3rd September - Heybridge Swifts 2 AFC Dunstable 2 (FA Cup)
With the elements against us, we were only 2 minutes away from progressing to the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. Making the trip to Essex to take on Ryman North Heybridge Swifts, as at Kempston Rovers, late goals were our undoing yet again.
With the team now missing influential centre back Leon Cashman with a double fracture to his ankle, the squad is really down to the bare bones. With the Swifts knocking out Royston Town in the previous round 4-1, there was some trepidation on what we were to expect. The Crows are one of the favorites in our league for promotion but we competed well against the men from Essex and gained a replay.
The 1st half was pretty much devoid of any action but the 2nd half more than made up for it.
Amazingly, from our last game of the 2015-16 season when we picked up the SSMFL title, only 4 of those players started today.
The game burst into life, when Adiel Mannion gave us the lead with a cracking strike on 50 minutes. The home side played some attractive football but could not penetrate the OD's defence. With the game ebbing and flowing, Jermaine Hall kept up his goal a game record when his goal matched Mannion's for class.
Now the tie started to change as the referee seem to lose control. He started to dish out yellow cards like confetti and when AFC's Jason Beck picked up his 2nd with 20 minutes remaining, it was backs to the wall time. Heybridge started to bombard our goal but it looked like we might hold on. We even nearly stretched our lead when a shot from Roy Byron was spilled by their keeper. It looked like it would fall to Mannion but he was denied by the Heybridge defence.
On 82 minutes the hosts pulled a goal back through a smart move. They continued to press and when on 88 minutes their left back was given far too much time on the ball, he strode forward to drill home the equaliser. It now looked like Heybridge would progress to the next round, as the referee indicated 10 minutes of added time.
That changed, when their keeper was shown a straight red card for an improper phrase aimed at the referee. This seemed to indicate that Heybridge would be satisfied with a replay as the game finished at 5pm.
AFC Team: St Louis Hamilton. Massay. Murphy. Beck. Griffiths. Silford. Mannion. McGhan George. Hall. Humbert. Christie. Subs used B.Carney. Byron. Subs not used. Darby. Hankins. Kissiedu.
Scorers: Mannion (50). Hall (62)