Written by Andrew Madaras
Photos by Liam Smith
The Blues progressed into the 1st Round Qualifying stage of the Emirates FA Cup at a sun kissed Creasey Park by the narrowest of margins edging out Essex Senior League, table toppers West Essex FC by two goals to one.
Goals from Remell Stirling and Kelvin Osei-Addo in the first half with both assists coming from Benji Crilley were ultimately enough to get the Blues into the hat for the draw on Monday.
But West Essex made the home side fight all the way and considered themselves unfortunate not to have taken the tie to a replay at their home ground in Walthamstow on Tuesday evening.
Stoppage time blocks and tackles by man of the match, Ethan Creary, and Kyle Davison-Gordon were vital, but Blues supporters could also point to a disallowed Kyle Faulkner goal from the halfway line which would have made the final minute and a half of stoppage cause for early celebrations instead of palpitation inducing anxiety.
With AFC Dunstable playing their Cup match 24 hours earlier, the crowd of 258 was swelled by several groundhoppers and just over 50 children, with the Club’s re-energised Development Centre for 4-6 year olds providing the day’s mascots.
It’s very encouraging to report that one third of the crowd was aged under 18.
As a fully fan owned Club, it’s equally encouraging seeing the number of Junior Owners continue to grow in line with the increasing number of adult owners.
Head Coach, Joe Deeney had reflected on his side’s propensity for starting slowly in the last couple of matches. Dunstable were out of the traps from the first whistle and took the game to their opponents.
In the first few minutes, Remell Stirling broke dangerously and played the ball square for Tolu Ikuyinminu who was dispossessed at the crucial moment as he was about to take his shot.
Charlie Jones took over between the sticks from Connor Coulson and upfront Deeney kept faith in the striking partnership of Remell Stirling & Kelvin Osei-Addo who between them have scored 6 out of the 8 goals the Blues have bagged this term.
For Kelvin Osei-Addo it’s now seven goals in his last seven matches.
The first goal for Dunstable came after 20 minutes and from a Crilley dead ball which 19-year-old Remell Stirling anticipated, timed his run to perfection and very nearly burst the net, such was the power of the shot he unleashed.
It came with Dunstable on top and having the better of things in midfield. Skipper, Alfie Osborne, again dominant in the middle of the park, but well supported by Harry Beaumont and Benji Crilley.
At the back, Muchineripi, Creary, Davison-Gordon and J’Ardell Stirling were colossuses throughout the 90 minutes.
With five minutes before the half-time cup of tea, Dunstable doubled the lead, with an emphatic shot on the turn by Kelvin Osei-Addo. The assist again from Crilley.
Whatever was said by the West Essex FC coaching team at half-time, clearly had the desired effect.
More assertive and aggressive in the middle of the park, they started to find space and made use of greater possession.
However, credit to the Dunstable players who retained their shape and made breaking down that resolute back-line like chipping away at concrete.
Eventually, the door opened mid-way through the second half and Dunstable were punished for failing to clear their lines. 2-1, game on.
Deeney & Durcan shuffled the pack.
Kyle Faulkner replaced goal hero Remell Stirling and a few minutes later, Isaac Olaleye took over from Harry Beaumont.
As expected, wave upon wave of white shirts pressed forward but Dunstable stood firm and thought they’d put the game to bed deep into stoppage time, when Kyle Faulkner took advantage of West Essex keeper coming up for a corner. Charlie Jones punted the ball up field. Faulkner in a tussle with two defenders turned and shot. His aim was true and the ball bounced into an empty net, only for referee, Peter Kwak, to blow for an infringement.
The cheers at the final whistle reflected the closeness of the game and the battling spirit displayed by both sides. This was a great game of football and advert for the non-league game.
We wish our opponents all the very best for the remainder of the season.
On Wednesday night Ayub Nabongo’s new look U18’s had set the ball rolling for FA Cup success. This time though it was in the FA Youth Cup.
The young Blues dominated the game and despite surrendering a two-goal advantage went into the break 3-2 up. A first half hat-trick from Dennis giving the home team the advantage.
Dennis added a 4th from the penalty spot before Axel scored a fifth goal late on to put the tie beyond any doubt.
The lads’ reward is another home tie on Wednesday 31st August against Rothwell Corinthians in the Preliminary Round of the FA Youth Cup.
Their first league match in the Southern Counties Football Youth League is away at Kings Langley on Thursday 8th September, kick off 7.30 pm.
The First team are next in action on Sunday 28th August when Crawley Green FC are our opponents in the FA Vase. It’s a local derby with several Dunstable old boys expected to feature in the Crawley Green squad. Another close match is anticipated, and another big crowd is expected.