Just how tricky the task entrusted to Messrs. Deeney, Durkan, Sinclair & Christophi of getting Dunstable Town out of the relegation zone and into a position of mid-table respectability, was apparent for all to see at Preston Park, Harefield on Saturday afternoon.
New Blues manager, Joe Deeney had been appointed on Tuesday and immediately got to work putting together a backroom team with the experience necessary to strengthen the squad and start winning matches.
Kyle Durkan was appointed as Assistant Head Coach. Rob Sinclair as Player/Coach and former Caretaker Manager, Anthony Christophi as First Team Coach.
Scott Sinclair became the management team’s first signing. He was busy and industrious in the centre of the park before injury forced his substitution at halftime.
By that time though Dunstable were three goals down and despite a much better second half where they hit the post and had several good spells of concerted pressure ended up on the wrong end of a four-nil scoreline.
Harefield Utd were worthy winners and had a good blend of experience and youth. Their 2 -1 victory over table topping Leighton Town in midweek was clearly no freak result.
Dunstable were backed by another healthy number of away supporters who despite the disappointing result stayed behind at the end to clap the players off the pitch.
In one of Manager Joe Deeney’s first changes, the captain’s armband was worn by Enoch Mensah who urged his teammates on as if he did the job every week.
The game kicked off under clear blue skies and an unseasonal mid 60’s temperature. It was the Hares though who were out of the traps first and nearly went ahead in the first minute with Dunstable players and supporters relieved to see this early effort hit the post.
That scare over the game became an even-handed contest in the early stages until Harefield went ahead on the quarter-hour and five minutes later went further ahead from the penalty spot.
Dunstable were then on the back foot as Harefield pressed forward with the Dunstable midfield and defence forced into a rearguard action looking to break down the flanks using the speed of Gill and Trif.
You couldn’t question the commitment, desire or work rate of the Team but Harefield were in no mood for charity and their control of the game grew stronger and saw them score again on 37 minutes to go into the break three goals ahead.
For the third consecutive game, Bobby Armstrong cleared from the goal line just before referee Adam Steele’s halftime whistle.
The Dunstable players and coaching staff sprinted from the pitch to regroup and plan for the second half.
Dunstable came out for the second half with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency. The third goal made it something of a mountain to climb in the second half, but they battled away. Base camp established they took to the foothills in numbers and began pressing hard to find a way through.
Jimmy Hartley, making his debut as a second-half sub for the injured Sinclair, was in the thick of the action and asked questions throughout the half.
It was Hartley’s effort that hit the post and on two occasions last-minute defending when Stapleton was ready to pull the trigger saw the home side keep their goal intact.
However, the final goal of the day went to the home side ten minutes before the final whistle. While the scoreline may have been a little flattering, Harefield were worthy winners on the day. The hugely experienced ex QPR striker, Richard Pacquette added to his Harefield tally to make it 11 goals from 8 starts and ex Oxhey Jets man Louis Bircham added to his tally to make it 6 goals from 6 starts this season.
In sharp contrast, Dunstable have only been able to muster five league goals all season and that fact won’t have escaped Joe Deeney’s attention as plans for Tuesday’s visit of Aylesbury Vale Dynamos are put into place.
There’s no need to be pressing any panic buttons yet. Eight of the ten games played have been against teams in the top half of the table and the season is only one quarter played. But with teams immediately above having games in hand, Joe and his team will want to stop the rot sooner as opposed to later and start getting points on the board and putting smiles back on the supporters’ faces.
Aylesbury Vale Dynamos visit Creasey Park on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 pm, before the Blues head south to play Broadfields Utd who ground share at Rayners Lane FC. Postcode is HA2 0XH.
Written by Andrew Madaras
Photo by Cupcake 99 Photography