Written by Andrew Madaras Pictures by Chris White.
Up until the 67th minute this game had little in it, both sides evenly matched, aware of the importance of the outcome, sparred nervously with each other, with neither goalkeeper severely tested. All that changed though as a shot from Lewis Coyle heading harmlessly out for a goal kick was deflected past Connor Coulson by Anaclet Odhiambo to put the men in green ahead. Suspicions of offside ? Dunstable Community Radio Commentator George Knight, from the vantage point of overlooking the stand, thought so, the Dunstable players asked referee, Andrew Humphries and his Assistant, Corey Snuggs, but his flag stayed down and the goal stood. I cursed the black cats of Dunstable. On the sidelines, Manager, Gareth Jackson and Coach Colin Lauder urged the players on to respond with pride, passion, belief and desire. Play for the badge, for the 123 paying customers urging you with every fibre and sinew to grab an equaliser and then get another to win the game and put an end to this wretched run of form that has dragged the Club into a relegation dog fight. But credit to Kidlington, superbly marshalled by goalkeeper and captain, Sam Warrell, who exploited the space and gaps left by the advancing blue shirts to add another two goals, the best of the bunch being a perfectly executed shot from defender Josh Tooke on 90 minutes. The day had started with the sad news of the death of Leverstock Green Chairman & Secretary, Graham Smart, on Friday evening, returning from Wembley, having watched the national side. 48 hours earlier he’d been at Tring watching LGFC in a league match. Graham was a proper football man, a really decent, kind hearted gentleman, who always had time for anyone and everyone. Both myself and former Dunstable Town Secretary, turned Programme Editor, Richard Scott, bear testimony to the generosity and kindness of Graham who helped us both in our formative years of being Club Secretary. The minute’s silence for Graham held before kick off was impeccably observed by the crowd and the game kicked off a couple of minutes late accordingly. Playing in the number 2 shirt for Dunstable was Burton Albion loanee, Charlie Oddy, who despite only putting pen to paper less than 36 hours earlier was soon being welcomed to the world of semi pro football at step 4 of the pyramid by a couple of crunching tackles. However Charlie stood tall and made an impressive debut. Our thanks to Burton Albion for facilitating Charlie’s stay with us until the end of the season. John Sonuga, Captain & Leader of men, was able to start and had a commanding and impressive game. Charlie Black led the line up front and relished the chance to get 90 minutes under his belt. Charlie was a whisker away from getting on the end of a teasing cross from Marius Patru on the hour mark. With Chris Wreh injured, and both Ethan Lamptey and Hassan Sheikh being nursed back gently into the fray on the comeback from injury, the absence also of Saul Williams and Gedeon Okito serving the last of their 3 match suspension, Gareth & Colin put out the strongest team available to them with strict instructions and a game plan to follow and execute. It’s a football saying as old as the hills, but however well prepared and well drilled players are pre-match, individually and collectively, once they cross the white line at 3 pm a manager can only stand and watch and hope that his instructions are followed and his players aren’t sucker punched into falling into the many traps his opposition are going to lay for them. Game management is a skill that of course comes with coaching, but also with age and experience. This season our financial position has necessitated the focus on bringing forward young players in the hope that they can compete with older and more seasoned players, wise to the art of game management and stopping the opposition from playing their style of play. Yesterday’s Dunstable Town starting X1 contained four teenagers and only three players over the age of 24. They are still a young team and learning their craft, but while allowances can be made for their age, the urgency and necessity to stick to the game plan and not drift away into complacency becomes more pressing every game. The first half was an even affair fought mostly in midfield with the two defences foiling the attacking intentions of the other team. Daniel Trif’s work rate yesterday was immense with barely a blade of grass not covered. Alex Taylor probed and ran with the ball at his feet looking to conjure up an opening for Davide Pobbe, Charlie Black or the ever industrious Erin Amu to exploit. Joe Mead & John Sonuga kept a close rein on events, while Marius Patru’s execution of dead balls always looked as though they may give Dunstable the edge. In midfield, James Lauder plugged away looking to repeat his scoring feat of seven days ago. Whatever words Gareth and Colin had uttered at half time seemed to galvanise the Blues as they set about on the offensive with Alex Taylor so nearly putting Charlie Black through on goal. This ten minute period was probably Dunstable’s best period of the game, however as hard as they tried they could not get an advantage and on 55 minutes Kidlington made two changes which largely turned the match in their favour. While substitute Darius Browne scored the game clinching goal in the 80th minute as Blue shirts poured forward looking for an elusive equaliser the introduction of fellow substitute Elliott Osbourne-Ricketts had more of a decisive influence giving his team a definite edge for the final third. New boy Folabo “Folly” Agunbiade, a midweek signing from Buckingham Athletic, replaced Davide Pobbe on the hour mark. Folly had impressed at training on Monday and signed for the Club having played in the second half of the Development Team’s home win on Thursday night. A few minutes later Hassan Sheikh replaced James Lauder, but before either could stamp their authority on the game, up stepped Anaclet Odhiambo to give Kidlington the all important goal. He may be 33 years old, but he still has the legs of a man some years younger. A Southampton team mate of both Theo Walcott & Dexter Blackstock in his early playing career, he has had a distinguished league career at Oxford Utd, Stevenage & Newport County with over 130 professional league games under his belt, and how his experience yesterday helped his team grow in confidence once the first goal had been scored. Dunstable’s best effort in the last 20 minutes fell to Marius Patru who couldn’t quite get the swerve on the ball he needed to beat Kidlington keeper Sam Warrell. Ten minutes later and the game was up for Dunstable as Darius Browne shot home to make it 2 – 0 with a fine individual goal. The save of the afternoon came five minutes before referee Humphries blew for full time when Connor Coulson’s star rose further with a wonderful save as Kidlington looked to deliver the final knock out punch. Connor made several important saves yesterday and really does appear a very shrewd acquisition by the gaffer. A fine goal from defender Josh Tooke ensured the points travelled back to Oxfordshire and in so doing pulled Kidlington out of the relegation drop zone. With four wins from their last six games they have found their form at exactly the right time of the season. Sharp eyed Dunstable fans may have noticed that the Kidlington team contained only two of the starting X1 that had faced the Blues at Yarnton Rd in September, Sam Warrell & Tom Franklin being the two loyal servants of the Club. We dust ourselves down and get on with preparations for next Saturday away at Barton Rovers. We stand side by side with our Managers & Coaches & with our players. We look to strengthen the squad ahead of the Southern League’s registration deadline on Thursday 29th March. We push forward with securing the future of the Club beyond this season and next season but for many more seasons to come. We will fight tooth and nail to secure step 4 football for another season and look forward next week to the return of experienced players, Gedeon Okito, Saul Williams and Chris Wreh. Their experience is likely to prove to be pivotal for the last six games of the season. On Thursday Colin Lauder & Val Qoku saw their highly entertaining Development Team triumph in a six goal thriller at Creasey Park against AFC Hayes, with the goals coming from Kamran Khan, Darnell Muir-Martindale, Bay Fasida & an own goal. You have another chance to see the young Blues again this Wednesday 28th March when they entertain Westfield in a Suburban League fixture, kick off 7 45 pm. Admission is £5. Please come and support these young men in what is always an enthralling fixture against the men from Woking. After the away fixture at Sharpenhoe Road on Saturday, Dunstable have two consecutive fixtures at home, Bedford Town are the visitors on the 6th April and are followed a week later by Yaxley on the 13th April. We need your voices and we need your support. Be there. One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town.