Written by Andrew Madaras, Picture by Chris White .
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. In a tumultuous week at Creasey Park, Tony McCool’s number two, Gareth Jackson, asked the Committee what was needed of him, accepted the task, stepped up to the challenge, and yesterday delivered the perfect tonic to put a smile back on the faces of many who had worn worried frowns during the week. We can only say thank you to Gareth and pay tribute to his sense of duty and loyalty in staying true to his and our core beliefs and steadying the ship as it navigated choppy waters. Thanks also to Development Team Coach, Colin Lauder and Player / Coach Valentino Qoku for stepping up and aiding and abetting Gareth on the bench yesterday.
Yesterday’s performance against second in the table, Bromsgrove Sporting, will be remembered for a long time for several reasons. The sheer dogged determination of all the players to put on a display to make everyone associated with the Club proud of what has been achieved in a still relatively short period of time. This was just the type of performance for our players to showcase their talent and prove what a talented bunch of young men Tony & Gareth assembled and coached over the past six months. To beat the team lying second in the table, defeated only three times all season and boasting the League’s best marksman was always going to be a tall order and a difficult ask, but the hastily rearranged management team took to the challenge and delivered the goods.
And just in case you were wondering debutant goalkeeper, Connor Coulson, joined the salubrious ranks of emergency stoppers the Club has used this season, who have been in a winning team on their debuts, joining Fred Burbidge, Nick Hayes and James Connell. Connor became the 10th goalkeeper the Club have used this season during an unprecedented period of injury and unavailability.
In October the Blues had travelled to Bromsgrove and given a good account of themselves falling narrowly to a 1 – 0 defeat, but gaining the plaudits of Sporting manager, Brendan Kelly who referred to Dunstable Town as;
“The only side that have tried to come and play against us here….”
As a Club we were treated like kings that day by some of the most genuine, decent football people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Conciliatory in victory and gracious in defeat. This is a football club, which deserves to be playing at a higher level, has the facilities to do so, and the passionate support of nearly 900 people every home game to cheer them on. There are clubs three divisions higher who don’t get their level of support, Braintree Town, Borehamwood and Gateshead all lag behind as do all but seven clubs in the Conference South.
Backed yesterday by approximately 100 of their own vociferous supporters, The Rouslers, in their away strip of all green had the ball in the net after 20 minutes through Jason Cowley, only to see the Assistant Referee raise his flag for offside and the goal disallowed. Cowley was clearly proving to be a formidable opponent. Minutes before his disallowed goal he had whipped in a cross which escaped all the advancing green shirts.
If Connor Coulson had any nerves in making his first senior appearance, he kept them well hidden. He organised the defenders in front of and calmly went about his business doing what was expected of him in an efficient and experienced fashion.
Bromsgrove continued to press and eventually got their reward with a goal from Jason Cowley following good work from Cameron Peters after 26 minutes.
Back stormed Dunstable and 90 seconds later were back on level terms as Saul Williams smashed the ball into the roof of the net to get into double figures for the season.
This was exactly the response Blues fans had hoped for and for the remainder of the half both sides continued to cancel out each other’s attacking intentions. Although Bromsgrove had the lions’ share of possession and had more shots on goal in the first 45 minutes, the pace of the Dunstable front three on the counter was clearly something Bromsgrove would need to be wary of as the second half got underway.
Blues fans though were punching the air in delight as Arel Amu, at the near post, deftly turned Saul Williams’ delightful cross past Jonathan Brown in the Sporting goal after 46 minutes to put Dunstable ahead and raise hopes of 3 more points on the board.
Bromsgrove looked to hit back in the same way Dunstable had in the first half but the Dunstable defensive midfield and back line held firm and played superbly, individually and collectively to keep the Rouslers at bay.
On 55 minutes Bromsgrove made their first substitution replacing Liam Spink with Charlie Dowd. Dowd it was who had scored the only goal in the game in October, minutes after coming on as a second half substitute in that game. Dowd proved to be a tricky opponent possessing lovely dribbling skills and looking dangerous every time he got the ball.
Dunstable were determined to defend the lead and whenever possible broke quickly on the counter, James Lauder shot for goal from an Arel Amu cross and was only narrowly wide.
Just past the hour mark, Connor Coulson, pulled off the save of the day with a dive down low to his left to keep out a drive from Cameron Peters. How much of the ball Coulson saw as it travelled through a sea of legs in front of him and how much was instinct we may never know, but the result was the same, his outstretched arms managed to guide the ball away from danger and Blues supporters to a man applauded the save.
With 20 minutes to go Connor’s save took on even bigger significance as Arel Amu beat the offside trap, seized on a long ball, and managed to squeeze the ball round the advancing Brown. 3 -1 and the home fans were in their element. Arel has now scored 14 league goals from his 19 starts this season with his decisive finishing improving as the season continues.
With a quarter hour left on the clock, Dunstable made a double substitution with Chris Wreh and Hassan Sheikh replacing Erin Amu & Saul Williams. Then minutes later James Lauder was replaced by Ben Collins.
Bromsgrove pushed forward in numbers and Coulson continued to keep them at bay, bravely out to the feet one minute and then pushing over a Dowd drive the next.
With the clock ticking down Bromsgrove pulled a goal back on 88 minutes with a Craig Jones header from a free kick. The proverbial kitchen sink approach had paid dividends, but was there sufficient time for Bromsgrove to grab an equaliser ?
The referee signalled an additional 4 minutes of stoppage time, sufficient time for Connor to produce another marvellous save and earn himself the Man of The Match award from Match Ball sponsor & loyal Blue, Maurice Sullivan, and to deny Bromsgrove a share of the points. Keeping out the League’s top scorer, Richard Gregory is not something many keepers have managed to do this season but yesterday Connor did just that.
So a result which many in the non league football world I suspect didn’t see coming, but one borne very much out a sense of unity and pride in what has been achieved and one which speaks volumes about the calibre of the players Tony & Gareth have assembled and of the tactics deployed by Gareth, Colin & Val in training and in the dressing room.
The Bromsgrove Sporting committee were complimentary of the Blue’s performance, and proved that the Sporting part of the Club’s name is very much part of who they are as people too. We wish them every success for the remainder of the season.
Despite having played for West Ham U 23’s in the morning against Swansea City U 23’s, and keeping a clean sheet in their 2 – 0 victory, Nathan Harness and his parents were here yesterday to support the lads as was Marius Patru and Ethan Lamptey. Deena Harness said it was like “coming home” to watch the lads play, and as a club seeking long term sustainability around the only pathway at all viable, becoming a focal part of the community and welcoming families into the fold has to be the way forward.
Nathan will be at West Ham on trials for the next 5 – 6 weeks and will not be available for selection during this period. It goes without saying that the Club wishes Nathan every success during his trial with the Hammers.
Next up for the Blues is an away trip to Cambridge City on Saturday 26th September k/o 3 pm. Blues supporters are reminded that Cambridge City play their home matches at Histon FC, Bridge Rd, Impington, CB24 9PH. The increase in numbers of the traveling support is greatly appreciated by Gareth & the players so please come and join us on our travels next week.
In the meantime, the Development Team will be going head to head with Tring Athletic Development Team in the Suburban Challenge Group D at Creasey Park on Thursday 24th January with a kick off time of 7 45 pm. Admission is £5, with U 16’s admitted free. Entertainment guaranteed. Please come down and support the Club’s stars of tomorrow.
A reminder also that we are championing mental health charities Mind & Mind BLMK this season and are running a crowd funding appeal to raise money for both charities and the Club as a whole. If you could spare even just a few pounds your help would be hugely appreciated. Please follow the link here to contribute. Thank you.
One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town.