15th April - Hertford Town 1 AFC Dunstable 3
Three months ago when AFC agreed to move this fixture to a Friday night, little did they know, more than a tough game was to be encountered. Over the past week, there has been a fall out between the Hertford board and their manager. Protests were planned in support of the man in charge, so a highly fueled game was expected.
As Hertingfordbury Park was being used for youth cup finals on Saturday, the OD's knew the trip on a Friday night would steal a march on their rivals. A win would see AFC secure promotion to the Southern League. In the end, at half time news came through that Hoddesdon Town had failed their ground grading so step 4 football was secured.
Hertford picked their strongest possible line up, as the players were fully behind their boss. Being a strong force at home, they had notched 65 goals at the Park and were looking to halt AFC's title ambitions.
On a damp night, both teams were up for the game. A crowd approaching 200 made the atmosphere electric. The visitors had the better of the first 20 minutes. They secured the ball for long periods and had a couple of decent efforts on goal. A strike from Charlie Gorman struck the upright on 12 minutes and a Nathan Frater free kick missed the target by a whisker.
From Hertford's first meaningful attack they forced a corner. Usually solid at set pieces, the AFC defence let Louis Rose have a free header to give the hosts the lead on 25 minutes. The visitors struck back straight away as from a corner, Josh Humbert set up Gorman who chipped Hertford keeper Harry Rickets.
AFC continued to press for a 2nd and when a great Carney cross found BJ Christie, his header was somehow saved by Rickets.
Half Time: Hertford Town 1 AFC Dunstable 1
With the start of the 2nd half, placards started to appear in support of Hertford's manager and the crowd started to become more vocal. The home players rose to the challenge but to be fair to the visitors coped pretty well and competed fully with them. AFC had to make a change at the break, when Bill Morgan did not appear, Terry Griffiths slotted in next to Leon Cashman in the centre of defence. The pairing kept the dangerous Hertford's forwards at arms length to the extent did not really test Ricky Perks in the OD's goal.
With AFC looking for a 2nd it came with 15 minutes remaining. When Christie was dragged down for the umpteenth time on the edge of the Hertford box, Carney's delivery found Griffiths at the far post to head home.
It was looking like AFC would settle for a 2-1 win but that was not to be. As Hertford pushed for an equaliser, they started to leave gaps at the back. AFC forced a corner on 88 minutes and when Gorman returned the favour to set up Humbert, he burst through to make it 3-1. It was nearly 4-1 as Christie broke clear but was denied by Rickets twice.
So now on 95 points, promotion to the Southern League in the bag and now 4 points needed for the title to make it mathematically safe, even though their goal difference is so superior 3 might be enough. AFC manager Steve Heath was bursting with praise for his players saying " what a shift they put in tonight. They had to put up with some unsavoury tactics but came through with flying colours. All season they have been unbelievably disciplined and their attitude has been first class. I know the title is still to be won and with 3 games left they will give everything"
AFC Team: Perks. Massay. N.Carney. Morgan. Cashman. Jones. Gorman. Olaleye. Christie. Humbert. Frater. Sub used. Griffiths. Subs not used. Hall. Byron. Kissiedu. Langston.
Scorers: Gorman (26). Griffiths (75). Humbert (88)