For the second game in succession Dunstable Town’s fine first half performances were undone in the 47th minute when game turning goals have been scored by our opposition. On Tuesday night Dean Ager’s second minute of the second half strike for Bishop’s Stortford proved to be the goal which changed the flow of the match, and today Hitchin Town’s man of the match, Tremeyne Charles decided the outcome of the game with a sweetly driven drive which left Dunstable keeper Nick Hayes with no chance of keeping it out. Overall this was another one of those “so nearly” games, which Dunstable were unlucky to lose and did more than enough to have secured what would have been a well-deserved point.
There was a welcome return for Nick Hayes who had missed the Bishop Stortford game due to a call up to the England U19’s camp in midweek. Nick had his usual commanding game, with one save in particular in the second half drawing breath and admiration of supporters’ of both teams. Nick’s place on Tuesday had been taken by his goalkeeping mentor, Richard Lee, who had a long and successful professional career.
Tony McCool shuffled his pack for today’s game and handed debuts to three new signings, all of whom have had senior football experience abroad, and who in Eldon Maquemba, have had international experience in the Angolan national team. Many of the Dunstable supporters present gazed at the tall bearded no. 6 for Dunstable and wondered why Scott Betts was now called Nik Andriopoulos, such was the similarity in their physiques and facial features. The no.4 shirt was handed to Stefan Vracui who’s international clearance had been eagerly pursued during the week and only confirmed mid-afternoon on Friday.
Be under no illusion, Tony, Gareth & Kevin work tirelessly to spot local talent who embrace the idea of playing for a community orientated, fan run club and today all three debutants, despite lacking recent game time, showed why Tony & his Team have been keen to see them join the club. We welcome all three players to our Club and thank them for the faith they’ve shown in us.
It was wonderful to see Steve Lewington provide two young junior players to act as mascots for the 1st Team today and their unbridled support and enthusiasm for our boys in blue and white was wonderful to see and hear. There were many other familiar faces in attendance today to support the Blues, and it is indeed very pleasing to know that Tony has stirred the enthusiasm of several new supporters who have not been put off by recent results and have turned up to support our boys. Also in attendance was Paul “Pipeman” Harris who has devoted so much of his spare time for the Dunstable Town cause over many a year taking on many different roles within the Club. It was great to see him swelling the ranks of ‘The Regiment’
The attendance at Top Field today was a healthy 457 and equalled their season average. Hitchin started brightly and tested the new look Dunstable defence and midfield with some sharp, open play switching the ball from wing to wing. But Dunstable held firm and had early chances themselves following some lovely interplay between Charlie Black, who again made the transition from Step 5 to Step 3 look easy, and Eldon Maquemba. The pattern of play for the first half demonstrated the competitive nature of the game with both sides seeking an opening against two strong defensive units using neat passing and clever running off the ball. Half chances came and went at both ends with Dunstable again, on a couple of occasions, being grateful for Peter Kioso’s excellent reading of the game to be in the right place at the right time to clear the ball.
Lanre Ladipo covered every blade of the Top Field turf tackling, making interceptions and creating attacking movements. Ty Ward again played well and has proven to be a welcome addition to the squad. Andrew Onsei-Bonsu was his usual creative self and Arel Amu put in another one of his strong, hardworking performances that did not get the reward it deserved. And the man himself, John Sonuga, captain incredible, Leader of Men, put in another disciplined performance which prompted our Chairman to start the “John Sonuga’s barmy army” chant. In John Sonuga & Gedeon Okito Dunstable have been blessed with having not only two excellent footballers, but two men who have distinguished themselves with their commitment and faith in what Tony, the Committee, and the fans are trying to build. Gedeon hopes to be fit to return for our home match against high flying Weymouth next Saturday and watched from the bench today.
Hitchin’s goal at the start of the second half was well taken by Trey Charles and if you’re going to lose a game by one goal then there was no shame in being on the wrong end of a goal of Trey’s quality. Home fans standing near me expected the floodgates to open and a porous defence to replace the water tight defence of the first half. But they were to be disappointed as Dunstable remained in the game, and nearly levelled on two occasions with Peter Kioso’s header from an Eldon Maquemba free kick finding the wrong side of the post and superb link up play between Andrew Osei-Bonsu and Peter Kioso not finding a blue shirt in the box to reward the build-up. At the other end Nick produced one save in the 68th minute which showed why he is so highly rated and thought of in the game. On another occasion Hitchin narrowly missed extending their lead when they hit the bar.
Tony & Kevin used all three subs with the ever young Jonny Barnett coming on in place of Charlie Black. Jonny has been a great servant of the club and to see him encouraging the younger players and throwing himself into the fray, rolling back the years, takes me back to when I first started to come and watch Dunstable play with Jonny ever present in the side. Daniel Trif came on for the injured Nik Andriopoulos and gave his all as you know Daniel always does. Erin Amu replaced Stefan Vracui and put in another 45 minutes of hard working endeavour.
Many Hitchin Town fans made gracious comments about our boy’s performance today, these were echoed by their committee members who complimented our style of play and never say die attitude. We wish Hitchin Town FC well for the rest of the season and thank them for their warm welcome and kind hospitality. Mark Burke, Hitchin’s manager had warned his players before the match about being complacent, and to their credit, they heeded his words and put in a solid performance, but they also know that the result today really was as narrow as the score line suggests.
A reminder that the Blues play their next two games at home against Weymouth and Basingstoke Town on the 9th & 16th of December respectively. We are pleased to announce that a further sponsor has been announced for another home game, which means that the next three consecutive matches will be sponsored, however there is still the opportunity to sponsor the match ball or individual player to promote your business or simply celebrate a special family occasion.
Please also try and support the Club’s annual appeal to supply the Salvation Army with warm winter clothing to help those less fortunate than ourselves, by bringing your unwanted woollies, gloves, hats scarves etc to Creasey Park next Saturday.