On a day when the mercury hit 35 degrees centigrade, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit in old money, it was a minor miracle that the players from both Dunstable Town & Tring Athletic put on such a good display of football in the most uncomfortable and unbearable conditions.
The 2-2 draw was a fair result on a day when fortunes ebbed and flowed and spectators all over the SSML Premier division decided to go to the seaside or stay indoors and out of the sun.
The attendance of 131 was 20% down on last season’s match yet was still the highest gate in the Premier Division. Clubs with big support like Harpenden drew 103 to Rothamsted Park, Stotfold also attracted 103 to the JSJ Stadium and Leighton Town’s away support at London Colney still only produced an attendance of 50.
In the League above us the Barton Rovers match v AFC Dunstable attendance was 101 so a pretty good indication that the hot weather has hit most clubs’ coffers this weekend.
The 2-2 draw leaves the Blues in 5th place and had they managed to not concede an 88th minute equalizer would have been sitting in joint 3rd position with Leverstock Green and behind Leighton Town & Shefford Town & Campton on goal difference.
But concede we did and even in stoppage time, needed an acrobatic save from Connor Coulson to keep hold of a very precious point.
Tring have strengthened their squad in the summer and took a deserved lead into the half time break. On 8 minutes Leo Farruch skipped past a couple of challenges before slotting home into the right hand far corner and beyond Connor Coulson’s outstretched diving hands.
Tring kept possession well and Dunstable weren’t at their best in the first half.
Had Delguardo’s volley from a cross out on the left, early in the second half, gone in and not hit the post, Dunstable might have found themselves climbing a mountain and not a hill to get back into the game.
The fact that they did was thanks to Blues supporters’ man of the match, Tolu Ikuyinminu who got the equalizer on 60 minutes with an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Five minutes later and Kelvin Osei-Addo added a second and his third in three matches.
One of the new rules introduced this season is the option to play all 5 named substitutes. With referees needing to add 30 seconds of stoppage time for every substitution made, there is the real risk of there being 5 minutes of stoppage time being added just for substitutes.
Blues, Head Coach, has so far resisted any temptation he may have had to do so, but his decision to bring on Kelvin from the subs bench on 56 minutes for Isaac Olaleye, was rewarded with a goal which so nearly proved to be the winner.
There was a very welcome return from the bench for Liam McCrohan who replaced Kyle Davison-Gordon in between the two Dunstable goals. McCrohan has not featured for the Blues since a nasty head injury in the final pre-season friendly away at Luton Town U18s last month.
His return gives Joe & Kyle additional defensive options which may well be needed for next Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round tie v West Essex FC who put six past their opponents on Saturday and now sit top of the table in the Essex Senior League.
One of the most absorbing contests of the afternoon was the one between Kyle Davison-Gordon & Tring forward, Godlove Oppong. Those of you with long memories may remember Godlove when as a 16-year-old he burst through the youth ranks into the Dev Team, scored on his debut and looked a sure fire cert for a bright future with the Club.
Coached and mentored by Blues' current Head of Youth Development, Wayne Upton, who identified Godlove’s prestigious talent at a young age, Godlove moved on and put in a fine display in his return to Creasey Park.
Fellow former Blues, Davide Pobbe and George Carberry also were in the Tring starting X1, who are managed by Blues former Assistant Manager, Ryan Sturgess.
A point a piece and I suspect both Joe and Ryan will both be looking at the result as being two points dropped. Come the end of the season though this could prove to have been a very important point to have gained.
Before next Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup tie, our U18s play March Town Utd U18’s in the FA Youth Cup. This season the U18s are managed by Ayub Nabongo and if pre-season games have been anything to go by look a well drilled unit with some steel in midfield and attacking flair up front.
Admission on Wednesday night is just £4 for Adults, £3 for Concessions, with accompanied children coming in free. Kick off is 7.45 pm.
The Blues then return to Creasey Park for the aforementioned tie v West Essex FC on Sunday 21st August. Kick off is 3 pm, normal admission prices apply, but owners and season ticket holders are reminded that season tickets are not accepted for this match in line with FA rules.