This may seem a strange way to start a match report, particularly one in which Dunstable Town had gained three valuable points against county neighbours Kempston Rovers, but it would be unsporting not to extend the Club’s huge gratitude to Peterborough Sports FC who facilitated the transfer of 19 year old keeper James Connell in double quick time to enable the Blues to play our 9th goalkeeper of the season.
Our thanks also to James Connell who made his way to the Club from over 50 miles away in a taxi to sign the necessary registration papers. James, yesterday, for those of you who were not among the 30 or so Dunstable supporters in a vociferous crowd of 134, played out of his skin and produced the goods when he needed to, making several important saves when Kempston looked dangerous and threatening.
Nick Hayes’ injury at Aveley meant he joined Will Hunt and Nathan Harness in the treatment room and with Fred Burbidge recalled by Borehamwood, Tony McCool put out an SOS on social media over the weekend to find a replacement keeper. The response was five goalkeepers plying their trade at training on Monday evening, looking to catch Tony & Gareth’s eye. Thanks to all of those who answered the call and made themselves available.
With a delightful touch of humour Tony added that the Club’s finances would allow a free parking space at Creasey Park and a half tank of fuel, and while we may not be blessed with a bountiful bank account, we are rich in team spirit, passion, commitment and desire. On the pitch and off it.
Unavailable for selection, but there supporting their team mates at the ground yesterday, were Joe Mead, Nathan Harness, Arel Amu and Ben Collins. Anybody who casts all footballers as having egos bigger than their talents and eyes which see only pound signs, needs to come and look a little bit closer at this squad of ours which Tony & Gareth nurture and develop. No big time Charlies, no egos, just honest, hard working young men committed to the cause and trying to be the best they can be. And yesterday individually and collectively they were pretty darn good. There were no weak links in the chain. Despite having nine players unavailable, seven of whom were injured, and being to name only three substitutes on the bench, Tony & Gareth put out a side which played with style and panache as well as some armour in performing heroic defensive duties.
There were recalls for James lauder & Hassan Sheikh with Daniel Trif partnering Saul Williams & Chris Wreh up front.
On ten minutes John Sonuga pounced in the box and forced a good save from Martin Conway the Kempston keeper, followed minutes later by good strikes from both Daniel Trif & Chris Wreh, the latter of those a rasping drive which looked on target but clipped a defender and went out for a corner.
Twenty minutes played and Dunstable gave away a soft penalty which earned James Connell a yellow card. Ben Shepherd tucked the ball away to give the Walnut Boys the lead. Two minutes later Connell needed to save well from former Blue, Shane Bush, but parity was restored nine minutes later when Alex Taylor was fouled in the box by Dainel Akubuine and Chris Wreh converted from the spot.
End to end play continued in a well contested match which saw James Connell out bravely at the feet of Shane Bush, and then a Marius Patru thunderbolt from 30 yards was only narrowly wide. This period of play leading up to half time saw chances and half chances at both ends and an absorbing first half saw honours even at the half time whistle.
Attacking intent from Dunstable was clear as the second half got under way. A bullet header from Hassan Sheikh was well saved by Conway, but shortly afterwards a smart attacking move with Alex Taylor powering forward before sliding the ball through for Saul Williams to tuck the ball into the bottom left hand corner on 51 minutes to put Dunstable into the lead.
Having found the back of the net relatively comfortably at the start of the season it really was gratifying to see Saul get his goal as he embodies, as do so many of our other players exactly what this team is all about, quiet, unassuming, patiently waiting for a chance, and then when that chance arrives, goes out there to show his game and says to the gaffers, “Here I am”.
Kempston threw everything at the Dunstable goal bar the proverbial kitchen sink for long periods of the second half. They had made all three substitutions by the hour mark, including former Blue, Mason Spence, who has played professionally at both MK Dons & Colchester Utd and has a Welsh U19 cap to his credit.
I noted the Kempston Rovers Twitter feed report mid -way through the second half that “The Dunstable keeper is having a blinder here”. He certainly did that, but this was also a magnificent defensive rearguard display by every single player with big John Sonuga leading by example. White shirts were everywhere snuffing out moves, tackling, blocking shots and laying their bodies on the line.
It wasn’t all one -way traffic though as Dunstable looked to play their way out from the back & midfield using Erin Amu’s strength, Alex Taylor’s wizardry and Hassan Sheikh’s vision.
Chris Wreh was replaced by Rio Dasilva for the final 15 minutes. End to end play continued as the seconds ticked away. Daniel Trif & Saul Williams continued to cause the Kempston defenders problems.
The game was finally put to bed on 89 minutes when Rio Dasilva took advantage of a delightful cross from Daniel Trif to bury the ball in the back of the net. This was Rio’s first competitive senior goal, and one, you hope, will be the first of many more to come.
This was a hard earned victory carved out of sheer grit & determination, against a hard working Kempston side who you feel will do more than ok this season. As so often is the case, when your back’s up against the wall, Tony & Gareth can only name a 14 man squad along comes a performance like today. This match had a lot of similarities to the victory away at Banbury on Boxing Day last season. An injury list as long as your arm. Empty spaces on the team-sheets for the substitutes, a goal down early on, but then character kicks in and the game is taken by the scruff of the neck and a result is fairly won.
Referee Brian O’Sullivan was complimentary of the players’ behaviour and respect he was afforded by the Team despite booking four of the players, which came as a nice tonic after one or two home truths were delivered to Pete, Patrick and myself at the Quadrant Centre stall by a potential spectator in the morning. But more of that after a greater period of reflection and discussion, as there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in this area as we don’t have the supporter numbers or the disinterested mindset to ignore people who would like to come and watch us play. But for now though lets be happy with a superb Team performance and one which has been coming. Creditable draws against Cambridge City, Corby Town, Bedford Town & narrow defeats to Bromsgrove and Aveley, have shown how nicely this team is taking shape & bodes well for the future.
I have found it impossible to select one player who I could say was that little bit better than his team mates, and therefore I’m sharing the Man of The Match among all the players yesterday for a performance which had everything in it.
Congratulations to Simon & Colin who masterminded a win away at Hartley Wintney in the Suburban League, which takes them up to 4th place. Goals from Russel Wilson & Ehban Nancarrow-Martin, were enough to see off the home side. It’s testimony to what Simon & Colin are achieving when I tell you that we were offered the chance to postpone the match as there would be no hot showers after the game, due to a broken boiler. The Managers had spent Thursday & Friday looking at their injury ravaged squad before finally making a selection, which included two players from Vince & Tyler Dunnell’s U18’s team.
You can catch the Development Team in action on Thursday evening at home against Abbey Rangers. Kick off is 7 45. Admission is £5 for Adults & Concessions. U18’s Free.
Two days later, on Saturday 10th November the First Team are in league action against Aylesbury Utd at Creasey Park, kick off time is 3pm. To commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day the players will be wearing specially designed shirts during the warm up, which will be sold to raise money for three ex Servicemens’ charities. In order to comply with the FA’s rules on advertising these shirts can not be worn during competitive fixtures.
We will also be joined by some special guests from Mind BLMK our charity partner this year, and will be organising a bucket collection to raise valuable funds for them. If you see our social media man, Nic Bliss busy interviewing people and doing lots of filming please be aware that he is working on the Club’s behalf on a project which we hope will be popular and successful in the weeks to come.
On a day when the football world came together to pay their respects and mourn the loss of Leicester City Chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the minute’s silence at Hillgrounds yesterday was impeccably observed. The thoughts and good wishes of all of us at Dunstable Town are with our football family colleagues at the Kingpower. Written by Andrew Madaras, Picture by Chris White.