13th August - AFC Dunstable 2 Marlow 2
AFC had to be happy to share the spoils with Marlow, as twice they had to come from behind to salvage the point. The home manager Steve Heath though thought his team deserved a bit more from their 2nd half performance, which saw them create the majority of the chances. He said " 3rd game in at this level and we never really got going in the 1st half. I was surprised at Marlow's long ball tactic and we started to fall into that category. Our first 2 games has seen us playing some nice football but we just could not re create that today"
The first 40 minutes of the game was devoid of much quality, as the ball was in the air for long periods. With half time approaching, the game kicked into life as somehow both teams scored. Firstly on 42 minutes, a wayward shot by Marlow's Jay Welch was going well wide of the far post. Isaac Osei-tutu though held his position and the ball found him and he slotted home unmarked.
It was looking like the visitors would hold the single goal lead going into the break. The hosts though struck back immediately, as a neat finish by Jermaine Hall drew the OD's level.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 1 Marlow 1
Hoping to see an improvement in the 2nd half, even though the quality did not really improve, without doubt AFC created the more clear cut chances. While Marlow continued to pump the ball forward, the home team did follow suit to some extent but did try to get the ball wide more often and keep the ball on the deck.
The first real chance of the half came when a cross by Roy Byron just eluded Terry Griffiths at the far post 10 minutes into the the 2nd period. The visitors started to pick up a few yellow cards, as BJ Christie was the centre of their attention. AFC continued to push forward and Josh Humbert drew a neat save from Simon Grant in the Marlow goal on the hour.
AFC nearly took the lead on 65 minutes, when a strike from Christie crashed against Grant's crossbar. The game was now getting niggley, as the referee started to brandish yellow cards. Entering into the final 10 minutes, it seemed Christie was going to give AFC the lead. As he rounded Grant, he was forced slightly wide but still got his shot on target, only to see Chris Ovenden clear off the line.
It was now looking like AFC would force the winner but they fell for the sucker punch. From a rare Marlow corner on 86 minutes, the ball found an unmarked Max Kilman. As he headed the ball goalwards, it somehow eluded all the AFC defenders between him and the goal to cross the line.
Not feeling sorry for themselves, the home side went in search of the equaliser. Good work by Christie forced a block resulting in a corner. Hall's corner was headed home by Leon Cashman to save a point.
Deep into added on time, Marlow were awarded a free kick. What ensued was unpleasant, as both set of players got involved in some pushing and shoving. The result was a straight red card for Marlow's Joshua Francis and a yellow for AFC's Jason Beck. Finally we got to the taking of the kick and Phil John's strike nearly crept under Ricky Perks body. He grabbed it just in time before it crossed the line.
Heath was philosophical at the final whistle saying " what I was really pleased with, was the character we showed to respond twice quickly from going behind" On the first 3 games he commented " I would have snapped your hand off to have 7 points from our first 3 games. Today was probably our first real test regarding playing a combative team and apart from not providing our usual quality, we stuck to our task and competed well"
AFC Team: Perks. Massay. Cashman. Griffiths. Beck. Byron (Cooper 68). B.Carney (Silford 72). Olaleye. Hall. Humbert. Christie. Subs not used. Hankins. Darby.
Scorers: Hall (44). Cashman (88). Yellow cards. Perks. Christie. Beck. Attendance 61.