Written by Andrew Madaras
Photo by Chris White
Dunstable Town progressed through to the Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup thanks to goals from Kelvin Osei-Addo and Remell Stirling, which were enough to defeat Step 4 Great Wakering Rovers FC on a gloriously hot and sunny Creasey Park on Saturday.
Our visitors had travelled all the way from just outside Southend-on-Sea but despite the long journey started the brighter of the two sides and hit the post with a rasping shot from 25 yards in the first few minutes.
If that was going to be a let off for the Blues then it certainly concentrated minds on the collective task ahead. As the half wore on the more dangerous Dunstable looked and the more possession they had.
Benji Crilley was a deserved man of the match having been narrowly pipped to the accolade by Ethan Creary in the fine away win at Potton Utd on Tuesday night.
Crilley was outstanding but truth be told all the Dunstable players were excellent, were at their best and played their part in a fine victory which could and probably should have been more emphatic than the two goal margin suggested.
The attendance of 175 was 20% higher than for the visit of North Greenford Utd a year ago, and what was especially pleasing was the number of children who came through the turnstiles taking advantage of the free admission offered for U13’s.
Non-league crowds are often predominantly male and those of a certain vintage. A quarter of Saturday’s crowd was made up of children, and didn’t they just love the high 5’s Joe & the players gave them as they walked up the tunnel at the final whistle.
The Club’s ownership numbers has been swelled over the summer by more Junior Owners joining and they were out in force and in good voice to cheer their heroes on.
Alfie Osborne wore the Captain’s armband in the absence of Jamie “Jammers” Nicholls. Osborne, a summer signing from neighbours, Leighton Town, was everywhere. Busy, industrious, breaking up play and finding the right pass. A real captain’s performance.
Having survived the visitors’ initial forays Kelvin Osei-Addo had two attempts in two minutes bravely saved by goalkeeper Harry Fairs and Perry Dunn, whose shot had hit the post in the 4th minute.
The Blues went ahead on 35 minutes following a superb ball from Tolu Ikuyinminu. Kelvin Osei-Addo finishing off in confident style.
On 43 minutes a perfect pass from J’Ardell Stirling sent Kelvin through on goal again. Unselfishly he chose to square the ball but the chance went begging.
Seconds before Referee Josh Burns blew the whistle for half-time, the Dunstable defence stood firm against the green and white shirted attackers and kept the lead intact.
Six minutes into the second half and Head Coach, Joe Deeney, replaced Kelvin Osei-Addo with Remell Stirling. Both players have been in great form pre-season bagging goals every time they’ve played.
It took our 19 year old protégé only four minutes to get on the score sheet as he netted from close range to double the lead. The assist, for the second time in the match, from Tolu Ikuyinminu. Tolu joined the Club during the summer from Buckingham Athletic and already looks at home. With the ball at his feet, you can sense the crowd’s anticipation that this skilful magician will conjure up some mercurial delights. His goal from the out on the left hand side against Potton on Tuesday night was worth the price of admission on its own.
Ten minutes later a long kick from Connor Coulson sent Remell Stirling away but his shot was narrowly wide.
Great Wakering Rovers were not lying down and Coulson needed to be alert and react quickly to a drive on the hour mark.
With 10 minutes to go the dangerous Eusebio Da Silva headed wide from a cross out on the right.
A minute later Coulson again saved well to keep the visitors out.
It was end to end stuff and typical Cup excitement. A Joe Sellers-West cross found Remell Stirling but he couldn’t keep his shot down, then Sellers-West found himself denied twice by some brave defending.
A late substitution saw Harry Beaumont replace Kyle Faulkner as the Blues saw the final minutes out without any late drama.
A very satisfying and deserved victory for the Blues. Great Wakering Rovers played their part in making this a fine advert for the non-league game, and we wish them well for the coming season.
Town’s next opponents in the Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup are West Essex FC who play at Step 5 in the Essex Senior League and defeated Crawley Green in the Extra Preliminary Round.
The date and time of the match is still to be confirmed.
Before then, there’s a very interesting local derby on Saturday 13th August, when Tring Athletic, managed by former Dunstable Town Asst Manager, Ryan Sturgess, are our visitors to Creasey Park. Dunstable did the double over Tring last season so expect Tring to be looking to reverse last season’s fortunes.