DUNSTABLE TOWN 0 DORCHESTER TOWN 1 HT 0-0 ATTENDANCE 91
Frustrating though it may be, the first league win still proves to be elusive. It was thought that there was a good chance, facing a team whose form was largely unimpressive – but the Magpies have a generally good record at Creasey Park. Team news was stimulating for long-time supporters, since a surprising signing was made midweek, drafting back former player Jonathan ‘Lucky’ Barnett, now thirty-five years young, but keen to help out his former club – returning for a fourth spell, and now aiming for his two hundredth appearance. The ‘lucky’ appellation stemmed from some rather spectacular goals scored from range in former days, some from free-kicks but others notably from an instinctive sense of positioning.
The new Dunstable team is noted for its youthfulness and the inclusion of an older, experienced player was considered to be a steadying factor. So, Jonno Barnett took to the field, supported not just by home spectators, but also by former players Dean Walker, Grant Newman Carney and Danny Ryan. Dorchester arrived in a brand spanking new coach and knew they had to be on their mettle against a club aching for a victory. Also returning – from suspension was Brandy Makuendi.
But another meagre attendance witnessed a somewhat dull first half marked by little goalmouth action and hopeful crosses into the box. Dorchester wrested the greater possession but found, as did Dunstable that penetrating the defence was far from easy. Arel Amu was eager up front but had little meaningful support and the visitors played a noticeably high line. Thomas Blair had some promising action on the left flank for the Magpies, and an early free kick tested Will Henry, who saved well. Forward play from both sides was effectively subdued and neither side could exploit what were really half-chances.
The mere fact that Dunstable had avoided their tendency to concede an early goal was in itself encouraging, but the lack of goalmouth action was a cause for concern for both teams. Yet it was Dorchester who had the brighter ideas and the hosts can be thankful for Will Henry’s alertness in goal – he gathered well from corners and at this stage had few saves to make and by this I mean direct shots at goal.
Going to the interval without conceding was acceptable if not too welcome and it was hoped that the hosts would be able to build on this in the second half – but it began disastrously for them, since they conceded within thirty seconds of the resumption. A cross from Edward Bastick found Sam Lanahan who squeezed the ball past Will Henry. Oddly enough, the referee, after the game, told me that he felt Will was largely to blame as ‘he called out to the defender to leave the ball as he had it covered.’ I did not hear him shout but the referee was much nearer – yet this momentary confusion proved to be the decisive moment – despite Dorchester spurning their later chances to add to their tally. It breathed life into the Magpies in terms of positive forward play as they went on to dominate the half in terms of both possession and goal chances. A goal, however untidy is still a great tonic and in objective terms it transformed Dorchester into the better team. Had Dunstable scored first they may well have replicated their opponents’ growing confidence. That is the way it goes, and I do not agree with one disgruntled home supporter who opined with misplaced emotion that there is an underlining conspiracy to get the club relegated. He did not develop this idea and I suspect and I sympathise with his frustration as the team never got that little slice of good fortune to aid their cause. Others added, predictably, that the referee did not have the best game of his career
Dorchester had the good sense not to sit on their slender lead and they had several decent chances in the second period, and indeed had the ball in the net once more – from scorer Lanahan who looked suitably aggrieved when the goal was disallowed for a foul. It was the harbinger of further attacks and a little while later. Thomas Blair shot just over and then Billy Lowes missed what is colloquially known as ‘a sitter’. Closer still was Lanahan whose fine header drew the save of the match from Henry, who tipped it over the bar.
There was some urgency shown by Gedeon Okito, Ryan Young and Aaron Hudson, but their efforts were unproductive in terms of clear goal chances, but their work rate was impressive nevertheless.
Play was held up when Bastick needed to be stretchered off after an injury and both sides eventually used all their permitted substitutes. Dunstable continued to battle and in the six additional minutes struggled manfully to get the equaliser and indeed one precious point is worth a great deal more than none at all. But for that momentary lapse at the start of the second half, a point may well have been the outcome and it would have restored a good deal of confidence.
As each game comes and goes, we see the Dunstable team growing in experience and the narrow margin of defeat is significant in itself. They were far from ‘turned over’ and competed with the same enthusiastic gusto.
The next game is also a home game and we go into relatively unknown territory, when Bishop’s Stortford are the visitors. This is a club that has formerly played in the Conference South and North divisions. The last time we played there was in a Bryco Cup final against Thurrock, where one of our spectators today, Grant Carney, scored our only goal in a heavy defeat. I will save that story for the next report’s half-time anecdote.
Will Henry, Ben Collins, (Daniel Trif, 45), Gedeon Okito, cautioned, Jonathan Barnett, John Sonuga, captain, Scott Betts, Ryan Young, cautioned, Lanre Ladipo, (Joseph Chidyausiku, 78), Arel Amu, Brandy Makuendi, (Sam Odusoga, 88), Aaron Hudson.
Other substitutes – Olawanimilo Ajibolamu and Keiran Ogden.
Chris Wehle, Kyle Egan, Neil Martin, Ross Carmicheal, Jordan Storey, Luke Winsper, Edward Bastick, ( Tom Bearwish), Billy Lowes, Connor Jevan, (Dom Panaser- Dower), Sam Lanahan, GOAL, 46, ( Chris Clarke), Thomas Blair, cautioned,
Other substitutes- Jayden Corbridge and John Ross.
Referee – Wayne Chalmers, assisted by Wyndham Trusler and Corey Snuggs.