Written by Andrew Madaras, Picture by Steve Lewington.
An accomplished and professional performance from promotion challenging Thame Utd was a harsh lesson for our young, and still developing, side that, as with most things in life, as quickly as things can go right, they can also go wrong, equally as quickly and deciphering the cause and then correcting it can be devilishly difficult. So you’ll excuse me if I start with a few words about how much work and preparation goes on behind the scenes with managers, coaches and players, training twice a week at Creasey Park to prepare for a Saturday match. Set pieces, offensive and defensive are rehearsed, game scenarios and passages of play practised, training drills, fitness sessions and time with Seana O’Reily to treat knocks, bumps and strains all take place in the Club’s allotted two and a half hours. In addition there is the on line match analysis, kindly provided by Hudl via the Evo-Stik Southern League, which Gareth and Colin pore over after a match and then send on to players individually and collectively, to help them understand what they are doing well and where they can improve. It’s an absorbing, laborious and time- consuming activity which Gareth & Colin spend hours over in order to try and help the players and the team develop. It’s a labour of love and part of a long term project which each of us has signed up to and is fully committed to. Even at our level one single player can earn in one match what our entire squad earns in a week. With an average age of just over 20 Saturday’s starting X1 will have a few bumps in the road which is only to be expected as they’re still learning and perfecting their craft. On the day credit to Thame for implementing and executing a game plan which had clearly taken into account the defeat at Creasey Park in December and largely kept the Dunstable playmakers contained and the attacking threat quiet. Hassan Sheikh was injured in the pre match warm up and work commitments meant John Sonuga would not be able to be named in the starting X1. Alex Taylor was serving the last of his four match ban and will now be available for selection away at Aylesbury Utd next Saturday. With Nathan Harness’ trial at West Ham Utd being extended for a further three weeks, Connor Coulson continued to claim the number 1 spot. Gareth & Colin gave a debut to Josh Bailey who had caught the eye during training and in the Development Team match recently versus Harefield. Davide Pobbe replaced Hassan Sheikh, and on a beautifully prepared surface, under clear blue skies and a warming sun, the game kicked off with Gedeon Okito captaining the side. Buoyed by a well deserved point against Kempston Rovers on Tuesday night which had seen Kempston stopper James Martin nominated Man of The Match, the 25 or so Dunstable supporters in a slightly below average crowd of 89 were hopeful that the defence would hold firm against the Thame Utd strikers. However hopes were not realised as in the third minute Aaron Jewell rose to head in an accurate free kick and put Thame ahead. Dunstable looked to steady the ship and won two successive corners as they took the game to Thame but fell further behind when a penalty was awarded for a foul in the box. Ben Sturgess stepped up and neatly dispatched it to make the score 2 – 0 after 17 minutes. Saul Williams nearly pulled a goal back for the Blues after a well executed move on 21 minutes but his rising shot cleared the bar and Thame supporters drew a collective sigh of relief. Two minutes later debutant Josh Bailey came off nursing a knock, replaced by John Sonuga. There was some impetus from Dunstable as they looked to break at every opportunity to repel the advancing tide of Thame shirts. Chris Wreh, Saul Williams & Marcus Gouldbourne all tried to impose themselves but found the Thame backline in impenetrable mode. A third goal for Thame a couple of minutes before half time looked to have put the game to bed as Dunstable could have no complaints about the half time score. The second half was pretty much a repeat of the first half with Dunstable, despite their best efforts, collectively struggling against a well organised and competitive opposition. This was, unfortunately, “one of those days” when very little went right, and just about everything that could have gone wrong did. Days like that happen, and the important thing is to stay united and show support and solidarity from top to bottom. Just past the hour mark a wonderful rearguard action orchestrated by Connor Coulson and his defenders somehow kept the ball out as Thame looked certain to add a fourth with the ball bobbling about in and around the 6 yard box but thanks to a couple of magnificent last ditch tackles and saves from Connor, the scoreline wasn’t added to. This seemed to lift the lads and back came Dunstable looking for at least a consolation goal. Craig Hill in the Thame goal needed to be at his best to keep out a Saul Williams drive. Erin Amu & James Lauder constantly striving to break up play and get the ball forward in the middle of the park got precious little change from the opposition despite being in the thick of the action. Ehban Nancarrow-Martin replaced the battling Davide Pobbe with a quarter hour still to play. The third set piece goal of the day arrived this time from a 79th minute corner headed in at the back post by Aaron Jewell for his second of the day. Jonathan Osae came on for James Lauder and was straight into the fray but a fifth and final goal arrived with a minute left on the clock when Daniel West finished at the far post to complete the scoring. I wrote after the battling and convincing win at Corby that when we win, we win with sportsmanlike behaviour and respect for our opponents. When we lose, we look at ourselves and reflect on our decisions and our own performances. We don’t blame officials, we don’t blame playing surfaces, the weather or accuse the opposition of cheating. This was evident yesterday as players and coaches alike looked to learn from the performance. When we win, we celebrate with each other, when we lose we support and console each other and lift each other’s spirits. We’re all in this together and by our own individual and collective efforts we will get stronger and succeed. Of that I have no doubt at all. There are far too many good people at this Club, on the pitch, in the dug outs and off the pitch to be anything but competitive, honest, hard working and successful. Nobody let anybody down yesterday. On the day we were second best to a very good Thame side. Everybody tried, everybody put in a shift and everybody gave a damn. You simply can do no more than that, ever. Our shirts, our badge, our players out there doing their level best. Win, lose or draw we remain united, strong and resilient and look to go again next Saturday away at Aylesbury Utd. A word of thanks to our hosts at Thame Utd who looked after us all superbly. Their trip to Creasey Park in early December showed sportsmanship in defeat on and off the field and barely a murmur of complaint when the Creasey Park plumbing went awol and left the Thame players negotiating cold showers. On Saturday they were gracious in victory and friendly and respectful off the pitch. Volunteer Groundsman “Geordie” producing one of the best surfaces we’ve seen all season. Our good wishes for the remainder of the season to Thame Utd.
Dunstable Town: 1.Connor Coulson. 2.Joe Mead. 3.Gedeon Okito(C) 4.Davide Pobbe. 5.Daniel Trif. 6.Joshua Bailey. 7.James Lauder. 8.Erin Amu. 9.Chris wreh. 10.Marcus Gouldbourne. 11.Saul Williams. Subs-12. John Sonuga (for Bailey 23mins)15.Ebhan Nancarrow-martin (For Pobbe 74mins) 16.Jonathan Osae (For Lauder 85mins) 17.Marius Patru (unused). Att 89.
Congratulations to the Development side who have now won their way through to the Semi Finals of the Suburban Challenge Plate versus Abbey Rangers on March 9th. On Saturday a depleted side had a thrilling win away at Flackwell Heath with a two nil victory away masterminded by Val Qoku on the field and a brand new “and for one day only” triumvirate of Nikki Lauder, Gareth Shortt & Samir in the dug out. Even more notable was a fine goalkeeping display from Mark Reilly who was in between the sticks replacing Ben Lincoln who was injured in the warm up. Goals from Clayton Lauder and Cam Wynard being the all important deciders which now means that the Development Team are in a County Final and a League semi-final, which is a wonderful achievement and bodes well for the future. The Development Team will be home on Thursday evening, 28th February 2019, to Tring Town in the Suburban Challenge Shield. It’s a 7 45 pm kick off with admission prices £5, free for U 18’s. A final reminder that next Saturday the First team are away at Aylesbury Utd, who ground share with Chesham Utd (The Meadow, Amy Lane, HP5 1NE) Facilities are top notch and some of the best in this League so please come and support the lads on both Thursday & Saturday. One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town.