Dunstable Town 2-2 Barton Rovers
Written by Patrick MacKay/Pictures by Liam Smith.
After a summer of preparation, the Creasey Park grounds team have once again provided a magnificent playing surface, one that many players will no doubt relish playing on in the coming season. Today was the first game of the pre-season to be played on the main pitch, with Tony Fontenelle's Barton Rovers visiting.
The opening exchanges saw neither team dominating the other, but Rovers probably had the better of the few chances, putting two close-range efforts over the bar from corners.
After some liquid football through the centre of the park, Dunstable had their first notable effort on goal, a strike from distance, well saved by the Barton keeper, Connor Coulson, returning to Creasey Park for the first time since his stint for the Blues last season. It was only a minute later when Barton broke down the wing, the forward driving into the box before going down, but the referee was well-placed and waved away the protests from the Barton players.
In the run-up to half-time it was the Blues who came closest, with two shots from the edge of the box, one going narrowly wide, and one over the top. However, Barton Rovers had arguably the best chance of the first half, when a through ball split the Dunstable defence, but the striker hesitated, trying to round keeper Mackenzie Taylor, who was able to challenge, and give away a corner, with Barton players calling for a penalty.
The second half quickly gave the game what it needed; a goal. With barely a minute played since the restart, Chris Stapleton received the ball with his back to goal, turned neatly and fired the ball onto the underside of the crossbar and into the goal.
The lead would only last 8 minutes, with Barton equalising in the 54th minute, after a Dunstable clearance hit a Barton attacker in the face and freakishly ended up in the back of the net.
With an hour on the clock, Dunstable had a free-kick in a dangerous area on the right, and a perfectly flighted ball into the box was met flush on the head by new fan-favourite, Chris Stapleton, who's header looked to have given the Blues the lead again. But it wasn't to be, the linesman adjudging Stapleton to be offside, to the bemusement of many.
Barton Rovers looked dangerous down the right, and twice in the second half put dangerous balls across the face of goal, with some spectators left scratching their heads as to how they weren't converted.
It was Barton who took the lead with ten minutes left to play, capitalising on uncertainty in the box to lash a shot in the top corner.
But the Blues kept playing their game, and an entertaining match looked to be going the way of the higher-ranked visitors, until Kelvin Osei-Addo received the ball 25 yards from goal, and showed no hesitation in hitting a dipping shot, which restored parity in the 90th minute.
After an encouraging performance for manager to Gareth Jackson to reflect on, Dunstable Town will look to build further when Leighton Town visit Creasey Park on Thursday 25th July, for a 19:30 kick-off.