Written by Andrew Madaras, Picture by Chris White .
Sometimes you just have to forget club loyalty and allegiance and admire your opponents tactics and craft. Saturday’s tie against table topping Peterborough Sports was one such occasion. To all intents and purposes the match was over by fourteen minutes past three as Peterborough raced to an unassailable 4 – 0 lead. There’s a reason why Peterborough are top of the League, three games in hand and a point ahead of nearest rivals Bromsgrove Sporting…in fact there are several reasons why, but here’s a couple of them. When you have a defence that is as mean as theirs, a defence which has only conceded 18 league goals all season, half the amount conceded by nearest challengers, and you’ve banged in 75 at the other end, it’s fair to say, you’ve assembled a team that knows exactly what to do. All 11 men out on the pitch, comfortable with their tasks and responsibilities, collectively click into gear and performs consistently at their optimum level. Much of their approach play and clinical execution was a wonderful advert for football at this level and well worth the price of admission. There’s Football League experience in abundance in their ranks, Dion Sembie-Ferris with Colchester Utd, Johnny Herd with Southend Utd, James Stevenson with Luton, and many others with Conference and Conference North & South experience. This is a team that has bags of quality and experience and should surely hold their own at Step 3 next season if their current trajectory continues. As our ground sharing compatriots, AFC Dunstable, discovered a couple of months ago, getting beaten by seven goals by Peterborough Sports can be an occupational hazard. This is a club that has only failed to find the back of the net twice all season. For Dunstable Town, the occasion was marked by a presentation on the pitch for Mr Loyalty personified, Gedeon Okito, who played his 100th competitive game for the Club last week in the thrilling 2 – 1 victory at Corby Town. Gedeon proudly wore the Captain’s armband for the afternoon. John Sonuga’s work commitments meant he was unavailable for the starting X1, while Kieran Ogden, now fully recovered from injury, partnered Daniel Trif in the Centre Half slots. Alex Taylor missed out due to suspension, but it meant a home debut for former Haringey Borough, Kings Langley & Berkhamsted Raiders man, Davide Pobbe. Otherwise Gareth Jackson kept faith in the team that had played so superbly at Steel Park seven days ago. Missing from the Bench were Colin Lauder and Val Qoku who were on Development Team duties in the Beds FA Intermediary Challenge Cup. Along with Simon Reilly the managerial trio plotted the victory over Biggleswade and now can look forward to a Cup Final on Wednesday 17th April. More of which later. A goal from Mark Jones after just 5 minutes was just the start home fans had prayed would not happen. In the corresponding fixture before Christmas a first half Chris Wreh goal had made Peterborough chase the game for long periods in seasonally atrocious conditions before grabbing a late second half equaliser. Any hopes that history might repeat itself were quashed just five minutes later as Jones struck again. A minute later and Lewis Hilliard, showing all the experience from his days in the Conference North, grabbed a third, and just three minutes later, Paul Malone, another man with Conference North experience, popped up to grab a fourth. There were a few unfavourable comments from an higher than average crowd of 145, including 25 or so from Peterborough, but the vast majority could see that the gulf in experience was going to make this a difficult day and potentially a long afternoon. But credit to all the players for brushing themselves down and rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck into their task. Gareth loudly urging them on from the touch line, extolling every player in a blue shirt to keep their heads up and play with passion and heart. He got that response all over the park. All over the pitch the lads looked to play pass and move football. The towering height of Malone and Jones at the back for Peterborough meant that any offensive moves would need to be played round them as they were never going to be beaten in the air. Several times blue shirts advanced promisingly only to see the final pass snuffed out or go astray. However the lads kept plugging away looking to pull at least one goal back before the half time whistle blew. On 38 minutes Peterborough extended their lead further when former Northampton Town man, Josh McCammon, struck the first of his two goals for the afternoon. Saul Williams replaced Davide Pobbe for the second half but with only five minutes of the half played, Peterborough scored their sixth of the afternoon with a well taken penalty from Daniel Lawlor. Fifteen minutes later Marcus Gouldbourne breached the Peterborough back line before having his heels clipped by a defender’s trailing leg. Assistant Referee Christodoulou kept his flag down & Referee Wayne Chalmers produced a yellow card for Marcus I assumed for diving. Photographic evidence suggested on this occasion the referee made the wrong call, but otherwise had a good game and kept an evenly tempered match flowing. Another young man who made his home debut, from the subs’ bench was Jonathan Osae, signed from MK Robins, who replaced the tireless James Lauder in midfield. Osae had started in midweek for the Development Team and showed he has game in abundance. Going into the final fifteen minutes Peterborough evened matters up in the Dunstable “7”’s with McCammon getting his second and his side’s seventh, and thankfully, final goal of proceedings. In the final 10 minutes Dunstable so nearly got what would have been a deserved consolation with Jonathan Osae not quite getting on the end of a delightful cross from Marcus Gouldbourne, who never stopped running yesterday. There was time for George Naismith to come on and get some well earned game time under his belt. George has waited patiently and loyally for his turn and did well yesterday when he came on. Anybody who thought at 7 – 0 down the lads would give up, was hopelessly mistaken, as Gedeon’s 85th minute last ditch tackle showed. Pride, passion, commitment, all summed up there in that one final act of defensive mastery. Our boys don’t give up or lie down, they simply don’t know how. We go again on Tuesday and will look to get back to winning ways when Kempston Rovers come to Creasey Park for a 7 45 pm kick off. There’s no better remedy for getting over a heavy defeat than to get right back on the park and put things right, and you can bet your bottom dollar that is exactly what Gareth and co will be looking to do. Please get down to Creasey Park and show the lads your support. If you read these reports regularly you will by now be familiar with the concept of Dunstable Town being a Pathway Club. Simple explanation. We are a Members and Supporters run Club with no Sugar Daddy bankrolling us. Without the means to sell stadium naming rights and receive any bar and hot food takings on match days we have to live within very limited means. Your admission money, sale of 50 – 50 tickets and 100 Club membership are a financial lifeline to us as we seek to attract business and corporate sponsorship into the Club, in order to give Gareth a realistic playing budget for next season. Our only viable, and sustainable way of surviving as a semi-professional football club is to attract and develop young players and, if talent and attitude permits, to move them through the Youth Section age groups, to, eventually, the Development Team, so Simon, Colin & Val, will have a ready supply of young men coming through the U 16’s and U 18’s to help further develop in order that they can progress further, hopefully, into the First Team. A conveyor belt of burgeoning talent so to speak. You will therefore be heartened to know that in conversation with Colin Lauder yesterday after the Development Team had beaten much fancied, Bigleswade, themselves unbeaten in over 4 months of competitive football, he rightly praised goalkeeper Ben Lincoln, still only 16, for his part in yesterday’s victory. As he had done so in the previous round away at Cranfield, young Ben made vital saves in the penalty shoot out to help his side progress to the final, to be played on Wednesday April 17thagainst Henlow FC, venue to be announced. Colin stressed how it was the Pathway model which had seen Ben progress through the ranks and establish himself as the Development Team keeper. Witness also, Tyler Dunnell, U 18’s Player / Coach establish himself in the Development Team squad. There will be more to come of that I have no doubt. Yesterday’s match at Biggleswade was a stern test for the Development Team youngsters who trailed at half time by a single goal. A corker of an equaliser from Sam Afolabi took the game to penalties, where Val Qoku, Clayton Lauder and Callum Shortt all converted, and with Ben reproducing the heroics from Cranfield it was enough to see the boys home. Good support from fans and Committee members, who had chosen to watch the semi final ahead of the First Team to demonstrate we practice exactly what we preach. On Tuesday night in the Suburban League, the Development Team had come unstuck against the sprightly Hares from Harefield who left Creasey Park with the 3 points in a 2 – 1 victory. Ben Collins had scored a first half penalty to even things up. It was a harsh scoreline which didn’t reflect the possession or chances created percentages. A final word to our supporters who turned out in good numbers yesterday to cheer the Team on. Thank you for your support and for sticking with us. Some familiar faces we hadn’t seen for some time as well as the die-hard regulars, and some new faces. The scoreline may have gone against us but we’ll be back and hope you’ll all be joining us as we enter the final 13 games of the season. Recent victories against Bromsgrove and Corby, in second and third places respectively, tell you this Team can beat teams higher in the League. It should be an exciting run-in. One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town.