Ben Collins, with barely two minutes played, fell on a player, hauled him down and earned himself an early yellow. The Crows looked eager but Scott Bridges early shot wide was indicative of a number of missed opportunities. They were keen to get in the crosses but it was soon apparent that the Dunstable defence coped exceedingly well, with Scott Betts imposing himself with authority.
Gedeon Okito, playing wide on the left was able to cause problems and one of his crosses needed careful defending from Gus Scott-Morris. Royston utilised play well on both flanks and after one foray had seen Malone save well, a following cross seemed to be covered by Malone in the six yard box but a scuffed shot from Sam Ives gave the home side the lead after twelve minutes. It was an untidy goal that emanated from the only real moment of defensive frailty.
Tony McCool made a couple of tactical substitutions during the break. The feisty, combative Ben Collins, already cautioned was replaced by the pace of Ryan Young and Michael Adeyemi gave way to Sam Odusoga. Justin Koeries came on for the industrious Arel Amu for what was a frantic period of added time and he caused a few problems .
Ryan Young’s delivery of an excellent cross saw Gedeon Okito convert for a well taken and deserved equaliser on the hour. It may well have surprised the hosts who turned it up a notch or two, winning successive corners, but seeing them defended with aplomb. Ives did get in a fierce shot, held by Malone, as he did a couple of free-kicks from dangerous areas.
An almost delightful moment came when a Ryan Young cross fell invitingly in the area but before the trigger could be pulled the off-side flag waved obdurately. Another chance came when a long clearance from Malone saw Amu with a chance but in the end the final pass turned out to be the wrong one – and it led indirectly to a long ball forward from Royston that was pursued with intent but covered by the Dunstable defence.
Royston opted for a couple of high crosses, but Malone was there both times to claim the ball, Brandy Makuendi combined with Arel Amu in another positive forward move for Dunstable but again the pass just lacked the desired accuracy, with Welch showing he could match Malone for alertness. Young had his chance for glory but he fired straight at Welch. The rhythm of the game was interrupted with a number of stoppages for injuries and this was the main reason for the eternal added on time which proved to be edge of the seat stuff.
‘Make no mistake’ said Tony McCool, ‘this was a massive point today and a performance we have been building up to and where everyone played his part.’ This was no grab an equaliser and hold on, this was get the goal back and look for a winner. Yes, it could have gone awry but the positive style of play was something to be celebrated given the disappointing start.