DUNN DOES FOR DUNSTABLE
OYINSAN SEES RED
THE EVO-STIK SOUTHERN LEAGUE – PREMIER DIVISION 04 Feb. 17
SLOUGH TOWN 1 DUNSTABLE TOWN 0 HT 0-0 ATTENDANCE 503
DUNN DOES FOR DUNSTABLE
This was Dunstable Town’s first ever visit to Arbour Park and it would seem that Slough town council were possessed of greater vision and funds than those of South Bedfordshire who designed the revamped Creasey Park that pales into insignificance against this fine, purpose- built stadium. It is clear that the designers listened to those who have had extensive experience of non-league football, and did not knock out a Community Centre that permits football to be played.
On arrival, I liked the space-age design of the stand’s exterior. The seating has yet to be completed and about 200 more parking spaces are also due (and are much needed). The extensive glass of the stand’s front will give a fine, uncluttered view and will also house the board room. The artificial pitch ought to assist in the earning of revenue as well.
I was greeted by the friendly committee and noticed with pleasure their pride in the new home, after eighteen nomadic years. There was a good attendance too, and no-one was aware of the quiet switch of kits before the game. The referee, Tim Donellan, with one eye on the Observer/Assessor had a sharp intake of breath and a wavering hand at the marked similarity of Slough Blue and Dunstable Black . (Keep up at the back, there). It would not do he said. Replace your socks with ones of a differing colour to Slough Blue was the instruction.
It was intended to use the Dunstable away kit but after some wincing moans from Tony Fontenelle, who had laid out the away colours with a neatness that would make his mum and wife proud, he had to do it all again and put out the home kit with the non-clashing lighter blue. Once I had sorted it out I still went to the terraces with the worrying thought that it was all my fault. Perhaps I was too sensitive about the reserve manager barking at me as if it were my fault that his game at Northwood was called off owing to a waterlogged pitch.
Danny Talbot, Dunstable player and assistant manager could not make this game, so I was the next in line for managerial moans. We had absence notes for the kit man and physio as well, which meant that Mr Fontenelle had to wield the magic sponge. As well as that Slough had walloped the then league leaders, Leamington 6-0 away from home last week.
But, as someone said from Slough, ‘we went 0-5 down at half-time to King’s Lynn in the week’. Funny old game football as Jimmy Greaves once said for want of a more profound observation. That, I thought, was a lot of goals, (thirteen in two games) when Dunstable could not buy one lately – the single strike by a defender giving them victory over a demoralised Redditch United.
With Slough pushing for a play-off position at the very least and Dunstable goal –shy, I thought my positioning myself at the visitors’ attacking end somewhat optimistic, and there were about ten other such optimists, who, by the way had a conspiriacy theory that as the referee was domiciled but a few miles from Creasey Park he would refrain from looking favourably on Dunstable appeals for decisions. He did send a man off from either team and thereby hangs a tail or tale.
Let me tell you now, this game was no thriller with goal attempts in the first half being something of a rarity. Indeed we opened with a rash shot wide from Manny Williams, who looked at his shooting boot afterwards as if it had acted independently and indeed mutinously. A quick move from Nathan Olukanmi and Shane Bush brought a corner for the visitors that was sent straight into the safe arms of Mark Scott, clad all in orange and looking as if he had been ‘Tangoed’ before the kick-off. It is a pity he did not have that much work to do, as it might have kept his mind off the withering comments of the critical Regimentals, still muttering about the lack of parking spaces.
By way of contrast, a Slough corner was rather awkwardly defended by Dunstable, but as the half wore on they played with remarkable composure. I do not include Bush’s lob that cleared the bar by an Olympic measurement, but,, as if to make up for this his next effort was a shot deflected for a corner. A free-kick from the visitors was aimed at Brad Hewitt but Mark Scott plucked it from his head, so to speak. Hewitt, apparently, had a spell with the Rebels, according to a home supporter, adding that he would prove to be a good signing. Josh Oyinsan was beginning to impose his tall presence on the game, before in a remarkable delay in the second half he received his second straight red card in only his fourth appearance for Dunstable – an unenviable record. His Rebel antagonist was also sent off as he received a second yellow card.
The Rebels seemed to enjoy stroking the ball around their lush new astro-turf, but their passing in the first half suggested they were still getting the measure of the artificial pitch, but they improved in the second period, especially after they had scored. The closest we got to a goal came from a searching cross from the left headed by, I think, Manny Williams, but Jack Smith pulled off one of the handful of notable saves he made in the game. This header brought a corner, then another, both defended adequately by Dunstable, who showed a pleasing keenness to get the ball forward.
Notable was the overlapping play of Slough full-backs, Sean Fraser and Paul Stonehouse, which Dunstable’s Zack Reynolds and Gedeon Okita tried to emulate. The visitors caused some degree of consternation in the home goalmouth by having three goal attempts blocked and then had the bonus of a free-kick once the melee had subsided. Vences Bola, artful to a degree had a shot deflected but not enough to deceive Scott. Reynolds then combined with Okita in a thrusting move that was spoiled by Lee Togwell. Smith saved a home header with comfort and the half ended with a bit of an attacking flurry from Dunstable that was suggestive if not conclusive.
This flurry was a little interrupted by a Dunstable supporter who was reporting the spacious cleanliness of the lavatories by the side of the stand, which I decided to see for myself, forgetting to collect my man bag with all my secretarial accoutrements as well as the banned pipe and tobacco. I retrieved it at the start of the second half, explaining to bemused home fans that I was not a kleptomaniac but rather a ‘mania-kleptomac’ as I tended to go around leaving things everywhere. I even forgot to trot out my line to supporters’ organiser and Ipswich Town fan Ian that Arbour Park was a bit like Portman Road. I will have to tell him one day that I have never been to Portman Road, but a running gag does give continuity at times.
In the board room we were all very polite with no-one saying outright that the game had been a tad disappointing so far. I was so much at a loss that I entered the non-sequitur that our photographer was wearing his astro boots. It would have been heresy in that neutral environment to ask just how Slough had scored six at Leamington as they had not come near notching a goal or three against the still ponderous Dunstable. Someone mentioned that the Dunstable manager was a trifle vociferous. I had to explain that the poor chap had washed the kit, put it out twice, had no assistant or staff on the day, save myself, and that he found me to be a bit trying at the best of times. Little did I know that he would face the worry of having striker Oyinsan about to have an enforced rest for three games owing to a retaliatory elbow.
But my private thoughts were that Dunstable had done well in that first half. The word I used was composure and it was just that. Defending had been initially awkward but confidence had grown. They had willing runners, crosses had gone in, admittedly mostly unconnected but they had penetrated and deserved to be at least level. Shane Bush and Vences Bola had shown flashes of character and inspiration, but that deadly accuracy in front of goal was still largely absent as the lack of goals has proved. For Slough, Togwell and Dunn had been notable, but overall the game had that deadly pallor of a nil-nil draw, which just might have been the conclusion, however unsatisfactory that is from an aesthetic point of view.
Slough commenced proceedings eagerly and forced a corner and after its clearance Okita went on a bit of a run and was fouled by Nathan Smart, who received the first of his two cautions. A Dunstable free-kick looked the business and a smart glancing header from Shane Bush went wide. The Rebels were playing more objectively and seven minutes into the half they nicked the only goal of the game, which took two efforts. Smith had beaten away the first shot but Simon Dunn finished the move produced inordinate celebrations from a goal that was more scrambled than executed cleanly.
It was a bit of hard luck on the visitors who had held the fort hitherto and then they had to face a more visibly relaxed home side who once again stroked the ball around in impudent style. A fine cross proved too much for the incoming Bush, and smith had to get down low to cut out a cross. Reynolds did well to get another one in but again no-one could capitalise on it – yet bush did have another one on target but not firm enough to test Scott.
In one Slough attack there was the game’s major incident and it caused considerable delay. The referee had awarded a free kick to the Rebels, outside the penalty area, but before he permitted this to be taken, he felt it incumbent to consult not just one but both linesmen – a kind of collegiate approach. I placed myself in a prominent position in case he wished to have a little chat with me, which would have been no good as I did not see the offending Oyinsan elbow. With the Slough fans singing ‘cheerio, cheerio, cheerio’, I was still mystified – were they leaving early being fed up? But of course they anticipated Oyinsan’s enforced early shower. The Regiment muttered darkly that it was the opposing fans who had influenced the referee. But there was confusion as to who saw what and when. Only on the second consultation did Mr Donnellan wield the red card to Oyinsan and, sensibly, his manager encroached onto the field of play to usher his player away from the scene. In recent games against Slough, there have been a number of dismissals but the games have never been what you would call ‘dirty’.
At this time too, Smart had belied his name and received his second yellow so it was ten versus ten. Bossman came on for Bola in one substitution, but I must confess it did seem highly unlikely that Dunstable would score. Bossman received a caution to add to Pepera’s in the first half. Dunn hit the side-netting in one foray and in a double strike Smith parried a shot and Okita cleared the second close to the goal line. Hewitt and Reynolds combined again but no clear shot on goal was the result, and the effort deflected harmlessly to Scott.
So the game ended more with a whimper than a bang from a Dunstable point of view – but overall they had played reasonably well – yet still leaving the question where is the ‘natural’ goal scorer – the opportunist, the conjurer? Thus Slough consolidate their challenge for top placings and Dunstable slip a little more.
They face Stratford Town at home on Saturday 11 February, but before then comes the Bedfordshire Senior Cup tie against local Football League side Luton Town who are doing their best to leave the old Fourth Division for the heady heights of the Third. That game has been rescheduled for Thursday 9 February.
Mark Scott, Sean Fraser, captain, Paul Stonehouse, Nathan Smart, dismissed after receiving two yellow cards, Mark Nisbet, Lee Togwell, Slough star man, Manny Williams, Simon Dunn, GOAL, 52 minutes, Gavin James, (Dan Hicks), Chris Flood, Nathan Webb (James Dobson, cautioned). Other substitutes- Warren Harris, Charlie Moore and Ashan Holgate.
Jack Smith, Dunstable star man, Zack Reynolds, Gedeon Okita, Danny Green, (David Longe-King), Brad Hewitt, Adam Pepera, cautioned, Nathan Olukanmi, Shane Bush, Josh Oyinsan, dismissed, straight red card, Vences Bola, (Kelvin Bossman). Other substitutes – Sam Baffour and Jordan Odofin.
Referee- Tim Donellan, assisted by Neil Fyfield, and Keith Kennett.