Dunstable Town left The Recreation Ground frustrated with coming away with only a point following a battling & gutsy and performance which had many positives but also, disappointingly, a loss of discipline which saw red cards for Joe Hankins & Georgeito Mulonda both of whom had been so influential in the game. With Dunstable looking comfortable and playing the better football the descent of the red mist cost us dear.
Colney Heath are a well-oiled machine who had looked odds on for promotion last season until the Pandemic enveloped us all. This season they’ve got off to a storming start sitting on top of the table with four wins out of four.
Gareth Jackson changed things around and was rewarded with a much more cohesive performance, which repaid his faith in a system which gave Dan Gould and the defence better protection and the creative players more opportunity to express themselves and influence the game.
Dunstable went a goal up on 15 minutes when Leo Pedro seized on a sublime through ball, beat the off-side trap and placed it clinically past Evans in the Colney Heath goal.
In truth this was a fair reflection on the game with Gregg Douglas towering above the home defence to power a header from a corner just past the post three minutes before Pedros’ goal.
Moments later Chris Stapleton was on the end of a smart move involving Joe Hankins and Leo Pedro but was tackled just when you expected the ball to fly into the net.
On 22 minutes Leo Pedro produced a great cross-field pass to put Adam Sawyer through only for Adam to earn a free kick for his efforts which gave Chris Stapleton a chance to test Evans handling skills.
Colney Heath were clearly not at their best, and the lack of any updates on the first half on their Twitter feed, other than Pedro’s goal gives as good a guide as any as to the balance of play in the first 45 minutes. The Dunstable defence coped well with the attacking forays of the Colney Heath frontmen. Gregg Douglas, the Dunstable Man of The Match, and Joseph Debayo had developed a good understanding and with Louis Octave and Adam Sawyer coming down the flanks, Roy Byron and Georgeito Mulonda broke up sporadic attacks before the forwards could advance into the danger areas.
In goal, Dan Gould had an excellent game and his saves at the end of the game made sure Dunstable left with a point.
Dunstable pressed forward as the half wore on to secure a second goal to take into the half-time break. New-boy Temi Oladejo looks odds on to become a fans favourite and both he and Joe Hankins were narrowly wide before the interval.
Three minutes after the break Chris Stapleton looked as if he’d sprung the offside trap only to be denied by the offside flag when one on one with the keeper.
There then came the defining moment of what had been a competitive but not a dirty game. Ten minutes into the half an off the ball incident sparked an on-field brawl which ended with referee Douglas Lawson brandishing red cards for Heath’s Will McClelland and Dunstable’s Joe Hankins & Georgeito Mulonda. One or two others can probably thank their lucky stars that they escaped the same punishment.
With an extra man as an advantage Colney Heath came more into the game and pushed forward. Former Development Team man L’Kharmi Gale came on to make his debut in place of Temi Oladejo who again had impressed in a Blue shirt. L’Kharmi has played for the County at Under 18 level in the same side as Dylan Fitzpatrick who looked on from the stands to show his support for his team-mates. Dylan still has several weeks more in plaster and has the good wishes of everyone associated with the Club.
L’Kharmi didn’t look out of place on his debut & looks a fine prospect, doing well for the half hour he was on the pitch.
Dunstable so nearly got the two goal cushion they deserved in the 66th minute as Leo Pedro again broke free and cut in from the right hand side before unleashing a terrific shot which was met with an equally fantastic save by Evans.
Former Blue, Harry Shepherd came off the subs bench and immediately Colney Heath looked sharper and more dangerous. Shepherd got the equaliser on 72 minutes finishing off a move he had started. With respect he chose not to celebrate his goal and showed good sportsmanship. It was a blow to the men in blue and you couldn’t help wonder whether had there been eleven men on the pitch one point could have been three. You have to feel for Gareth, Ryan & Ivan. This is the second time in three League matches that red cards have taken us from winning positions to draws. Six points instead of two would put us into 13th place instead of 19th.
Groundhog Day, Déjà vu, History repeating itself. The self-destruct button is pressed and games which appear to be well managed and controlled change course after the red cards. Points are thrown away and what should be notable and creditable wins simply show up as draws. For a side and a Club with aspirations to challenge at the top this has to be addressed.
Dan Trif replaced Joseph Debayo and Davide Pobbe replaced Roy Byron as Dunstable looked to stay tight at the back. There were a few anxious moments and Dan Gould pulled off a couple of vital saves as Colney Heath finished strongly.
All square then at the final whistle and a performance which saw a welcome return to form with strong individual performances all over the park and some fine flowing football to admire.
Gregg Douglas was voted Blues Man of the Match and will receive his Players Pack award before our next match on Saturday 10th October when we take on Aylesbury Vale Dynamos at Creasey Park, kick off 3pm.
A timely reminder that Saturday is World Mental Health Day and the Club will be looking to mark the occasion as always with shirts supporting the valuable work of our friends at Mind BLMK. This will be the third consecutive season that the Club has demonstrated their commitment to promote good mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental ill-health.