Town beaten at Creasey Park.
The Hatters were beaten by Dunstable Town in a well contested clash at Creasey Park. Matt Robinson captained the side which included summer signings Elliot Justham and Jim Stevenson. Also in Town blue for the clash was former Rangers and West Ham front man Moses Ashikodi who partnered Zane Banton and Jake Woolley in a three-pronged attack for the Hatters. The Hatters utilised the opportunity to field a large percentage of young prospects and trialists who were viewed with excitement and intrigue by the heavy turnout of Dunstable and Town fans alike.
On a sun blushed evening in Dunstable both sides began well with a high intensity installed from the outset. The Hatters held the lion share of possession in the opening encounters before Ashikodi’s first sighting at goal. Opening his body up well, the former Premier League striker drilled a shot low across the face of the box before the keeper parried to the feet of Woolley whose effort was tipped wide.
Ashikodi again threatened with a venomous snatching strike which whistled past the upright before former Hatter Adam Watkins responded for Dunstable with his own thunderbolt which just evaded the far upright of Justham’s net.
Skipper Robinson then came close as chances began to flourish for both sides. The midfielder retained possession on the edge of the Dunstable area before jinking away from a lunging tackle and drilling an effort across the face of a flooded goalmouth. Woolley, Banton and Ashikodi all awaited easy tap-ins but the keeper flung himself to ground to smother the ball to maintain a goalless opening.
That frantic chain of events was followed by the game’s opening goal and it came for the underdog hosts. Despite the Hatters comfortably controlling the possession and clear cut chances they found themselves one nil down with less than 25 minutes on the clock. Watkins deep cross found Lee Roach at the far post who nodded back across the face for Matt Nolan to turn home from point-blank range.
The response from the Hatters was severe and immediate as Banton and Woolley linked up superbly for the latter to volley wide. Banton, who continuously dropped deep as a constant outlet of possession for the Hatters, gathered the ball up in midfield before flinging a pass through the back line to meet the run of Woolley. An excellent first touch on his chest saw the ball sit kindly for the forward, who spent large spells hugging the right hand touchline, to cut inside and volley goal wards. The bouncing effort had the keeper scampering across his goal but eventually fell a yard wide of the far post.
Robinson and Ashikodi, twice, were denied by the Dunstable back-line who remained organised and solid against an influx of Hatters attacks before the interval to maintain a slender one goal advantage.
The second half started with the same urgency as the first with Stevenson and Banton coming close to levelling the score line. Stevenson ploughed on into the area before being picked out by a searching cross from full back Jerome Jibodu. The midfielder rose highest to glance a looping head towards the top corner but it the ripples of the net were deceptive as it dropped onto the roof of the Dunstable goal.
Ashikodi departed shortly after the break as Alex Wall was introduced in a bid to bolster the Town’s attacking options and he was quickly involved in the action. His physical presence gave the Dunstable back line a different problem and with Robinson and trialist Jake Hall beginning to up the quality of the midfield distribution Wall was sent blistering through on goal. Shrugging off the challenge of two Dunstable defenders, Wall drifted to the left hand side of the area before delightfully chipping the ball over the onrushing keeper. A wonderful piece of imagination and execution from the substitute deserved a better rewarding than the ball skipping past the far upright as the score remained 1-0 to the hosts.
It wasn’t 1-0 for much longer however when Dunstable doubled their advantage through Roach. A sumptuous piece of skill to control the ball on his chest gave him a yard of space inside the Hatters area which he used to devastating effect slamming the ball into the roof of Justham’s net.
The Hatters again looked to mount a response from deep within and Robinson was playing up to his armband as he looked to turn the tables. Hall whipped in a corner looking for Wall before the ball bobbled kindly out to Robinson on the edge of the area. A slick first touch worked the ball onto his right foot before driving the ball through a barrage of bodies. The keeper sprang down to his right hand side to push the ball away but only as far as Wall. The striker then set the ball out to Jibodu to reload into the area with a hoard of Hatters players still awaiting their chance. It was Stevenson again who rose highest powering his header into the ground before the keeper miraculously flung out an arm to divert the ball to safety.
Wall still seemed destined to mark his appearance with a goal as he lined up a free-kick from range as time ticked down. The Hatters number 10 ignored the options for short and thundered a shot goal wards. The effort was hit with real meaning and venom but as the ball whittled past the post the Hatters hope’s of a comeback were put to sleep.