Bishop’s Stortford is a club rich in history and they are cited as the only club to win both the FA Amateur Cup (now the FA Vase) and the FA Trophy. They have also played in both the Conference South and North. They also have an impressive history in the early rounds of the FA Cup, meeting Football League opposition on many occasions.
Dunstable included Saul Williams, who has returned to the club, and thus made a fresh debut. After the somewhat dour game against Dorchester Town at the weekend, which brought defeat by a solitary goal, there was some hope that a further improvement could be seen, but this hope was effectively damaged in what was a blitz of a first half that saw the hosts concede four goals in forty-two minutes.
Expectations of a solid start were eradicated as early as the second minute when the visitors won a corner and this was headed home unchallenged by Afolabi Akinyemi. For Dunstable this was a painful goal to concede, for reason of it being so early in the game and the unwarranted provision of a free-header. Whilst it did not dampen their fighting spirit it made things all the more difficult.
Denied possession, they struggled to settle and found the slick passing and forward play of their visitors hard to cope with. Indeed, after the conceded goal, they almost went two behind when Stortford skipper (and assistant manager) Mark Hughes crossed to Darren Foxley, the latter blasted his shot into the side netting. A Dunstable free-kick brought a half-chance but it was stoutly defended. Jason Williams, destined for a hat-trick scored his first after eleven minutes following smart play on the left flank.
Williams then exploited Dunstable’s vulnerability to corners when he neatly converted after sixteen minutes, Dunstable’s response was laudable, and they forced two successive corners, and a really good chance saw Ryan Young provide a perfect cross to Arel Amu who send his effort wide.
The visitors shrugged this off by having a blocked headed effort, a shot that hit the post and a following effort that brought one of a number of decent saves from Will Henry. A good run from Tyrique Hyde-Skerrit saw a pass to Jason Williams whose shot was saved. Following a disallowed fourth ‘goal’, Stortford scored a legitimate one three minutes before half-time when skipper Mark Hughes fired one in and it took an unfortunate deflection from Ben Collins before eluding the busy Henry. When you are on the receiving end there seems to be no little piece of good fortune.
During the interval I recalled Dunstable’s visit to Bishop’s Stortford – not to play them but to face Thurrock in a League Cup Final – then known as the Bryco Cup – this was some ten years ago. It is a poignant memory for me for a number of reasons. The original game was at Hornchurch and inclement weather meant an unwanted postponement and the game was rearranged, unusually for August. Dunstable lost heavily and I remember how our then chairman struck an unwanted blow for political incorrectness.
As the teams and officials took to the field the former chairman remarked in a crunching, loud voice ‘Crikey, the referee’s a Doris!’ No doubt this did not appeal to the female official, who showed she bore no grudge by awarding us a late penalty, which was our only goal in a 5-1 defeat. I still believe that if we had played the game on the original date, our trophy cabinet would have had some silverware in it.
Home substitutes appeared at the commencement of the second period, and ironically, Dunstable’s game improved. This is not to say that the visitors eased off the throttle – they did not and soon there were a few good old goal mouth melees which were blocked shots, lunging defensive moves and a save or two from Will Henry, including plucking the ball out of the air from more dangerous corners.
Then a golden chance fell to the hosts when Ryan Young’s fine pass to Saul Williams saw the latter appear to keep his head with just goalie Tyler McCarthy to beat but he fired wide and even that one goal would have done us all a bit of good. Jason Williams then missed a sitter and had to wait a bit longer for his hat-trick, and Young and Williams almost replicated their former move but drew the same blank as before.
Jason Williams did get his hat-trick, after sixty-nine minutes, which proved the only goal of that half and Dunstable’s frantic efforts went entirely unrewarded. What was clear was what I have referred to as an indomitable spirit and right to the final whistle the hosts tried to gain some compensation on the form of a consolatory goal.
More unwelcome news came our way when we heard that Gosport Borough had gained appoint at Kings Langley, which meant that Dunstable now prop up the lead - on goal difference.
Next Tuesday, 3October sees the El Creaseyco when Dunstable are the nominal away team at Creasey Park in a League Cup encounter with AFC Dunstable. Following this, on Sat 7 October, we see Non-League Day, against Farnborough, which is an experimental ‘pay what you like’ admission.
Will Henry, Ben Collins, Gedeon Okito, Jonathan Barnett, John Sonuga, captain, Scott Betts, (Keiran Ogden, 45), Ryan Young, Brandy Makuendi, (Lanre Ladipo, 72), Arel Amu, Joseph Chidyausiku (Sam Odusoga, 45) Saul Williams. Other substitutes- Oluwanimilo Ajigbolamu.
BISHOP’ S STORTFORD
Tyler McCarthy, George Cassy, Aaron Tumwa, Mark Hughes, captain – GOAL 69 minutes, (Jordan Westcott), Marvel Ekpiteta, Joe Robinson, Tyrique Hyde- Skerrit, Samuel Hatton, Afolabi Akenyemi, GOAL, 2 minutes, Jason Williams,HAT-TRICK, 11, 16 and 69 minutes, (Christian Owusu), Darren Foxley (Ryan Richefond). Other substitutes- Calvin Ekpiteta, Alex Rogers
Referee – Rober Evans, assisted by Abdul Kadir and Matthew Paul.