It was a shirt sleeves day of pleasant sunshine which would no doubt call for a surreptitious water break for the players. What is puzzling is that this was a game that was so free of venom yielded six cautions and a dismissal. Frustration it was for Dunstable who had resisted gamely for almost all of the first period, only to fade in the second, where four goals were conceded. It did not help that they had to play the last twenty minutes with only ten men.
Banbury had been prolific scorers in their opening games and may well have been a little put out that their dominance had been met with such resistance – but once they did score they found their task a lot easier in the second-half. The only changes to the hosts’ starting eleven was Lanre Ladipo at right back, Ryan Young starting, whilst Ben Collins was named among the substitutes. Claudio Silva came on later in the second half, which marked his first team debut in a league match.
A very good attendance just short of 200 was boosted by the travelling contingent who provided their usual vocal support. Dunstable began with a couple of forays and in the more promising move Lanre Ladipo strayed off-side – and this was one of the problems in the last game. Ryan Young, Arel Amu and Brandy Makuendi found themselves assisting the defence rather than constructing goal chances – which owed much to Banbury’s patient retention of possession.
Dunstable had trouble clearing their lines and needed to defend without serious error. They were not allowed to settle on the ball, which always frustrates. Yet Shami was well wide with his next effort. Banbury won further corners and two successive free-kicks that were sent into the box, but the Dunstable defence still refused to be penetrated. George Nash of Banbury was cautioned for holding onto Brandy Makeundi’s shirt for some distance when the latter was attempting a forward move. This was one of the cautions that many spectators thought harsh.
The initial undoing of Dunstable came on the thirty-seven minutes when Keiran Ogden, determined not to be erroneous with his pass, but found that he was wayward in the effort– and the outcome was that Jefferson Louis had an easy task of converting.
Just before the interval Darren Pond had clipped the bar with a shot as if to say that the next effort would fine the target. Tom Winters scored the second goal with a fine shot into the top right corner – but the ball had run kindly for him out of defence and he had time to size-up the finish he brought off .This goal came after fifty-four minutes and may have signalled the greater difficulty to Dunstable. There was a fine build up from Shami and his effort was initially beaten away – to find Winters waiting his chance.
There was, from Dunstable, some effort in constructing good moves, with balls out to Gedeon Okito on the left and he got in a cross or two, but there seemed never enough time on the ball to make for a clear chance of a shot on target.
Then there came a really fine shot on goal from Daniel Trif which needed a good, one handed save that conceded a corner. After a Dunstable free-kick, wide on the left was dealt with, the ball was sent forward and Darren Pond made it look easier than it was by calmly lobbing the third goal. This goal was seen by some as definitely ‘hand-assisted’ but the referee was obdurate in overruling such an appeal. Three minutes later, as if rubbing in salt to the wounds, Conor McDonagh added a fourth and Dunstable looked ragged and perplexed.
Things became worse with Trif dismissed for his second yellow and on eighty-two minutes Darren Pond completed the scoring. Dunstable played out the remainder of the game with ten men, which of course added to their difficulties. Banbury supporters were cock-a-hoop of course, with some amusing and some not so amusing chants to conclude their happy visit. Dunstable supporters, whilst pointing critically at the award of the third goal felt that their team had been well beaten by the league leaders and there was to do was the time-honoured, ‘shake yourself down, dust yourself off and go to the next game’, which, of course, is the FA cup match against Royston Town who had a narrow 1-0 defeat today.
Banbury remain at the top and they maintain their one hundred percent record. Of more ‘interest’ to Dunstable is the plight at the foot of the table with Gosport Borough losing by eight goals to nil at home to Basingstoke, which just goes to show that if we thought things were bad they can be worse elsewhere. Gosport have yet to gain a point whereas Bishops Stortford, like us on Saturday, secured their first point. We need not be too disheartened and, indeed Banbury officials praised aspects of individual play. There was encouragement which was sincere as like all experienced officials they too have the lows as well as the highs. As long as we keep positive a decent result erelong will be the reward and once more we can say with sincerity that there was true effort from all Dunstable players today, strained just a little by momentary lapses of discipline.
Garry Malone, Lanre Ladipo, Gedeon Okito, cautioned, Daniel Trif, dismissed for a second caution, John Sonuga, captain, Scott Betts, Ryan Young, Michael Adeyemi, (Sam Odusoga, 65, cautioned), Arel Amu, Brandy Makuendi, (Nimmy Aji, 55, cautioned), Keiran Ogden, (Claudio Silva,65), other substitutes- Justin Koeries and Ben Collins.
Jack Harding, Jack Westbrook, Matt Peake-Pijnen, (Tom Bradbury), George Nash, cautioned, Luke Carnell, Charlie Hawtin, Jefferson Louis, GOAL, 37 minutes, (Connor McDonagh, GOAL, 74, ), Tom Winters, GOAL, 54 ), Darren Pond, TWO GOALS, 71 and 82 minutes, Ricky Johnson, Ravi Shami,(Sam Humphries, cautioned. Other substitutes- Duran Martin, Leam Howards.
Referee- Lee Grimesey, assisted by Ian Stewart and Aaron Fricker.