First home goals for L’Kharmi Gale & Tyler Fry gave Dunstable the edge in a well contested match against Potton Utd, who had beaten the Blues 3-1 on November 3rd in what proved to be the final game before the second lockdown.
Cheered on by an enthusiastic three figure crowd Dunstable looked good value for their win but had Dan Gould to thank for some important second half saves to keep the yellow shirted opponents at bay.
Manager, Gareth Jackson, had said pre-kick off that the game represented the sternest test his squad had faced this pre-season. A narrow defeat to Newport Pagnell Town on the 10th July was followed by a draw against Rothwell Corinthians three days later, and then last Saturday victory over Enfield Borough had ensured the Blues faithful had something to cheer about as the current heatwave started to take effect.
Twenty-four hours earlier several of Potton’s squad had been drenched by the torrential rain which fell during their match away at Ampthill. There was no danger of history repeating itself as the glorious blue sky contained little in the way of cloud cover.
Gareth & Anthony have needed to make some difficult choices during the close season as they’ve looked to make the midfield more competitive, an area most Blues supporters and observers have noted as needing most attention.
Two welcome faces returning to the Club are Joe Mead and Charlie Oddy. Both played during the Step 4 campaign. Two players who have left the Club in the last couple of days are Davide Pobbe & George Mulonda. We thank them both for their commitment to the Club and wish them well with their new clubs and their careers.
Dunstable went ahead early on as L’Kharmi Gale managed to force the ball home at the near post, much to the delight of the Regiment behind the goal. It was a reward for a decent spell of Dunstable pressure.
Further chances came Dunstable’s way but none were converted.
With several players still trialing for the Club, familiar figures like Club Captain, Chris Stapleton & keeper, Dan Gould, performed with their usual commitment and enthusiasm. But there were good performances all over the park from the men in blue.
Five minutes after Dan Gould’s athleticism had enabled him to take a difficult bouncing ball,
Dunstable produced one of the best attacking moves of the evening. The chance was created by the industry of Dylan Fitzpatrick down the left-hand side who harried his opponent and with lightning quick speed & swift passing Joe Mead played a defence splitting pass so that the cut back just needed to find an unmarked blue shirt to go into the half time break two up. The inviting cross was well defended but the move brought a round of generous applause from the crowd impressed by the quality of the move.
The Potton keeper was kept busy and needed to make a couple of further important saves as Dunstable turned up the pressure.
Potton had their chances but were unable to convert despite good approach play and clever movement on and off the ball.
There is a great deal of mutual respect between Gareth & Jimmy, the two managers. Having done their coaching badges together they have both created teams who like to play football, and as a pre-season spectacle this was a good game for any neutrals in the crowd to enjoy. Two teams keeping the ball on the ground and trying to play football the right way.
Due to the restructure of the non-league pyramid in the close season, Potton will no longer be members of the Spartan South Midlands League, having been moved “sideways” into the Uhlsport United Counties League. 180 mile round trips to Coventry beckon and we lose a fantastically well-run Club with a great committee and one of the most hospitable and friendly welcomes you get when you visit The Hollow.
With Dan Gould being called into making a couple of important saves as the half-time whistle grew nearer, Blues fans were able to reflect on a decent first half.
Half-time team talks took place on the pitch, the match also marked the first game played at home without any Covid restrictions since Eynesbury were the visitors on Tuesday March 3 rd 2020. The world today is a different place than it was back then.
The seats in the stand are no longer taped off and supporters are not required to stay six feet apart or not gather around the bar and food hatch. Match day Manager, Wayne Upton & Head Steward, Sam Giddings have been rightly praised for the professional manner in which they worked with Creasey Park to ensure everyone’s safety during the past 18 months and deserve our thanks.
The second half brought with it a change of personnel in blue shirts. While of course it’s important to win matches, pre-season is about so much more than that as potential new recruits are put through their paces, and players’ fitness levels are assessed. Just as any seasoned dieter will tell you “the scales never lie” so does the huffing and puffing give away tell-tale secrets about who was spending more time on the sofa watching the Euros then running up and down the Downs.
A second goal for Dunstable came just shy of the hour mark and was scored by Tyler Fry who finished a well-worked move with great assurance and quality.
Back came Potton though and they enjoyed a good spell in the second half as they probed the Dunstable back line but with the defence working well together and blocking shots and midfield closing down the Potton playmakers, the Potton forwards couldn’t find a way through.
Dan Gould needed to make a fine double save with 10 minutes left on the clock. Dan was again called into action late on to earn a well-deserved clean sheet and Dunstable ran out 2-0 winners.
Thanks to Khyfer Mayhew and his two Assistant Referees for their part in a good spectacle and allowing the players to get on and play football.
We wish Potton well for the season but now turn our attention to two more tough tests, when firstly North Leigh (Step 4) come to Creasey Park on Saturday 24th July (k/o 3pm) followed by AFC Rushden & Diamonds (Step 3) who are our visitors on Thursday 29th July (k/o 7.45pm) Admission for both matches is £5 Adults / £3 Concessions. Children Free.
Expect new signings to be announced over the next few days as Gareth & Anthony finalise their squad and look out for some exciting news we have about our application to restructure the Club to operate as a Community Benefits Society and a social enterprise.