Written by Andrew Madaras
Photos by Liam Smith
Dunstable Town came into this match buoyed by the win over Enfield FC in the 2nd Round of the Isuzu FA Vase a week earlier and looking to start picking up some points on the road.
Their last League success at an away ground being the 2-1 win at Colney Heath on the 1st of October, and in all away competitions, at the Grassroots Stadium, Tring, just three days later in the Dudley Latham Cup. Tolu Ikuyinminu’s second half net buster of a shot on the turn proving to be the only goal in a tight and well-contested game.
Since then, the Blues have drawn away at Ardley, Leverstock Green and St. Panteilemon. Not bad results by any means, but Head Coach, Joe Deeney would have probably wanted and no doubt expected a better return than just three points out of a possible nine from those games.
Injuries to key defensive players, Terrence Muchineripi, Kyle Davison-Gordon and Dylan Baker and suspensions for Kyle Faulkner and Liam McCrohan have disrupted the rhythm of the team but players such as Ruari Mills and Dan Naylor have excelled when called back to provide cover.
New signings Danny Webb, Rob Goodman and James Verney are all proven players at this level and higher so the present hiatus in form and results has been addressed and it looked until the 91st minute that the Blues had done enough to have secured a 4th consecutive draw on the road until disaster struck and a defensive mix up saw Tring sub, Joel Anker, grab the only goal of the game and secure all three points.
Anker being one of three Tring players on loan from MK Dons and his first goal for Tring which I’m sure he’ll remember for the rest of his career.
The meeting at Creasey Park on the 13th of August and played in unbearably hot conditions had ended in a 2-2 draw. Tring’s win, therefore, evens things up in terms of results and sets the stage nicely for the fourth game between the two clubs when they meet on Sunday 4th December for the 3rd Round of the Isuzu FA Vase.
The crowd of 235 was Tring’s biggest of the season and was swelled by the large number of Dunstable fans who travel away with the Club to every fixture. Headcount of 70 DTFC fans for this match which pipped the previous highest away support of 65.
It’s a measure of the success that the Deeney & Durcan era has brought to the Club that so many supporters travel away from home and home attendances have doubled in the year they’ve been in post.
It’s a million miles away from the Step 3 days when even as a Members run club, the Boxing Day away victory at Banbury Utd was celebrated by the grand total of three DTFC fans and at Edgar Street in Hereford on a bitterly cold Tuesday evening, Scottie & Dean proudly unfurled the Regimental flags in the cordoned off away terrace, joined by two Dunstable based contractors who happened to be working in Hereford.
It is simply inconceivable now that any away match at Step 3 would have so few away supporters travelling. Huge credit needs to be paid to former Chairs, Alex Alexandrou and Neil Barker for their tireless efforts not only saving the Club from disappearing into the non-league ether but the foundations they lay down which enabled the seamless transition to a Community/Fan owned model.
Before the match, eight Blues supporters and Club owners hiked over the Downs and walked part of the Grand Union Canal to raise money for the Club’s chosen charities, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the Ollie Foundation as well as the Club’s own community support groups. Nothing like a 21 km sponsored walk to focus the mind, discuss tactics and show why Blues fans are the best in this League, beyond question. This walk, the third of five this season, will see the supporters walk 100 km in total to the nearest five away grounds.
Leverstock Green and Harpenden Town have already been completed. Now with Tring Athletic also completed, that leaves just Leighton Town on January 14th 2023 and Crawley Green on the 10th of April to go.
No doubt Joe Deeney would have ideally liked his players to have played AFC Dunstable in the Beds Senior County Cup on Tuesday night as part of the preparation for this match. However, the adverse weather conditions saw that it would be postponed so only a two-hour training slot was the preparation.
Alfie Osborne served the second one match suspension. Harry Beaumont taking over the Captain’s armband.
There was little to separate the sides for long periods of the game. It was one of those games that every sense of your being said it had nil-nil written all over it.
Despite an offensive lineup with Webb, Faulkner and Verney up front, the supply to them didn’t cut out many clear-cut chances. Webb’s effort cleared off the line was the closest Dunstable came to scoring.
At the other end, Connor Coulson and his defence dealt admirably with all that came their way but that was limited as the game was mainly a midfield war of attrition.
Stats wise the omens are normally good when Dunstable go into the half time break at 0-0, so the travelling support could be forgiven for any air of optimism over the half time cups of tea or the excellent beers from the Tring Brewery.
Much of the second half replicated the first half. Dunstable used three of the five substitutes permitted, but still, the important breakthrough remained elusive.
When Tring went ahead late on it proved to be too late for Dunstable to get back on terms.
No one could begrudge the Tring players their celebrations and their Manager, Ryan Sturges, his win over the Club he served so well as Assistant to Gareth Jackson.
Social media delighted in the fact that a window had been unintentionally broken by a Dunstable player, and despite keyboard warriors seeking to make mountains out of molehills, thankfully the mutual respect that exists between both Clubs has seen common sense prevail and the acceptance of our formal verbal and written apology and offer to meet the full cost of repairs.
Dunstable will be looking to get back to winning ways on Tuesday evening when they play Arlesey Town in the League. Kick off is 7.45 pm. Supporters are advised that the stadium car park is closed on evening matchdays, and to use the overflow car park 50m further down Brewers Hill Road.
Potton Utd come to Creasey Park on Saturday 26th November in another League match. Kick off is 3 pm.