KINGS LANGLEY 1 DUNSTABLE TOWN 0 HT 1-0 ATTENDANCE 245
This was not an easy game to predict since Kings Langley had yet to win at home and their only win so far was at Creasey Park in the second game of the season. Dunstable had yet to win away, but the solid performance against Redditch United would have given the players some confidence against a team just a place or two above them.
Gaywood Park had undergone some impressive refurbishment, which is still on-going. The pitch was pristine and the spectator areas have been considerably improved, thanks to the generous support of Watford FC to facilitate their Ladies side playing their home matches at Gaywood.
I think it fair to say that this was not Dunstable’s best performance of the season. Dunstable had come alive and were pressing manfully for the equaliser. If they had played in this spirit for the whole of the game, we may well have seen the first Dunstable away win of the season.
The game was of particular importance to both clubs who are anxious for points and both obviously felt the win was there for the taking – and it was the hosts who looked the likelier to score in the opening spell. They were quicker to the ball, regained possession and had a good deal more chances than their visitors whose play was strangely muted.
Gareth Price had a lively time of it, his run was suggestive but the shot was ballooned over the bar. Arel Amu and Gedeon Okito tried their bit of pace and won a corner that was easily cleared and at the other end Kieran Turner put another over the bar.
Andrew Osei – Bonsu combined with Brandy Makuendi and his shot brought a corner which culminated in a blocked effort from Lanre Ladipo. A free kick from Dean Hitchcock was a good one and from the created chance John Sonuga was there to clear virtually from his goal line. Mitchell Weiss tried one from range but it was too optimistic.
There was a good touch from Jonathan Barnett, which put Saul Williams through but that was halted by the adamant off-side flag. After half an hour of mostly Kings pressure, it occurred to me that of this could be absorbed without concession then, as the game went on it may well favour Dunstable.
Yet from a Dunstable free-kick, gathered by Martin Bennett who opted for the route one and, this stretched the visitors’ defence and a rash challenge from goal keeper Attila Für saw, unsurprisingly, referee Daniel Simpson point to the white spot. Dispute was but token and Hitchcock converted well, and it was ten minutes to half-time.
Dunstable were not without effort and they forced two successive corners, without any real threat and a Barnett free kick was easy for Bennett. But the half finished with Gareth price shooting wide but with the suggestion that there was more to come.
It was significant that only a penalty separated the two teams as the hosts, although gaining many opportunities had not been really on target. But Dunstable and lived a little dangerously in defence and once again they had struggled to seize and maintain possession, with many clearances being haphazard. Honesty compels me to opine that the hosts had been the better side in the first half. I was, of course, willing to disregard that and consoled myself to a degree that if that penalty could have been avoided it might have brought increasing discomfort to the home side who may well have opened a few gaps at the back as the game went on.
Kings substituted Weiss with Brendan Ocran at the resumption and Dunstable employed all three permitted substitutes in this second period. They did not begin to well as Kings resumed their forward play. Osei-Bonsu and Ladipo were answering the call for needed aggression but a shot over the bar was the best that could be managed. Saul Williams shaped for a shot from a good move on the left flank but it needed spontaneity rather than thought and he was neatly dispossessed. Gareth Price had an alarmingly good run and shot but his effort went wide.
Kings forced two corners and one had some hectic activity produced in the penalty area, with Dunstable prevailing in defence. The visitors lacked bite and too many moves were intercepted and it did look that an equaliser was unlikely. Then there came that frantic last ten minutes, punctuated with a bit of ‘handbags’ that caused a bit of a delay. But there was a good deal of legitimate aggression where it seemed the pressure would bag a goal, however untidy and I was not the first to ask why the visitors did not play like this before this late stage.
Kings were not panicking but defended mightily and they needed to. Two free kicks from Dunstable caused mayhem but the equaliser eluded them – painfully so. A great, late effort from Gedeon Okito was just tipped over the bar by Martin Bennett and there was a further fine chance for Peter Kioso.
Following this, a punt up field – one of those ‘just boot it as far as you can’ jobs saw substitute Ocran challenge for the ball with Scott Betts who lost possession and Ocran was away - his shot hitting the outside of the post when he ought to have scored. A minute later and the final whistle went and Dunstable went back to the second bottom slot as St Ives won at Biggleswade, and Gosport Borough lost at Slough to remain in the basement.
If only Dunstable had played as they did in the final ten minutes – and we would have indeed taken a point and said it was a battling performance. They had been a bit under the cosh but had held out would have been my summing up. But it was really a below par performance after the creditable display against Redditch United at the weekend.
Dunstable now face Lewes in the FA Trophy on Saturday (28 Oct) and then, providing they do not draw then they travel to Hereford on Tuesday (31 Oct.) Of course, Hereford’s own result in the Trophy may well have a bearing on matters.
Martin Bennett, Gary Connolly, Callum Adeyebi, Emmanuel Folarin, Jorell Johnson, captain, Dean Hitchcock, PENALTY GOAL, 35 minutes, Kieran Turner, Josh Coldicott-Stevens, Mitchell Weiss, (Brendan Ocran), Gareth Price, Stevie Ward. Other substitutes- Warren Plowright, Ross Hampton, Sam Tring, Jack Pattison.
Attila Für, Peter Kioso, Gedeon Okito, cautioned, Jonathan Barnett, (Ben Collins, 56), John Sonuga, captain, Scott Betts, Brandy Makuendi, (Kieran Ogden, 57), Lanre Ladipo, Daniel Trif, 82), Arel Amu, Andrew Osei-Bonsu, cautioned, Saul Williams,other substitutes – Aaron Hudson and Claudio Silva.
Referee – Daniel Simpson assisted by Mourad Bougouizi and James Barry – all had good games.