Dunstable Town 3-5 Bishop's Stortford
7th September 2019
Written by Patrick MacKay and Pictures taken by Chris White.
Despite a storming second half, Dunstable Town's FA Cup run was ended by Bishop's Stortford, of the Isthmian League Premier Division.
Underdogs from the beginning, Dunstable started confidently, playing neat football and showing they would not be cowed by their higher-ranked opposition. But with twelve minutes played, a defensive mix-up allowed Jamie Cureton a one-on-one with Mackenzie Taylor, and with over a thousand games to his name, it's safe to say Cureton knows how to score a goal. One-nil to the visitors.
Bishop's Stortford naturally tried to extend their lead from there, but the Blues stayed focused despite going behind, and still looked like they could get back into the game. The visitors' quality would always be dangerous though, and the imposing figure of Shamari Barnwell showed his skills with an incisive run into the box and a fizzing shot across the face of goal, which just missed the target.
Ryan Charles doubled the lead for Bishop's Stortford on twenty-three minutes, when a corner was headed back across goal and then headed past Taylor by Charles. Again though, Dunstable Town's heads were not bowed, and they were keen to find a way back into the game.
Just after the half-hour mark, some precise skill from Luke Little on the left wing saw him bundled over, giving the Blues a free-kick in a dangerous position. A deep free-kick from Dan Blackman was met at the back-post by Chris Stapleton, whose header was well saved by former Blue Fred Burbidge in the Stortford goal.
Bishop's Stortford added a third and fourth in the five minutes prior to half-time, with Barnwell winning and converting a penalty, before linking up well to set up Cureton for his second of the game.
Eight minutes into the second period, it was Ryan Charles on the scoresheet again for the visitors, with an impressive strike from distance, and it looked like it could be a long afternoon for the home team.
But just two minutes later, Dunstable's grit and determination paid dividends, with Chris Stapleton heading against the bar moments before the ball was cut back to Joe Zunguzah, who poked home for the Blues.
This was a busy period in the game, and unfortunately not all of it was positive, with Kai McArthur being stretchered off with a bad injury.
Minutes later, with twenty-five left to play, the deficit was reduced further, with Luke Little latching onto a perfect through ball from Jack Harvey before slotting past Burbidge.
The intensity of the game, and more notably the atmosphere in the stadium, was stunted after McArthur's injury, but Dunstable Town kept chipping away, and the atmosphere was restored when Davide Pobbe got Dunstable's third of the afternoon with seven minutes left to play. After some pinball in the box, Pobbe slotted into the bottom corner, much to the delight of the majority of the 221-strong crowd.
Dunstable kept pushing, but Bishop's Stortford slowed the game down wherever possible, and saw the game to its conclusion in a professional and effective manner.