27th August - AFC Dunstable 2 Kidlington 2
This game had everything. Goals, players being stretchered off, the woodwork being hit on numerous occasions, clearances off the line and superb saves from the visiting keeper.
With Kidlington mirroring AFC, they won their step 5 league, the Hellenic, first time in the Southern League, losing a few players in the close season and suffering injuries to key players. Thinking it would be a easy passage for AFC, the visitors sat on a single point 2nd bottom in the league, you could argue they played the best football we have faced so far this season. On the other hand, it is hard to believe that only 5 players from last seasons title run in started for AFC today.
The visitors were out of the traps as if their lives depended on it. They sprayed the ball around the park with great accuracy and precision and did not look like a team who had only registered a point.
One thing they did struggle with though, was the outstanding form of AFC striker Jermaine Hall. He was a thorn in their side all afternoon, as his double took his goal tally to 8 from 6 games.
The first real chance of the game came on 12 minutes, when a rasping strike from AFC's Tom Silford produced a fantastic save from Sam Warrell. He was so alert, he even blocked the rebound from Jason Beck for a corner. Two minutes later the hosts took the lead. From a Josh Humbert flick on, Hall was on hand to score from close range.
Back came the visitors. A header from Bill Willougby, looped over Ricky Perks in the AFC goal and came back off the crossbar. The first player to be stretchered off for Kidlington was Mark Flanagan midway through the 1st half. This did not dent their hopes as a sweet strike from Jack Dunmall hit both AFC's posts.
Chances continued to come and when Warrell pulled off an acrobatic save from a Hall header, he was starting to become a problem for the home side. It was looking like the half would settle down but Kidlington's Charlie Wise was then stretchered off.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 1 Kidlington 0
Now surely the 2nd half could not match the 1st but it did. The Greens drew level just before the hour mark, when Dunmall picked up the ball on the halfway line and drove at the AFC defence. Not taking heed from his first half strike, he unleashed an unstoppable shot that flew into the net.
Well now Warrell was called into action again and it was that man Hall he denied again. He was not able though to keep Hall at bay, when Adiel Mannion picked him out at the far post to regain AFC's lead on 65 minutes.
The game was turning into a pulsating occasion and more twists and turns were to come. Back game the visitors yet again. A Ravi Shamsi run ended up with Leon Cashman mistiming his tackle and Kidlington were awarded a penalty. Up stepped Lewis Brownhill to slot home.
Still the drama continued. Perks was now called into action to tip over a Dunmall shot. There was still no let up and in the dying minutes it looked like Hall was going to be the hero. He muscled his way past 2 defenders and as Warrell came out, he got a slight touch on Hall's shot, which was enough for Tom Franklin to get back and clear the ball off the line.
The final whistle finally blew and the spoils were shared. AFC boss Steve Heath though was a disgruntled man saying " while that was a great game for the neutral, we made far too many basic errors in the game. Even though Kidlington knocked the ball around well, we just gave them far too much space and time. When we got the ball, they were all over us like a rash. We just did not match their desire and effort, which is very unusual for us but we hung in there and secured another point but it could have been all three if not for their keeper"
AFC Team: Perks. Massay. Murphy. Beck. Cashman. Silford (Byron 65) Mannion. McGhan-George (Hankins 90). Hall. Humbert. B.Carney (Darby 85). Sub not used. Kissiedu
Scorer: Hall (14 & 65). Yellow cards. Humbert. Beck. Cashman. Att 68