final half an hour and expected onslaught from Enfield.

Deeney brought on James Verney, signed on dual registration terms with Berkamsted on Thursday. James has Step 3 experience from a short stint with the Blues in 2016, but more recently with Hitchin Town & Kings Langley. Verney replaced Immanuel on 80 minutes and made an impact immediately.

Coulson kicked long, Enfield cleared but Joe Sellers-West headed left to Webb, who played a 1:2 with Verney. The pass was angled to the left and Verney with almost his first touch of the game returned the ball first time to Webb. As defenders surrounded him and goalkeeper, Jarvis Monk guarded his near post, Danny Webb, the personification of composure, side footed the ball into the far-right corner of the net and wheeled away in delight to the far corner flag where he was submerged by his jubilant team-mates.

Danny Webb scores for Dunstable Town vs Enfield.
Danny Webb strikes to net a very important first goal for the club.

If ever there was a goal built on patient preparation, this was it, and it will become one of those “I was there moments” as Webb’s scoring record at other clubs he has played for suggests there’s plenty more of these to come while in a blue shirt.

Credit to Enfield, they didn’t stop or allow the disappointment of a late goal to dramatically change their approach. There were no cynical, frustrated, late challenges and at the final whistle handshakes exchanged between both sets of players and benches to the credit of both clubs.

It was Dunstable’s evening but look out for Enfield this season I think they’ll do well and should be at Step 4 next season.

SRD Engineering, the night’s Match Sponsor made Danny Webb the Man of the Match.

72 hours earlier there were significantly fewer smiles on faces at the final whistle as SSML Division 1 side Moulton FC scored two very late goals to come from behind and knock the Blues out of the Gladwish Challenge Trophy. Isaac Olaleye had given the Blues a dream start with a well placed shot in only the 10th minute, yet despite wave after wave of blue shirts going forward, Dunstable couldn’t find another goal due to the heroics of the Moulton keeper.

They were made to pay when Moulton equalized mid-way through the second half and then despite a trademark header from Joe Sellers-West to put them back ahead, with less than 10 minutes on the clock, two late goals from the visitors demonstrated Head Coach, Joe Deeney’s prophetic pre-match warnings about not converting enough of our chances into goals at one end of the pitch, and then failing to do the basics consistently at the other.

Jamie Nicholls, Dunstable Town
First team coach, Jamie Nicholls celebrates the sound of the full time whistle.

On Tuesday evening it’s the return of El Creaseyco when the Town will take the “Home” changing room and AFC Dunstable the “Away” changing room. The two clubs have been drawn together in the 1st Round of the Beds Senior Challenge Cup. Kick off is 7.45 pm.

Season Ticket Holders, Gold & Platinum Owners & U12S’s admitted free. Otherwise, normal matchday admission charges apply. Adults £8 / Concessions £5 / Youth (13-17) £3.


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