LANGUID AGAINST LANGLEY
Debut for Nathan Olukanmi
THE EVO-STIK SOUTHERN LEAGUE – PREMIER DIVISION – 10 Jan. 17
DUNSTABLE TOWN 1 KINGS LANGLEY 2 HT 1-1 ATTENDANCE 125
LANGUID AGAINST LANGLEY
This was a curious game. It began sprightly running with Dunstable in a dominant, confident mood, seemingly eager to demonstrate that their resurgent form against Chesham in a second half where they deserved parity at least, was no fluke. Unsurprisingly they took the lead against what was a somewhat meek opposing team, who then snatched a goal back just before half-time. Such was Dunstable’s pressure it had Langley officials inquiring ‘where did we go right?’
For Dunstable’s part they had the unspoken comment of where did we go wrong? And they did, puffing and panting against a vitally improved Kings Langley who took the lead and could well have added to it. Their enterprising play in the second period brought reward, but I cannot avoid the comment that Dunstable helped them on the way with unforced errors and sheer diffidence in front of goal.
I recall the game at Kings Langley, where Dunstable scored a first half penalty and spent most of the remaining part of the game defending deep and hanging on for victory. The Hertfordshire side have surprised a number of teams and have already achieved their central aim – that of consolidation in this highly competitive division where a positive result can never be guaranteed.
Some home spectators were asking me before the game ‘who have we signed this week then? Well, the answer to that was Nathan Olukanmi, signed from Leamington, but domiciled in St Albans. He made his debut as a substitute in the inauspicious second half, which also saw the return from injury of Alex Cathline. There is no doubt that the home management team are trying hard to remedy the continuing loss of form and the debilitating crop of injuries. But tonight, to quote Johnny Cash, the team fell apart one piece at a time which was almost criminally frustrating.
Amid that frustration we can draw some positives – and that is Kelvin Bossman in what I still call the inside –right position. His manifest ability to break free on a run, persist in possession and put in telling crosses was pleasing. It would have been even more pleasing if someone tellingly got on the end of them though. This game was rescheduled from a frozen late November and the same referee was allocated. This gentleman was the object of Regimental wrath for decisions these fastidious fans perceived as ill-judged. But methinks they did protest too much, as it was not his fault that the Dunstable marksmen were so wide of their target.
The spanking pace set by Dunstable was such we were eager to forgive a Talbot free-kick that skidded off a few distant vehicles in the car park. Apart from Ryan Plowright’s almost apologetic shot, the early period was played in the Langley half. Their goal-keeper, Xavi Comas looked as nervous as he did at their place and his kicking did little to inspire confidence. It seemed a reasonable tactic to test his confidence with a barrage of shots, but the fellow seemed to improve as the game went on and, as such was never severely challenged.
Zack Reynolds tried a lob which was enterprising but it nestled on the roof of the net, then a better Talbot free-kick permitted a Shane Bush header that was saved. Comas also punched away an in swinging corner and it seemed that very soon a settling goal would be picked from the net and Dunstable would be on their way to the real boost of an emphatic home win – to erase the feeling of relief felt at the decidedly nervous single goal win over a spirited St Neots.
Dunstable took the lead right on the half-hour mark, with Talbot‘s strike bouncing off the cross bar and the keeper’s knee before David Longe-King completed the move. It seemed ample reward for the pressure exerted hitherto. It was, I thought, a goal that would settle the side and, with their tails up, they would add to the lead both on this and the second period. After all, Kings Langley were decidedly second best at this stage and looked it. Comments I heard had a qualifying subordinate clause – ‘we are all over them – I can’t believe it’. It seemed we were celebrating a rarity and I heard a disgruntled voice say ‘ now watch us mess it up’, (except I use the word ‘mess’ as a substitution for the actual word used, but I write for a family readership).
Such cynicism is understandable given the team’s predilection for self-harm in recent matches. But there was little evidence of this until a statuesque home defence allowed Steve Ward to weave his way through unchallenged to score what was a notable equaliser three minutes before half-time. It was notable for its audacity from a player who had so far had an undistinguished game – so much so that I heard one or two visiting officials opine that the fellow ought to have been substituted.
Leading up to this aberration from Dunstable were a series of chances that sorely tested the visiting defence with Bossman outstanding and Reynolds looking as if he would get through on his own, occasionally. Corners were won, with the keeper doing well and the defence scrambling the ball away. Then came Balogun’s blocked shot, deflected for a corner and from this Langley picked up on the partial clearance and then came Ward’s enterprising run that brought an unexpected parity.
It may well have been undeserved, given the flow of play but they all count. It is often said that to score a goal before the interval has a positive psychological effect. This may well be so but it seemed to have a dramatic effect on both teams. From that moment the initiative changed hands, or rather feet, and Dunstable descended into an inexplicable hesitancy that was error strewn, and even the introduction of Cathline and Olukanmi did little to improve matters.
My emphasis on Dunstable’s first-half superiority was supported by the visiting officials who were plainly astonished that their team had found a way back after playing so poorly so far. I took the view that in conceding a goal, this would add extra venom to the Dunstable attack and the Hertfordshire side would be punished for their little bit of audacity. I could not have been more incorrect. Adding salt to the wounds I can add that Kings did not play particularly well, but they were good enough and much better than Dunstable. Indeed I do not overlook Jack Smith making two crucial saves, as well as noting that most shots on and off target came from the visitors who plainly galloped into counter attacks with an energy that stretched the Dunstable defence.
Possession may be nine tenths of the law but if you relinquish it you must live with the consequences. Gedeon Okita had his skills tested in two moves where he alone seemed to prevent a cross. Talbot’s effort from range was one of few attempts on the Langley goal that bore any significance. A chance for Bush brought a corner but this was cleared and not for the first time Immanuelson Diku found time and space to advance on goal, with colleagues straining to keep up and await the pass.
From open play things did not seem too bad, but the second goal came after a free-kick on the left and Jorrell Johnson’s timely header gave the visitors the lead that they never seemed like relinquishing.
It was not for lack of effort as Dunstable had plenty of ideas that begged for suitable completion, yet spoiled by a pass that was too short or an anticipatory challenge. Some of the home contingent were fulminating over the non-award of at least two penalties, one of which just might have been given – but really, this was clutching at straws, and in any case, appeals from home players were negligible.
Duka blasted both a header and a shot wide, and he might feel he could have done better. Bossman’s neat pass across the box, after artful work saw no-one there to connect meaningfully. The same player headed over the bar from a corner. Dunstable won several corners but these came to nothing and Ward’s cross drew a fine save from Jack Smith, who also denied a good effort from Emmanuel Folarin. Duka again shot wide and his next effort was deflected for a corner. A good cross from Reynolds was amply defended and both substitutes , Vences Bola and Olukanmi laboured in vain.
Sporadic late efforts from Dunstable were tinged with inaccuracies indicative of a team that knows it has lost its way – and knows why, yet can, at present do little about it. In the St Neots game they had taken the lead and plainly struggled (albeit successfully) to hold onto it. In this game they had gone from being masters to slaves in an act of bizarre generosity to their opponents. The way they played in the first half offers no explanation of why they capitulated so dramatically. They played such good stuff early on and looked as if they might get a handsome lead which they could defend at their leisure.
The clinical finish was largely absent, as it has been in recent games, and that fighting spirit that marked the second half against Chesham was greatly diminished, and full advantage was taken by their opponents who fulsomely welcomed the perhaps unexpected bonus of maximum points.
It was, no doubt, a chastening experience for players and manager alike and if, from this the attitude and preparation of the forthcoming visit of Kettering Town on Saturday is revamped, then all is not lost. The league programme continues to be one of severe demand, since fixtures on the horizon include away visits to teams that have already triumphed at Creasey Park this term.
One encouraging aspect is that Jack Hutchinson and Josh Oyinsan will be competing fort a start with the former now fit and the latter having served his three game suspension. Another positive is the deep commitment of the managerial partnership of Tony Fontenelle and Danny Talbot who will conduct a stern training session on Thursday and make it clear about what they will expect from their colleagues, who in turn will no doubt accept the shortcomings of tonight and seek to improve.
The fact that it is Kettering Town, a team they have already had good results against at home in recent seasons, and, of course they defeated the Northamptonshire side at Latimer Park in the famous three penalties game earlier. The Poppies will no doubt be seeking revenge and with their numerous travelling supporters, it should make for a cracking game of football, which in essence we all want, regardless of our loyalties.
Let us temporarily replace our motto with another Latin phrase. Resurgam – I will arise.
Jack Smith, Zack Reynolds, this reporter’s DTFC star man. Gedeon Okita, Danny Talbot, Jack Lampe, Adam Pepera, captain, Kelvin Bossman, (Vences Bola), Danny Green, Shane Bush, David Longe-King, GOAL, 30 minutes, (Alex Cathline), Jack Green, (Nathan Olukanmi), other substitutes- Adam Moussi, Sam Baffour.
Xavi Comas, Jack Pattison, Lewis Rodriguez, (Lewis Toomey), Emmanuel Folarin, Jorrell Johnson, GOAL, 65 minutes, Dean Hitchcock, cautioned, Steve Ward, GOAL, 42 minutes, Ryan Plowright,(Ollie Cox), Immenuelson Duku, David Hutton, Mayo Balogun; other substitutes – Gary Connolly, Ollie Cole and James Verney.
Referee – Daniel Simpson, assisted by Nathan Briggs and Fernando Costache.