9th September - AFC Dunstable 2 Marlow 1
Even though it is very early in the season, with this win and AFC Rushden & Diamonds defeat to Beaconsfield Town, The OD's have found themselves sitting pretty at the top of the table.
This match was a quite dour affair, until the last 13 minutes, when a late tackle by a Marlow player on Courtney Massay saw the referee produce a straight red card. It was not to finish there for the visitors, as by the end of the game they only had 8 players left on the pitch. Also their bench was on the wrong end of a telling off from the match officials.
From the win over Barton Rovers the previous Saturday, AFC manager had a few more players available to him. With Louis Bircham returning to Kings Langley, Nathan Frater came back into the starting line up. Newman Carney was also fit again, so he slotted into left back and Danny Murphy was pushed into midfield. On the bench he was able to name BJ Christie and Christian Tavernier, who had both returned from their suspensions.
A lot was expected from today's game, as Marlow came into it in 5th place, a point behind the hosts. So a win for The Blues would have seen them leapfrog AFC in the league table. Also last seasons encounters were extremely close, with a 2-2 draw at Creasey Park and a narrow 1-0 win for AFC at Marlow. In the end the game was a niggly one, with AFC holding on for the 3 points.
It took only 9 minutes for the hosts to take the lead. Nathan Frater was tripped on the edge of the penalty area. He decided to take the free kick himself. His low effort somehow squirmed under Marlow's keeper. It was nearly 2-0 soon after, when efforts by Jermaine Hall and Ryan Frater in the same move, failed to get the ball over the line.
Now it was Marlow's turn to apply some pressure but Jamie Head denied their striker with a save with his feet. The game was becoming a midfield battle with alot of free kicks being awarded by the referee. One such free kick got the Blues back into the game. Given out on the touch line, a Jordace Holder Spencer low strike, eluded everyone in the penalty box and the ball found the bottom corner, with 6 minutes to the break.
Back came AFC. Hall got away from his markers but his shot was saved. He had presence of mind to win the ball back from the rebound and set up Frater for his second.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 2 Marlow 1
If the 1st half had goals, the second descended into a bit of a farce, as Marlow players started to lose their heads. Firstly the late tackle on Massay resulted in their first red card on 77 minutes. A few moments later, Massay was involved again with a foul tackle. The recipient of the foul decided to flick out a leg on Massay, then all hell broke loose.
Once everyone had calmed down, the match officials got together and produce 2 yellow cards for Marlow's keeper, so off he went. Ryan Frater and Massay also picked up yellow cards. There was also a booking for a Marlow player.
So the visitors were down to 9 men but still fancied their chances of getting something from the game, as AFC for some reason hit the panic button.
Giving the ball away needlessly and committing silly free kicks, Marlow heaped on the pressure. Then deep into added on time, a 2nd yellow card was shown, which resulted in the 3rd for the Blues, as their player gave out an inappropriate remark.
So a tough game finally came to an end, with 9 minutes added on and Heath reflected on the game saying" well that was a strange one. Who would have thought what would have happened in the dying embers of the game, from what had gone on before. I knew today was going to be very tough and we just about held our nerve"
Team: Head. Massay. Carney. R.Frater. Morgan (Christie 66). Bishop. Murphy. Olaleye. Hall (Mannion 83). Close. N.Frater (Tavernier 83). Sub not used. Campbell.
Goalscorers: N.Frater (9 & 43)