Fans from both teams came out in force for this fixture and it proved to be The Blues biggest crowd of the season with just over 500 in attendance. Hereford fans came from far and wide and played their part in not only supporting their team but creating a great atmosphere. The fans mingled and chatted and this was a great advertisement for non-league football. Mutual respect was shown both on and off the field. It was a pleasure to host the fans, officials, players, manager and coaches of Hereford FC. Dunstable Town youth team mascots led out the teams and had a great time including having their photos taken before the match began.
The Blues welcomed back Captain, John Sonuga at the heart of the defence, ably supported by Will Hunt in goal, Daniel Triff at right back, Gedoen Okito at left back and Kieran Ogden as his fellow centre back. Our midfield and attack consisted of Ty Ward, Ryan Young, Lanre Lapido, Charlie Black, Arel Amu and Andrew Osei-Bonsu. Our substitutes were Ben Collins, Alex Ward, Erin Amu. Saul Williams and Nimmy Aji. Tony McCool and Gareth Jackson had obviously set the team to attack with pace and defend with fortitude and strength, with plenty in reserve.
Our young lions were not overawed by playing the vastly more experienced visitors and set about their task with vigour. It is fair to say that Hereford started the brighter and had the better of the earlier exchanges. Mike Symons, the giant of a centre forward for The Bulls made his presence felt but John Sonuga and Kieran Ogden gave as good as they got. There were interesting tussles between the Herford forwards and our defence.
Will Hunt made a number of saves and Hereford rattled the bar before making the decisive breakthrough in the 25th minute with Symons creating an opening for Rob Purdie to put away. 1-0 to The Bulls but our valiant lions were unbowed, dusted themselves down and tried to make amends but unfortunately, went further behind in the 33rd minute when Lance Smith scored on the counter-attack.
Did The Blues heads go down? No way and for the rest of the half they fought back into the game with our midfield and attack leading the way. It was obvious the Hereford defence was wary of our attacking creativity and speed as they did struggle at times to deal with the threat of Ryan Young, Arel Amu, Charlie Black and Andrew Osei-Bonsu. However, for all their efforts they were unable to penetrate The Bulls defence that was ably marshalled by Ryan Green.
At half-time, The Blues made a double substitution in order to change the direction of the match with Ty Ward being replaced by his namesake Alex Ward and Daniel Triff by Saul Williams. Saul Williams proved to be dynamic in midfield making tackles, tracking back and trying to create positive forward movement. Alex Ward settled into his role as being a tough tackling midfield dynamo not prepared to give the opposition an inch.
The changes made a difference and there was more of an ebb and flow to the game. The Blues held off Hereford for the majority of the second half with John Sonuga leading the way with tackle after tackle closely followed by Kieran Ogden, who as usual put every part of his body in front of any oncoming ball and adhered to the old adage that if in doubt, boot it out! Lanre Lapido who dropped back to play on the right-hand side of the defence and Gedoen Okito on the left also put in a shift and defended stoutly. If anything got past these four then Will Hunt was on hand to block, parry and athletically save.
However, Hereford continued to press and put the match beyond doubt, when in the 77th minute a well worked corner led to a Symons flick-on which was put into the net by Ryan Green.
There was a welcome return for Nimmy Aji, who was thrown into the fray. For sure the Hereford defence was wary of our own giant forward and at every given opportunity they were forceful in their challenges as they saw him as a threat.
However, there was to be no consolation for the home team as in the 90th minute, Hereford’s Elliot Richards latched on to the ball and scored with a blistering shot that Will Hunt could do nothing about.
There was no embarrassment in this defeat. The team gave their all. They never stopped running or gave up. This was clearly a match where experience told over youth. Our boys exemplify the Corinthian spirit of play hard, fair and accept defeat with grace. They are great ambassadors for the club.
We wish Hereford FC all the best for the rest of the campaign and thank both the officials and fans for all the great compliments they paid us before, during and after the match. We always aim to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We respect the fact that fans from other clubs, such as Hereford, are prepared to travel long distances to support their team. Hence, we aim to make their visit as hospitable and pleasant as possible.
I would like take this opportunity to thank the multitude of volunteers and police officers who helped with ensuring the safety and enjoyment of fans, parking, stewarding, selling merchandising, 50-50 and Golden Goal tickets, providing catering, looking after the mascots, as well as the Hereford and match officials. Our magnificent volunteers helped to make this a great match day experience for all.
We are Dunstable Town FC – we remain resolute and committed. Please continue to support us as we rebuild the club. Our next home match is against Gosport Borough on Saturday 3rd March. This is another massive game for the club.
Come down and bring family and friends with you. You are guaranteed a friendly and hospitable welcome with the opportunity of watching a fantastic bunch of young men play for our cause.