Dunstable Town 0-1 Barton Rovers .
Written by Andrew Madaras, Picture by Chris White.
A one nil reverse at the hands of local neighbours Barton Rovers was a bitter pill to swallow, not because of any animosity or ill-feeling between the Clubs, but because this was another game which Dunstable Town should not have lost. That they did so was largely due to some inspired goalkeeping from former Blue Gary Malone, in the Barton goal, and an 8th minute deflected own goal from a corner which proved to be the only goal of the game.
As against Aylesbury Utd, Avely and Didcot in the past few weeks, the game was settled by a one goal margin where points and just a little bit of luck appeared to escape us.
The match will be remembered though by many as it marked the 200th competitive appearance in Dunstable colours of Jonathon Barnett, who came on as a late second half substitute as Blues supremos, Tony & Gareth had a last shuffle of the pack, but even Jonny’s wise head and predatory goal scoring instincts couldn’t rescue a point.
Jonny has been a remarkable servant of the Club and has graced the Creasey Park turf for many of us to have enjoyed over the years. In a post-match presentation for Jonny, Tony spoke of how his reading of the game, his biting tackle, his distribution and execution of dead balls could have had him playing far higher up the pyramid. Jonny is one of football’s genuinely nice guys. There’s no malice in him on or off the field, he’ll let his opponents know he’s there on the pitch, but there will only be words of encouragement and advice for his colleagues when things aren’t going to plan. The Club owes Jonny a debt of gratitude for his service, and hope he continues to grace us with his presence for a little bit longer.
Barton came into this game on a wretched run of form having lost their last five league games and finding the back of the net only once in that time. Their last win before yesterday, ironically, came against Kempston Rovers, who the Blues had also beaten by the same 3 - 1 score-line, for their last three points. There was a sprinkling of former Blues in Barton Manager, Tony Fontenelle’s team selection. Victor Osubu, who had tormented, and I use the word literally as well as metaphorically, a Kettering team on a Tuesday night at Creasey Park, three or four years ago, which had the Kettering fans imploring their manager to “sign him up”. Drew Philips, Stef Bailey, Gary Jones and Gary Malone have all also been on the DTFC payroll in seasons past.
For Dunstable Town, Tony & Gareth were able to welcome back Nathan Harness in goal after a three month lay off due to injury. Nathan’s last game was on the 1st September in the 3 – 3 draw with Coleshill. Since then Tony & Gareth have suffered a goalkeeping injury crisis which saw the fielding of seven different keepers in that time. Also returning was Kyle Lincoln whose calm and measured reading of the game has also been missed.
With Ethan Lamptey and Alex Taylor still injured and Hassan Sheikh unavailable, it was good to see both Ethan & Alex joined by George Naismith and former Blue, Andrew Osei-Bonsu, in a healthy looking crowd.
Barton came out of the traps first and were passing the ball round confidently and putting early pressure on the Blues goal. In their first real creative move, Marius Patru crossed a dangerous ball into the box from the right but was unable to find an advancing blue shirt. Fellow countryman, Daniel Trif’s efforts suffered the same fate a few minutes later.
On 8 minutes though, a Barton corner from the left was not adequately cleared and the ball ricocheted into the back of the Dunstable goal off a Dunstable boot. When lady luck is not shining on you these things happen. On another occasion the ball is booted safely upfield, just as on any other “99 times out of 100” the Didcot equaliser doesn’t go in, nor does the Aylesbury Utd first goal. But on these small twists of fate are matches now being decided and the Dunstable task grew that little bit bigger after this early set back.
Saul Williams let fly on the quarter hour stinging Gary Malone’s fingertips, and a minute later a long clearance from Nathan Harness appeared to bounce awkwardly for Malone but ultimately landed safely on the roof of the net.
Malone was on good form yesterday and saved bravely from Chris Wreh as Dunstable turned up the pressure. The approach play was attractive to the eye, but Barton defended well and a lack of precision in the final ball left the Blues frustrated at not being able to find what would have been a deserved equaliser.
However Barton Rovers hadn’t come to park the bus and after the half hour, Gary Jones let rip which needed all of Nathan Harness good positioning and safe hands to deal safely with.
Further pressure from Dunstable as the first half neared its conclusion saw more shots from Arel Amu and Gedeon Okito but no change in the score-line.
The second half saw plenty of Dunstable possession and pressure but even bringing on substitutes Charlie Black, Erin Amu and Jonny Barnett could not influence the score-line.
The Barton Rovers Twitter feed at the end of the match read;
“Credit to Dunstable Town a great display of flowing football”
And that it was. Fast, one touch and intelligent running, but yesterday the Barton defence could not be breached as hard as the men in Blue shirts tried.
Gary Malone kept a clean sheet with some smart saves and although Chris Wreh had the ball in the back of the net it came after referee, Andrew Humphrie’s, whistle so was chalked off.
Rio Dasilva tested Malone’s agility but the latter was up to the task and as much as Saul Williams probed and looked for chinks in the Barton armour, captain Paul Andrews marshalled his troops superbly to make sure the three points travelled back up the A6 to Sharpenhoe Rd.
So on a day that saw Jonny Barnett play his 200th competitive fixture in a Dunstable shirt Tony McCool payed tribute to his service and exemplary professionalism ,it was only fitting therefore that Jonny’s reply was reflective and a guide for young players to enjoy the game and be the best they can be. A guard of honour as he left the field a fitting tribute to a man who has Dunstable Town coursing through his veins. The man, the legend, Jonathon Barnett.
On Tuesday night, we travel further up the A6 to Bedford Town in our re-arranged fixture from last Saturday. Kick off is 7.45 pm.
Next Saturday we take on Thame Town in Southern League action in what will be our last home fixture before Christmas. Kick off is 3 pm.
Our Boxing Day fixture against fellow Creasey Park ground-sharers, AFC Dunstable has a revised kick off time of 1 pm.
We look forward to seeing you all at both fixtures and thank you for your continued and loyal support.
This week we expect to launch our Crowdfunding venture to raise money for Mind, Mind BLMK (Beds, Luton & Milton Keynes) and for the Club itself. For each pound donated, the two charities will benefit by receiving two thirds with the Club receiving one third. This is an even three way split which we hope will be generously supported by Club supporters at home and further afield. Our charity partners do the most excellent work in promoting good mental health and advocating on behalf of an often disempowered and voiceless section of society. To successfully do their work they need our support and as much money as you feel comfortable donating.
You will have noticed that the Club has been proactive in this area by providing Mind BLMK with pitchside advertising boards and front of shirt logos. This is just the start of what we hope will be a long and fruitful association between ourselves and our charity partners.
To accompany the crowdfunding launch we commissioned one of our social media team, Nic Bliss, to make a short film to promote the launch and explain what the Club is trying to do both on and off the field. We hope you enjoy Nic’s work as much we do and will share the links to the video and crowdfunding appeal as widely and as extensively as you can do.
One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town.