Written by Andrew Madaras
Photos by Liam Smith
On a day hardly conducive to playing free-flowing football both sides acquitted themselves with plenty of application and hard work, but it was the home side who deservedly took ownership of all three points with a performance which saw them win two consecutive games for the first time since the victories over Tring & Leighton in early October.
The fact that it’s been nearly 12 weeks since the Blues have achieved this feat shows what a difficult autumn/winter it’s been. Injuries, suspensions and postponements have been a thorn in Head Coach, Joe Deeney’s side, as he’s needed all his many years of coaching experience to circle the wagons and return to basics to stamp out some of the errors his side have committed and conceded goals, points and League places.
If Tuesday’s performance may have lacked a little of the finesse and “Je ne sais quoi” it did exactly what Deeney wanted it to do. Lay a line down in the sand, show his team’s not for being bullied or unable to learn when mistakes are made. Listening to his post-match interview with the superb Talk of The Town podcast, you could hear how pleased Deeney was with his charges. Shape, structure, discipline, a well-thought through game plan that had been followed to the letter and as a result the League leaders had drawn a blank and gone away empty handed from Creasey Park, and that’s not something that has happened very often this season.
Crawley Green came into the match top of the table and with the best away record of all Premier League clubs, winning seven of their nine matches. It’s a great tribute to Paul Blackman and Matt Harding that in a relatively short period of time they’ve saved the Club from what looked like almost certain relegation last season to being top of the League, this season.
There were several former Blues in the Crawley lineup. Dan Gould, Dan Trif, “Paddy” Patru, Gary Jones and Brandy Makuendi all started while Dan Blackman was on the subs bench.
Joe Deeney kept faith with the starting X1 from the midweek game at St Panteleimon, the only change being Ethan Creary returning to replace the injured Alfie Osborne. Harry Beaumont wore the Captain’s armband. J’Ardell Stirling continued to play in midfield.
There was a pleasing pace to the Dunstable opening. Busy, industrious and on the front foot from the kick off. Twice in the first quarter hour, they carved out good opportunities, the first after just seven minutes saw Kelvin Osei-Addo square the ball towards striking partner Danny Webb before good link up play between Tolu and Danny Webb saw the latter shoot straight at Gould.
But the deadlock was finally broken on 34 minutes when Danny Webb volleyed home following a Benji Crilley “special” out on the left. It left Gould rooted to the spot and was no more than Dunstable deserved for a very impressive opening half hour.
Supporters behind the goal thought Harry Beaumont’s free kick on 41 minutes had doubled the lead, but the ball went into the side netting. However, their patience was rewarded a minute later when Kyle Davison-Gordon scored his second of the season following a corner from Harry Beaumont.
Halftime saw Luke Dunstan replaced by Dan Naylor and 20 minutes later, Sean Immanuel replaced Kelvin Osei-Addo.
Dunstable kept the momentum and the pace and kept their shape reducing Crawley Green to sporadic efforts on goal. One second half chance fell to Dan Trif around the penalty spot but he couldn’t keep his shot down, Coulson needed to be alert to a decent shot with 20 minutes left on the clock, but at the other end and playing into a ferocious wind and driving rain, Webb looked as if he’d beaten Gould at his near post as he seized onto a fine through ball from Tolu, only for the ball to nestle in the side netting.
Joe Sellers-West came on as a second half sub and in so doing made his 50th appearance for the Blues. He’s scored 19 goals in that time and Blues supporters will be very excited to see him keep that record going for the remainder of the season.
Referee Tom Ratheram had a good game and the crowd of 226 will have been glad when he blew the final whistle and the opportunity arose for shelter and warmth from the elements.
The win leaves Dunstable in 9th position in the League but with five games in hand over the leaders, Crawley Green, with a gap of 12 points separating the two.
The top of the table is incredibly close. Two points separate the first three sides, Crawley Green, Stotfold and Leighton, then only three points separate the chasing pack of six clubs, Potton, Leverstock Green, Tring, St Panteleimon, Biggleswade and Dunstable Town.
Deeney’s assertion that the League will be closely fought and decided by a point or two looks prophetic. No team has grasped the League by the scruff of the neck and made a run for it, results around the League are unpredictable, and all really is left to play for. As more players return from injury, the gaffer will be looking for another strong and professional appearance from his side on Monday 2nd January when they travel to Arlesey to play Baldock Town in the New Year game. Kick off is 3 pm and Blues supporters are expected to travel in numbers to give the lads the backing they deserve.
St Panteleimon are the first visitors to Creasey Park in the New Year when they are our guests on Saturday, January 7th.