Written by Andrew Madaras, Picture by Chris White.
There was a palpable sigh of relief at five minutes to five on Saturday afternoon when referee, Shaun Barry, blew his whistle for the final time bringing to a close a good game of football played in blustery and inclement conditions. Tony McCool’s passion and love of this Club unabated as he walked up the tunnel to the applause of the Dunstable fans, as Town recorded their first home league win of the season. Goals from Hassan Sheikh in the first half, and Gedeon Okito in the second half looked as though Dunstable would be able to claim their first League home win of the season until the third of five stoppage time minutes brought what proved to be a consolation goal for a battling Thame Utd, but made sure that those last few seconds felt like minutes as watches and phones were regularly checked. Also essential to the victory was a Man of the Match performance from Nathan Harness who made some superlative saves to keep the Dunstable lead intact. The victory was reward for the hours of planning and training that goes on behind the scenes, for the cohesiveness and loyalty of Managers and players, and for our fans who have stayed loyal and seen “the bigger picture” and understand that rebuilding the Club will take time and patience. Thame Utd started the day in the play off places, having recently beaten fellow play off contenders, Corby Town and Bedford Town as well as gaining a creditable draw against Bromsgrove Sporting. Last week they had beaten AFC Dunstable on their home patch. The pre-kick off form book would have told you that Thame should have expected at the very least a share of the spoils, however Dunstable Town supporters who regularly watch both the home and away performances know that recent performances have deserved points as well as the plaudits we have received. Bedford Town away on Tuesday night being another case in point. One effort off the crossbar, two goals disallowed and three efforts cleared off the line, but still no points to show for all that hard work. Dunstable started strongly playing with the wind behind them, and were soon applying sustained pressure to the Thame goal. Maintaining good possession and no doubt buoyed by the return of midfield dynamo, Alex Taylor, Hassan Sheikh saw an early header from a corner go the wrong side of the post. Ten minutes later though Hassan Sheikh, again left unchallenged, rose majestically to nod Marius Patru’s precision point corner into the back of the net. One nearly became two, minutes later when good work by Arel Amu set up Chris Wreh who was narrowly wide with his effort. Still the blue shirts poured forward but despite excellent preparatory work, no further goals were forthcoming. By the half hour mark, Thame had weathered the storm and began to exert their own period of pressure. Nathan Harness made some smart saves and confidently controlled his territory & claimed wind effected high balls as and when they came in his direction. John Sonuga and Kyle Lincoln have developed a strong defensive barrier and with Gedeon Okito & Joe Mead both on the top of their games, Thame were restricted in their endeavours despite pushing men forward. All over the pitch, Dunstable shirts harried and pressured and in possession passed the ball quickly out to the wings or through the middle to where Arel Amu and Chris Wreh sought further advantage. Saul William’s late withdrawl through injury meant Marius Patru started further up the field and looked effective on the ball. Erin Amu was strong and dominant and had two goal bound shots well saved. Half time came with Dunstable still ahead but Thame threatening to come back on level terms. Six minutes into the second half saw Chris Wreh use sheer strength and power to outmanoeuvre his marker and put an inviting cross into the box, which to the relief of the Thame team, couldn’t find a blue shirt to apply the final touch. Chris Wreh couldn’t quite find the finishing touch desired as two chances fell his way in quick succession, while at the other end the Dunstable defence was holding firm when Thame approached, and Nathan Harness dealt superbly with everything that got past the back line. James Lauder came on for the final half hour and immediately established his growing maturity and confidence on and off the ball with some fine passing and intelligent running. With twenty minutes to go Daniel Trif replaced Chris Wreh to give Dunstable a slightly different option up front. Minutes later & Gedeon Okito cutting in from the left fired home for his first goal of the season. Cue unadulterated scenes of joy and happiness as Dunstable began to get the scent of victory in their nostrils. Ben Collins replaced Alex Taylor as Tony & Gareth sought to boost the defensive line for the final ten minutes. We waited expectantly for Thame to throw the proverbial kitchen sink but despite the lions share of the ball for the final minutes the Dunstable defence held firm. That heart in mouth finale came in the third minute of stoppage time when referee Shaun Barry adjudged a Thame player had been fouled as he was dispossessed of the ball. It was a controversial call by Mr Barry but one which Thame took full advantage of and reduced the deficit with a superbly struck free kick. Anxious moments passed, but Dunstable held out and gained a thoroughly deserved three points. On Tuesday evening Dunstable went down 3 – 1 at the New Eyrie to much fancied Bedford Town. Talented young starlet, Rio Dasilva suffered a broken leg towards the end of the game. The unity of the Club was evident with Rio’s appearance at Creasey Park, still in plaster and needing to be pushed in a wheelchair. I’m sure you will all join with me in wishing Rio a speedy and comprehensive recovery & look forward to seeing him return to full fitness. On Saturday we travel to Peterborough Sports for our penultimate league game before Christmas. The following Saturday we travel back to Cambridgeshire to play Yaxley, then it’s the big one, the Dunstable derby on Boxing Day at Creasey Park, kick off 1 pm. The Club is offering half price admission to Luton Town & other Premier League & EFL season ticket holders. Your support as always is greatly appreciated. Our Development Team were narrowly defeated by Suburban League rivals Tring Athletic. Simon & Colin will be keen to get back to winning ways on Thursday evening when Leverstock Green visit Creasey Park. Kick off is 7 45 pm with admission £5 / Under 16’s free. A final word of thanks to The Curry Garden in Katherine Drive who not only have generously sponsored one of our youth teams, but also hosted a party of 30 Dunstable Town members and their families who enjoyed a festive get together, made all the more enjoyable with the wonderful victory hours earlier at Creasey Park. One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town.