DUNSTABLE TOWN 1 REDDITCH UNITED 1 HT 1-1 ATTENDANCE 193
I was rather hoping that Dunstable debut Hungarian goal keeper Attila Für would keep a clean sheet today so I could use the headline ‘Attila the None’, but it was not to be. Attila was not in the initial starting XI, but was drafted into the team as Casey Harker failed a late fitness test.
As it was he joined a battling Dunstable side that had a creditable draw against a team that had put five past them, without reply, on the opening day of the season, scoring four in the first half hour. Dunstable are a bit different now – they have more experience and showed the value of self-belief and the continuing hard work put in by the management team.
It was a blustery afternoon at Creasey Park and a youth tournament had taken place, which accounted for the numerous young persons milling round the players’ tunnel to cheer the teams onto the pitch. Back in the team from injury was Peter Kioso and Jonathan Barnett, but the latter did not as late in the first half as he needed to be replaced by Ben Collins.
Both teams needed to adjust to the windy conditions and it was Redditch who made the first assaults on goal, with Andy Thanoj blasting over the cross bar and Nathan Fox looking foxy on the left flank. Dunstable’s counter play was highly suggestive and they won a free kick on the edge of the area. This was ineffectively cleared and Arel Amu was quickly on to a loose ball just inside the area and his finish was emphatic and joyous as Dunstable had snatched the lead after twenty-two minutes.
Shortly after, Saul Williams combined with Aaron Young, who with a free shot put the effort over the cross bar. Redditch responded with urgency and maybe with surprise at the hosts’ tenacity, and Spencer Weir-Daley produced a low, accurate shot that was smartly saved by Attila Für. A throw-in from Dunstable saw a cross from Barnett that was cleared but it was clear that the home side sought to increase their lead.
Fox tried his luck with a decent shot, held by Für, who was now becoming, along with his defence a lot busier as the visitors probed. They did bag the equaliser after thirty-seven minutes, yet it may well be considered a soft goal to concede. Wide on the right, full-back Lewis Wright decided to have a go from range, and the ball took a decided bounce on its way to goal and it was enough to deceive Für and crept in at the far post. It was a little hard to take as Dunstable had defended nobly and successfully hitherto.
Dunstable’s response was immediate and they almost restored their lead when Amu crossed from the right to Andrew Osei-Bonsu who struck the ball accurately and firmly but it drew a notable save from West Bromwich Albion loan keeper Ethan Ross. Redditch responded by forcing two corners and again Fox was out-foxed by Attila Für. It was all, from a neutral point of view, very entertaining and Redditch finished the half strongly with a late free-kick that was adequately defended.
Both teams felt they could win this and play in the second half yielded plenty of opportunities for further goals. I did overhear one or two comments from Redditch officials that suggested that they had not expected the match to provide the difficulties for their team who had won so convincingly in their previous meeting. Home supporters were generally pleased and their expectations were high as, in their considered view that team has shown all-round improvement despite recent reverses.
The early rain had given way to some rather apologetic sunshine, and Weir–Daley had an apologetic expression for his colleagues when he had spurned, somehow, the golden chance to give his team the lead. Für had parried an incoming ball right into his path and a goal looked certain but his shot was just wide of the post. But much the same may be said of Amu who muscled his way into a fine run in possession and with the goal at his mercy from fairly close range he conspired to place the finish over the cross bar.
Ryan Young had been replaced by Brandy Makuendi and later Daniel Trif replaced the hard-working Saul Williams – and the visitors introduced Zaqib Hussain for Gowan Stares and they also brought on Pauly Apostolpolos for scorer Lewis Wright and Kyle Belmonte for Kevin Da Viera Monteiro. It did not alter the pattern of both sides looking eagerly for the goal to put their team ahead and probably win the game.
It was a good clean fight, so to speak, and as time progressed it looked likely that a late goal would be produced to gain maximum points, as both teams varied their repertoire.
It perhaps favoured Dunstable who were maybe a surprise package for the visitors who had won so easily at Redditch’s Valley Stadium. But, despite all efforts there were no more goals and, overall, a draw was an honourable result. The point gained by Dunstable today was of supreme importance as it helped lift them a place in the table as St Ives suffered a late defeat and Gosport Borough’s game was postponed owing to a waterlogged pitch.
Dunstable now have six points and thus go above St Ives. The Regiment was pleased but were claiming that a penalty might or should have gone our way, but I feel a point was ample reward for the tremendous effort from the squad who no longer look out of their depth. The home win against Farnborough has more significance as the Hampshire side recently notched up an away win at Hereford, and the draw at St Neots was reward for effort. Even the home defeat against table-toppers King’s Lynn left us feeling that there were good things to come from this ebullient Dunstable team.
Two vital matches are to be played in the course of a week. First there is the tricky Tuesday evening visit to the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead, where Kings Langley are the hosts, and then the FA Trophy game at home to Lewis in the Bostik (Isthmian) League where our visitors are Lewes, who are currently heading their division.
Nothing is easy of course, but for those who went to Redditch at the opening day of the season are delighted to see just how much Dunstable have progressed. A draw is not a win, but for a moment or two it felt like it today.
Redditch officials were gracious in their comments, as were the match officials, one of whom was on the line for the 0-6 game versus Merthyr Town. ‘It was like watching a different team;’ he told me. Well it was not that different in terms of personnel but it does show how valuable experience is and how it can be put to good effect.
Redditch may perhaps feel disappointed with just a point and it may well have added to their disappointment that their team coach had a flat front tyre, which prolonged their stay at Creasey Park. They should have been with us on the way home from Weymouth a couple of seasons ago when our coach gave up the ghost at Tolpuddle, but that is another story; let us progress to the next instalment in the steady revival for Dunstable Town.
Attila Fur, Peter Kioso, Gedeon Okito, Jonathan Barnett, cautioned (Ben Collins, 41, cautioned), John Sonuga, captain, Scott Betts, Ryan Young, (Brandy Makuendi), Lanre Ladipo, Arel Amu, GOAL, 22, Andrew Osei-Bonsu, Saul Williams, (Daniel Trif, 73), other substitute , Kieran Ogden, Casey Harker
Ethan Ross, Lewis Wright, GOAL, 37, (Pauly Apostolopoulos), Nathan Fox, Guiyoulouwe Mailancol, Gowan Stares, (Zaqib Hussian), Orrin Pendley, Kevin Da Veiga Monteiro, (Kyle Belmonte), Danny Jackman, captain, Dior Angus, Andi Thanoj, Sepencer Weir-Daley, other substitutes- Marcel Simpson, Elikim Amenku.
Referee- Andreas Anastasiou, assisted by Connor Griffin and Lior Koskas, all from Buckinhamshire and they had very good games overall.