Written by Andrew Madaras
Photo by Liam Smith
There was a good deal of excitement and expectation as the new-look Dunstable Town U18’s took to the pitch on ATP2 on Saturday afternoon to take on Luton Town U16’s. Head Coach, Ayub Nabongo, reported half a dozen players unavailable but even so the young Blues clawed back a two-goal deficit to deservedly get on even terms before eventually losing by the odd goal in five.
Youth Development Officer, Wayne Upton, had already paid the boys the compliment of driving to the summer training base in North London and was present again on Saturday as was First Team Head Coach Joe Deeney looking on with great interest.
And with every good reason too. There may have been a nominal two-year age difference between the sides, but the young Blues were mainly drawn from the ranks of first years and promise to be an even stronger and competitive unit next season as they mature, get stronger and adjust to the physicality demanded from the rigours of the Southern Counties Floodlit Youth League.
This was a pretty evenly matched game which the away side just edged but home supporters saw enough to think that the Club’s offer of free admission to all SCFYL home games with a DTFC season ticket or to Gold Owners, looks like the bargain of the season.
Earlier in the day, the First Team played Luton Town U18’s at the Brache. Kick off was 10 am but still drew a healthy crowd with barely a seat in the stand left unoccupied.
This was the last pre-season friendly of the Blues campaign. In a very competitive first half Blues had the lions share of play and despite a Joe Sellers-West shot hitting the post and the young Hatters defenders clearing two goal bound attempts off the line in quick succession, found themselves going into the break two goals down. Luton’s goals were expertly taken and the eventual 5 – 0 score was no more than their clinical finishing and approach play deserved.
Much of Dunstable’s most promising moves featured Tolu Ikuyinminu who always looked a handful for his marker, determined to get to the bye-line and get the ball across.
More of a worry for the Blues than the final score was the injury to Liam McCrohan who was taken to hospital with a head injury with only 10 minutes played and then late in the second half when Joe Sellers-West limped painfully from the pitch. Both you feel will be doubtful for Tuesday’s SSML opener away at Potton Utd.
Liam’s injury meant a debut for Owen McConnel who played with great assurance and maturity as did fellow debutant, Sam Naylor.
Luton Town stepped up the pace in the second half and despite some spirited individual performances from the boys in Blue the Championship Division U18’s were too good on this occasion.
Our thanks to everyone at Luton Town for arranging these two fixtures and our best wishes for the season ahead.
After the Blues match at Potton on the 2nd of August, there is the small matter of the Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round to be settled on Saturday 6th August.
Step 4 Essex side, Great Wakering Rovers are our opponents. We know they will be strong opponents and we will need all of our supporters to come out in their numbers and be in fine voice to support the lads. Season Tickets cannot be used for this match and admission prices are as follows, Adults £8. Concessions £5. Youth (13 – 17yrs) £3. Children (12 and under) Free.
If the match is drawn at the end of 90 minutes the two sides will do it all over again on Tuesday 9th August in Essex.