29th August - Newport Pagnell Town 1 AFC Dunstable 1 (FA Cup Preliminary Round)
AFC had to be happy with a replay, as they played out a 1-1 draw in the Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup. For the first 35 minutes, they would not have been happy with that, as they took the lead, created a few more chances early on and look very comfortable. It all changed with 10 minutes of the half remaining, when debutant Jason Beck was given a straight red card.
After the midweek win, AFC manager was hoping to start with the line up that finished the game apart from Ricky Perks between the sticks. Unfortunately that was not the case, as the Carney brothers had picked up knocks, so took their places on the bench. This paved the way for Beck to make his debut at left back and Taishan Griffith was recalled.
Nerves were definitely evident with the AFC back line in the first 5 minutes. A few misplaced passes and clearances gave the home side hope, as they forced a couple of corners. The visitors needed to settle down and the best way to do this was to score. On 9 minutes Griffith was released down the left flank. He flew past 2 Newport defenders and crossed for BJ Christie to fire home for his 10th goal of the season. In the next 6 minutes, Christie could have secured his hat trick. Firstly he out paced the Newport defence and as keeper Mark Osborn came flying out of his goal, Christie slipped the ball past him but it went inches past the upright. Christie was at it again, as he sent a great strike just over the bar.
AFC were now on top and were forcing free kicks in dangerous positions. With Newman Carney out injured, his superb delivery was missed. On 35 minutes, yet another AFC free kick was awarded. Instead of being an advantage to the visitors, it turned out to be against them. As Beck jostled with his opponent, heads came together and he was given a red card.
Being down to 10 men, AFC still created chances as firstly Jermaine Hall got a shot on target as did Christie.
Half time: Newport Pagnell 0 AFC Dunstable 1
Heath decided to carry on with the 10 that finished the half, but lost the pace of Griffith down the left, as he had to revert to left back. The forward line was also blunted, as Hall retreated into midfield. AFC seemed to have settled into the formation but when they conceded a corner on the hour, they cleared their lines but the ball fell to Josh Crawley on the edge of the box and his sweet strike found the bottom corner.
AFC's work was now cut out, as the 9 outfield players worked to a man to deny Newport. They limited the hosts to a few long range efforts, which did not test Perks. Up the other end a neat free kick between Dale Turney and Leon Cashman nearly gave AFC the lead. Christie was working tirelessly for his team on his own up front and was still causing problems.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes, both teams looked like a replay was best for both of them.
Heath complimented his players at the final whistle " I thought we looked comfortable with 11 men and when we went down to 10, the players worked so hard for each other. In the end I have to happy to get a replay out of the game but we still could have nicked it"
AFC Team: Perks. Massay. Beck. Griffiths. Cashman. Griffith. Turney. Olaleye. Christie. Humbert. Hall. Subs used. B.Carney. Cooper. Subs not used. Byron. Ryan. N.Carney.
Goalscorer: Christie (9)