Well, what can you say? Earlier in the season Dunstable beat Cirencester away with an impressive 5-1 result and today they lost 0-2 in a meek, diffident performance – and I may also add that Cirencester like Creasey Park and have won here three games on the trot. I might say on the hoof since a forgettable first half was dominated by a long ball strategy that was getting neither team anywhere.
Some were keen to point out the arduous schedule of four games in seven days, and three away games in succession but it is not offered as an excuse by me. Today’s performance was indeed lamentable in comparison with recent games with so many of the team only aspiring to mediocrity. Credit goes to the Centurions for their patient approach as well as the nature of the two goals they scored, both emanating from set pieces and both scored by their skipper, Matt Liddiard, in the second half.
I cannot believe that our players are in end of the season mode as there are some appealing fixtures to come, such as Chesham United at home and champions elect Poole Town away. If a positive result is to come in the remaining four games Dunstable will need to improve considerably and I do believe that this was the general message conveyed by manager Tony Fontenelle in the dressing room after the game.
Mind you, we can- in a way, be thankful that there were two goals today, since until the first went in we had witnessed a match that seemed devoid of an objective game plan. Dunstable may have lost to Kettering on Thursday but their vibrant second-half performance showed real fighting spirit when the game had looked well beyond them. Chris Vardy, who scored in that game, was again notable, yet his best effort was well saved by Josh Langley.
The game had a lethargic feel about it and there was some rather routine stuff, with Keenleyside and Vardy suggesting a good combination that was all too easily undone. Similarly a cross by Ollie Knight seemed aimed straight at Bart Pedrycz, again in the Dunstable goal owing to both Jamie Head’s injury and also on merit. Pedrycz’ double save late in the game was an example of his form and confidence.
Matt Liddiard’s first shot had only a hint of his later accuracy – for he was the scorer of the game’s two goals in a second half that saw an improvement from Cirencester but not from their hosts. Jonathan Edwards was booked for his petulance when, after seeing a decision go against him, he bounced the ball high and let forth an imprecation which probably made the referee’s decision to caution him somewhat accelerated. His manager had it right when he yelled out ‘Discipline!’ and it was indeed a cheap and unnecessary booking.
A corner from Ciren saw Shayne Anson fire over the cross bar and James Mortimer-Jones has a thoroughly wasteful shot. More Ciren corners followed and from one of these Ross Langworhty headed wide. For Dunstable a cross from Howard Hall was deflected for a rare Dunstable corner and from this Mark Smith also headed off target.
There was little of note occurring in either penalty area and both keepers were untroubled by on target shots from open play. Even so it was difficult to comprehend that the Centurions were the same team so demolished by Dunstable in the corresponding fixture. As such it was some relief to all when the whistle called a halt to the uninspired first half. Some fastidious home supporters challenged me to get more than two sentences of ‘copy’ from what had occurred hitherto. There was a notable lack of penetration from Jonathan Edwards, who was eventually replaced by Lee Roache – but he fared little better, as did Connor Calcutt who returned, as a substitute after a period of absence from the named squad. Indeed Dunstable’s best effort came from a late shot from full-back Zack Reynolds who hit the bar, late in the game.
We all wanted the game to liven up and it did so, but to Dunstable’s cost. Liddiard had a header which was deflected for a corner – and from this he scored with an unchallenged header. The half was but three minutes old and more than ever it was now incumbent on Dunstable to rally to the cause. They employed all three permitted substitutes but it made little difference.
Indeed they might well have conceded an own goal when the veteran Scott Griffin had a shot deflected by Adam Pepera, so strongly that it needed a bit of smartness to prevent it nestling in the net. It went for another corner and Griffin tried a header without success. James Kaloczi and Chris Vardy tried a couple of semi-inspired moves but the best that came fromthem was a corner. Edwards tried a shot that brought another that David Keenleyside sent over too high and too long.
Howard Hall’s long throws were still worth a watch, though and from one of these Mark Smith had a header on target but it did not beat Langley. With Vardy combining with Edwards, the latter had a weak shot and he was then substituted by Lee Roache. Griffin was wide again and Dunstable substitute Calcutt had a chance that was deflected for a corner, from which Steve Wales shot off target.
Another move from Kaloczi and Vardy saw the latter’s shot held – but at least Dunstable were having a bit of a go. Cirencester defended with patience, making a couple of substitutions as well. I omitted to announce these on the public address system as I thought the relative excitement of the incident would be too much for some to bear.
Pedrycz’ double save was important but it served to remind that there was a definite vulnerability about Dunstable this afternoon. The hunt for an equaliser was soon put into perspective when, with seven minutes remaining, the visitors scored their second. This came from a free kick, wide on the left, which sailed in, finding Liddiard who doubled his tally and all but secured the points for Cirencester.
Reynolds may have hit the bar and had that gone in it would have made for a more frenetic finish but there was nothing further from the curiously muted Dunstable who thus fell to another home defeat against their visitors from Gloucestershire – and I must say they deserved their win today.
For those who think that Dunstable were weary from their recent travels will need no reminding that the team takes to the road again on Wednesday when they take on Frome town, who not only have climbed away from the relegation zone but have been a team in notably good form. The four relegation places were more or less confirmed today – and the Premier Championship seems a formality for leaders Poole Town, helped by the fact that second placed Redditch United had a three point deduction confirmed by the League.
So, off to Frome and Poole within a week, and we finish with the two home games against Chesham United and doomed Bedworth United. I hope the games and the results are an improvement on today.
Bart Pedrycz, Howard Hall, Zack Reynolds, Mark Smith, (Anthony Leslie, 75), James Kaloczi, Captain, Adam Pepera, Gary Wharton, (Connor Calcutt, 79), Steve Wales, Jonathan Edwards, (Lee Roache, 67), David Keenleyside, Chris Vardy. Other substitutes – Danny Talbot and Jonathan Wyllie.
Josh Langley, Anthony Brown, Aiden Bennett, Mark Pritchett, Matt Liddiard, TWO GOALS, 48 and 83, Shayne Anson, Ross Langworthy, (Matt Kotwica), James Mortimer-Jones, Charlie Griffin, (Matt Bower), Adam Connelly, Ollie Knight,. Other substitute – Alex Dunsmore.
Officials – Referee Geoffrey Russell, assisted by Daniel Glazwewski and Abdul Kadir.