Under 18 EJA

League: Eastern Junior Alliance

Manager: Anthony Christophi

Assistant Manager: Robbie Reilly

Head Coach: Valentine Mbewe

E mail: Click here


We are always looking for players who feel they have what it takes to play for the most progressive club in Bedfordshire and also compete in the highly competitive Eastern Junior Alliance League. Please use the link above to contact the team manager directly.


Sunday 24 April 2016

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA Respond Perfectly 

Biggleswade United U16 EJA 0 v 11 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 

After Friday night’s disappointment in the County Cup final, AFC Dunstable U16 EJA were looking to lay some ghosts to rest at the home of Biggleswade United in the final game of the Eastern Junior Alliance season. It was obvious to the management team in the warm up that the boys were determined to put right all that they had got wrong on the biggest night of their season 2 days earlier. Straight from the kick off, the Biggleswade ‘keeper was unable to hold a sharp strike from Adam Hughes and Ivan Nsimbi was on hand to give the ‘OD’s’ the lead after just 10 seconds of play. A fantastic start that calmed any nerves in the AFC Dunstable ranks. Despite near total domination, particularly down the flanks with the ever willing Kieran Phillips from right full back and Kai Reilly from left full back causing all manner of problems with their lung bursting overlapping runs to confuse the Biggleswade defence, it was to be another 25 minutes before Telmo Jesus doubled the AFC Dunstable lead. Just 5 minutes later and it was Charlie Parker, playing in an unusual ‘No. 10’ role today, to get in on the act with a smart shot from just outside the area that arrowed into the bottom corner of the net for 3-0. 

Into the 2nd half and 10 minutes after the re-start, the game was briefly turned into the Ivan Nsimbi show as he plundered a further 4 goals in 10 minutes. Of note was his first and last goals in this sequence, as they were both set up in differing circumstances by the same player who was looking to earn a ‘Man of the Match’ award for his endeavours. Kieran Phillips was having a field day down the right-hand side of the pitch and he linked up in sequence with Aidan Fennelly, Kyle Ajayi and Adam Hughes whilst working his way down the pitch. After finally being released, he burst passed the Biggleswade United full back and sent a glorious cross over that Ivan Nsimbi expertly finished by out-jumping his markers to head a quality goal for 4-0. Two further goals quickly followed from him to make the score 6-0, before yet another flowing move finally ended up with Kieran Phillips being put through on goal. It looked like it might just turn out to be a perfect day for the full back; however, the ‘keeper saved his effort with his legs allowing Ivan Nsimbi to prosper and get his 5th goal of the game. It was then the turn of another ‘Man of the Match’ contender to get in on the act. Much like his colleague down the right, Kai Reilly was having some great success from left back down his side of the pitch and he combined with Aaron Hudson, Aidan Fennelly and Adam Hughes before being released into the box where he made no mistake with a stunning shot into the top corner of the net to make the score-line 8-0 to the ‘OD’s’. Two goals in a minute allowed Telmo Jesus to compete his hat-trick before the scoring was wrapped up by Adam Hughes who deserved a goal for his endeavours.

A fantastic response to what has been a difficult few days for this group of players to cope with. However, the manner in which they went about their business in this final game of their season spoke volumes of their character. A number of players stood out; Kieran Phillips and Kai Reilly were both superb and have terrific engines which allows them to make 60, 70 yard runs all day long to unsettle defences. A fantastic effort from the pair of them. Adam Hughes was everywhere and used his full array of passing skills to expert effect; however, Ivan Nsimbi was on fire in front of goal today and he combined this with an infectious work-rate up front that the Biggleswade United defenders just couldn’t live with to deservedly shade the ‘Man of the Match’ award from his 3 colleagues who ran him close. A positive end to the first season in the Eastern Junior Alliance for these players in what is a highly competitive league. They will be far better prepared next season and will be expected to be right up there challenging for honours.

Friday 22 April 2016

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA Defeated in County Cup Final 

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 0 v 1 Leighton Town Youth 

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA came into this County Cup Final as hot favourites to win what would have been the third time on the trot for most of this squad to be crowned County Champions. However, as is often the case, the underdogs considerably raised their game to out fight and out play their more illustrious opponents. Under floodlights on a perfect pitch on a wet Friday evening at the ‘Armadillo Stadium’, home of Arlesey Town FC, for the first 20 minutes, the expected pattern to the game was played out with the ‘OD’s’ having most of the possession. However, they very rarely broke through a determined and very effective Leighton Town Youth defence. After 22 minutes, a deep cross from Adam Hughes was headed goalwards by Kyle Ajayi and just as the AFC Dunstable players prepared to celebrate the opening goal, a defender popped up from nowhere to head the ball clear off the line. That was as good as it got in the first half from the ‘OD’s’, as Leighton Town’s confidence grew with each passing minute. After 30 minutes, a long ball over the top could and should have been cleared with ease; however, the AFC Dunstable defence were guilty of trying to overplay and got caught out, giving the lively Leighton Town striker the easy task of putting his side into the lead. 

The second half was much the same as the first. AFC Dunstable had most of the possession, but never got going and failed to create any meaningful chances. Leighton Town Youth were playing as if their lives depended on it and were excellent value for their lead. As time wore on, the ‘OD’s’ became less structured and more panicked, as they went in search of an elusive equaliser. The game finished with a succession of corners from AFC Dunstable, but the ball just would not drop for them and there was always a willing volunteer in the Leighton Town ranks to clear the danger. At the final whistle, the deserved winners celebrated wildly, and so they should. They were magnificent on the night and all involved with AFC Dunstable U16 EJA had no complaints and offered their congratulations to the new U16 Bedfordshire County Champions, Leighton Town Youth! 

An extremely disappointing and frustrating night for the ‘OD’s’ but a valuable lesson in life will hopefully be learned. All the talent in the World will count for nothing unless you are prepared to work harder than your opponent to achieve your aims. Thankfully, they have a chance to rectify this disappointment in their final EJA league game on Sunday against Biggleswade United. The management team consoled their players as best they could, but the manner of this defeat will live long in the memory for these talented young footballers. 

Sunday 17 April 2016

AFC Dunstable Edge Thrilling Match

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 3 v 2 Broxbourne Borough U16 EJA

AFC Dunstable welcomed high flying Broxbourne Borough to Creasey Park for their penultimate Eastern Junior Alliance League fixture. Broxbourne Borough were sitting 2nd in the league with a real opportunity to win the Championship and always play a high quality brand of football, so the 'OD's' knew they were in for a tough game. The first 20 minutes found both sides sizing each other up without many chances being created; however, a quick breakaway from Broxbourne Borough after 25 minutes saw them take the lead. AFC Dunstable responded superbly and just 5 minutes later, Charlie Parker unleashed an unstoppable shot that flew into the bottom right hand corner of the net to level the scores. Next up with a moment of magic was Mason Smith, who turned sharply to lose his man in the middle of the pitch and then let fly with his weaker left foot from 25 yards to completely turn the game on its head and send the 'OD's' in at half time 2-1 up.

The second half saw AFC Dunstable fend off attack after attack as Broxbourne Borough sought to keep their now faint hopes of winning the title alive. Lewis Lodge was inspirational at the heart of the defence, willing his team mates on to keep their lead in tact. When the defensive line was breached, Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal was more than up to the task of keeping the ball out. Just when it seemed that their endeavours over the past few weeks would finally yield a deserved victory, disaster struck when Broxbourne Borough equalised with just 5 minutes remaining. Teams made of lesser stuff would have crumbled at this massive disappointment, but not this group of lads, as they somehow managed to raise their levels even higher to push Broxbourne Borough back in their search for 3 well earned points. A number of corners were forced and from one of these, both Ertone Bomolo and Mason Smith attacked Adam Hughes' perfect delivery into the 6 yard box with vigour and it was Mason Smith who eventually cleverly back heeled the ball into the net to cue wild celebrations.

A fantastic performance and finally a victory for these lads that they have more than deserved. Broxbourne Borough are a superb footballing side and one of the strongest teams in the league, so this victory cannot be under stated. Kieran Phillips, Ben Collinge, Elijah Babalola and Kai Reilly were superb at the back and this, coupled with the hard working Charlie Parker up front, got the boys over the line. Mason Smith was his usual all action self in the middle of the park and popped up with 2 vital goals, but 'Man of the Match' went to Lewis Lodge. This lad never knows when he is beaten and drives his team mates on to higher levels with his never say die attitude, an absolutely inspirational performance from the 'OD's' skipper

Sunday 10 April 2016

OD’s Denied by Late Controversial Penalty

Wingate & Finchley U16 EJA 2 v 2 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

This was the third game in a week for these lads in what is a nightmare finish to the season of 7 games in 21 days, including the County Cup final at Arlesey Town FC on Friday 22nd April. Wingate & Finchley are on a great run of form, so the ‘OD’s’ knew they would need to be up for this game. The first real chance fell to Wingate & Finchley after a good move down their left led to a looping header that Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal did fantastically well to reach back and scoop the ball out from underneath his own crossbar before landing in his own net, but still having the ability to react quickest to smother the ball in the 6-yard box before any of the waiting Wingate & Finchley strikers could convert the loose ball.

Shortly after this, a fantastic, free-flowing move saw the ball moved from Adam Hughes across the pitch to the overlapping Kieran Phillips from right back. After expertly controlling the high ball on his chest, Kieran Phillips moved the ball into Kyle Ajayi supporting from the midfield before a 1-2 with Ivan Nsimbi allowed Kyle Ajayi to make further progress into the Wingate & Finchley area. From here the ball was moved back out to the right flank to allow Kieran Phillips to put in a devilish cross that was inches away from being converted by the on-rushing Charlie Parker.

With the game scoreless at half time, Wingate & Finchley took the lead just after the restart with a quite unstoppable shot that flew into the top hand corner of Dan Gould’s goal from all of 40 yards. A great goal that would have graced any game at any level. Now it was time for AFC Dunstable to show some character and this they have proved to have in abundance recently. Telmo Jesus had been introduced in the first half and was working hard up top with Ivan Nsimbi, but the Wingate & Finchley defence were holding strong. Further changes saw Ben Collinge on for Kieran Phillips at right back and Charlie Parker re-introduced up front with Telmo Jesus reverting back to left midfield for Aaron Hudson. With virtually his first touch, Ben Collinge’s perseverance allowed him to level the scores from a scramble after a quality free kick delivery from Adam Hughes.

Now playing with full confidence, AFC Dunstable constantly pressed their opponents back and from one of the numerous attacking moves, Ivan Nsimbi showed his undoubted quality, turning the Wingate & Finchley defenders inside out, before expertly dispatching the ball into the top left hand corner of the net to give the ‘OD’s’ a well-deserved 2-1 lead. Finally, were AFC Dunstable going to be rewarded for their recent endeavours. The answer was to be “No”, after the referee decided to get in on the game to award the softest of penalties you are ever likely to see! This was such a shame, as up to this moment, he had had a good game, allowing the game to flow and the quality players taking part in this game the stage they all deserve to show their talents. With the ball lofted hopefully into the box by Wingate & Finchley in a desperate attempt to get something out of the game right at the death, the striker cleverly threw himself to the floor and conned the official into awarding a penalty kick. An absolute disastrous decision that blotted a game of the highest quality from all involved up to that point!

So after 2 very difficult games in the space of just 3 days against high quality opposition, the ‘OD’s; can count themselves extremely unlucky to come away with only one point. Nobody could have complained had they taken all 6, but that is sometimes how it goes. They can only hope that the ‘Rub of the Green’ starts to go in their favour in the last 4 games of their season between now and the 24th April. ‘Man of the match’ was awarded to Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal after a quite miraculous save in the first half to keep the scores level. He has really developed into a goalkeeper of the highest quality and has a bright future ahead of him if he keeps working and developing at the rate he is at the moment.

Friday 08 April 2016

Late Heartbreak for AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 0 v 1 Boreham Wood U16 EJA

AFC Dunstable welcomed Eastern Junior Alliance League leaders Boreham Wood to Creasey Park for a Friday evening fixture that was forced on both sides due to the large backlog of fixtures. This was always going to be a tough fixture for the ‘OD’s’ as Boreham Wood are dangerous in all areas of the park and have handed out some high scoring defeats to sides this season. AFC Dunstable were aware that their performance last weekend was not as good as it could have been and came out determined to put that right. Looking extremely organised and focused, they harried and pressed their opponents all over the park, with Charlie Parker up front on his own putting miles on the clock with his work rate in keeping the Boreham Wood back line occupied and under pressure as they tried to pass the ball between themselves. In midfield, Mason Smith marshalled his team mates around him to deny any space for their opposite numbers with the creative quartet of Adam Hughes, Aidan Fennelly, Ivan Nsimbi and Aaron Hudson producing some delightful football at times to remind everybody that they can play too. Dan Gould in the ‘OD’s’ goal was always dominant when the ball was lifted into his area with skipper Lewis Lodge and his centre back partner Ertone Bomolo both winning their individual battles.

Mid-way through the half, a moment of magic from AFC Dunstable deserved a better reward when the ball was moved at pace through the midfield area to the feet of Adam Hughes. He played a ball into the feet of Charlie Parker who used his considerable strength to hold off a couple of robust challenges from the Boreham Wood defenders to eventually roll the ball back into the path of Adam Hughes who hit a glorious strike from 35 yards that cannoned back off the bar with the Boreham Wood ‘keeper rooted to the spot. ‘Lady Luck’ has not shone on the ‘OD’s’ of late and here was another example of that! Just before half time and a moment of madness by the talented big striker up front for Boreham Wood left Lewis Lodge poleaxed after receiving what the referee deemed a blow to the head. A red card was shown and the half finished with some unsavoury reactions from the Boreham Wood contingent both on and off the pitch.

Cool heads were needed and the AFC Dunstable management team implored their side to remain focused on the game in hand and not to become embroiled in anything else. Ertone Bomolo had picked up a slight knee injury that could not be risked further; however, a more than adequate replacement in Elijah Babalola was introduced during the break. Shortly after the re-start, Cameron Veazey and Telmo Jesus were also introduced for Charlie Parker and Ivan Nsimbi who had both run themselves into the ground and deserved a breather. A slight tweak in formation to a more offensive shape was implemented as the ‘OD’s’ sensed that the game was now theirs for the taking. Kieran Phillips and Kyle Ajayi were finally released from their defensive duties that they had both carried out superbly and given more license to cause problems with their extremely effective overlapping runs. The final change saw Kai Reilly welcomed back after completing his suspension with Kyle Ajayi vacating the left back berth and pushing further forward into midfield.

Just as it looked like the game would end scoreless, a long ball over the top of the AFC Dunstable defence was coolly converted to give Boreham Wood the 3 points right at the death. The ‘OD’s’ were shattered by this turn of events, as the very least they deserved was a draw; however, they must take comfort from the fact that they more than matched their illustrious opponents and no-one could have argued had the winner gone their way. Mason Smith was superb in the heart of the AFC Dunstable midfield before being forced off as a precaution due to a nasty clash of heads, Aidan Fennelly continued his good form of late with his clever use of the ball, but ‘Man of the Match’ was Adam Hughes who was everywhere and always a threat with his excellent range of accurate passing. His strike in the first half deserved to win any match, but unfortunately it crashed against the bar. This was the 2nd match in a run of 7 games in 21 days for the young ‘OD’s’ and surely at some point ‘Lady Luck’ will shine down on them, as for large parts of this game, they were the dominant side.

Sunday 03 April 2016

Spoils Shared in Tight Game

Colney Heath U16 EJA 2 v 2 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

This match was always going to be a tight affair between 2 sides who are competing in the Eastern Junior Alliance for the first time and trying to finish as high up the league as possible as the season nears its end. AFC Dunstable started the brighter of the 2 sides with Mason Smith, Aaron Hudson and Aidan Fennelly expertly linking up with the more advanced Adam Hughes in the ‘OD’s’ midfield. In addition, the hard working front pair of Charlie Parker and Ertone Bomolo kept the Colney Heath defence on their toes for large parts of the opening 20 minutes. The breakthrough almost arrived after Ben Collinge surged down the right flank from his full back position and delivered a lovely cross that Ertone Bomolo was inches away from converting. Shortly after this, Aaron Hudson took a corner kick and, after his first attempt was cleared, he delivered an excellent cross to the back post which Ertone Bomolo cleverly headed over the despairing Colney Heath ‘keeper into the far corner of the net.

Unfortunately, a few of the AFC Dunstable players switched off from this moment and allowed their opponents to seize the initiative. Colney Heath were having their best spell of the game and an equaliser seemed inevitable. This came when the Colney Heath players sensed that their opponents were not concentrating and played a quick free kick towards the 18-yard box which went uncontested and allowed the Colney Heath striker the easy task of nodding the bouncing ball past the exposed Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal; a very disappointing goal to concede.

So the 2 sides went in at half time with the AFC Dunstable players and management rightly disappointed after they had made such a promising start to proceedings. Despite some harsh words in the dressing room, the break did little to wake the ‘OD’s’ from their slumber as within 2 minutes of the re-start, Colney Heath took the lead after their skilful left winger worked some space and struck a glorious shot in off the underside of the bar. Now it was going to be a real test of character for the AFC Dunstable players as the management team looked for the leaders in their ranks to surface. Sensing that some of them had let themselves down, the AFC Dunstable players started to show some of the desire that was evident in the first 20 minutes of the game after a change in formation and personnel was introduced. Now playing with a back 3 of Kieran Phillips, who was introduced for the tiring Ben Collinge, Elijah Babalola and ‘skipper Lewis Lodge, they went in search of an equaliser. Wave after wave of attack ensued as the constant probing balls from Aidan Fennelly, Kyle Ajayi and Adam Hughes threatened to lead to a deserved equaliser. A number of excellent opportunities came along which, with a little bit more composure and some better decision making, should have led to a second goal for AFC Dunstable.

Aaron Hudson was re-introduced with instructions to use his pace and skill to attack the Colney Heath back line and this he did to perfection withing 5 minutes of coming back on. Having already beaten 2 players, he was unceremoniously brought down just outside the Colney Heath 18-yard box. Appeals for a penalty were rightly waved away; however, it made little difference, as Adam Hughes delivered the perfect strike from 20 yards towards the top left-hand corner of the goal and in off the post for a well deserved equaliser. At any level of football, this was a superbly executed free kick which any ‘keeper in the World would have struggled to keep out, excellent! There looked like there was only going to be one winner from this moment on, but despite near constant pressure on the Colney Heath goal together with a mixture of poor finishing and excellent last ditch defending meant that the spoils were shared as the referee blew the final whistle.

This felt like 2 points dropped rather than a point gained for the young ‘OD’s’, but the encouraging thing to take from this game was the positive response given after going 2-1 behind. The lads knew they had let themselves down in the first half, but put that behind them to recover and, in the end, finish the much stronger side. ‘Man of the Match’ was also a close run affair as Adam Hughes worked tirelessly all over the pitch and also scored a ‘Goal of the Season’ contender with his expertly taken free-kick. The introduction of Kieran Phillips together with the change in formation at the same time coincided with the reversal in proceedings, as he formed a strong defensive back 3 with Elijah Babalola, but also nullified the threat posed by the tricky Colney Heath left winger to allow his team mates in front of him to dominate the final 30 minutes of the match. However, the ‘Man of the Match’ ward deservedly went to Aidan Fennelly for the 2nd week running. His ability to support the play and constantly recycle the ball to keep AFC Dunstable moving forwards is improving every week. His use of the ball is simple, but extrememly effective and he is now starting to dictate games from the middle of the park. An excellent performance from the AFC Dunstable No. 8!

Sunday 27 March 2016

Spoils Shared in 8-Goal Thriller

Hoddesdon Town FC U16 EJA 4 v 4 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

Easter Sunday is normally a time associated with memorable comebacks and, in true keeping with the day, this would be no different. AFC Dunstable U16s had been severely depleted mostly due to Luton Town FC's annual tour and a makeshift squad saw them rely upon 2 players who would normally represent the U15 side. So it was that the group of 13 players made their way to the 'Akademy' in Stevenage, a venue familiar to many, but not necessarily as the 'home' ground of Hoddesdon Town who's 1st team pitch had become a casualty of the weather. 

In an effort to push the lads and to help them learn the different formations that they will need to master as part of their footballing development, a perseverance of the 3-5-2 set up was initially used however, after several well worked moves by the hosts culminating in numerous outstanding saves from the 'solid as a rock' Dan Gould in the visitor's goal, a change to the more familiar 4-1-4-1 was instigated after 10 minutes. Limited in terms of defensive options, Kieran Phillips, Ben Collinge and Ertone Bomolo were joined by Kyle Ajayi, with the outstanding Aidan Fennelly sitting just in front of them. Suddenly, AFC looked more like their old selves with the introduction of Tom Barbato in the midfield and they started to get the ball down and play, despite the wind and rain that had started. D'anell Phillips, who had been playing up front, was sacrificed not because of his performance, but more so that a defensive platform could be established. 

The call was again for the 'OD's' to get the ball out to the flanks and the width and pace was provided in equal measure by Aaron Hudson and Cameron Veazey who were given instructions to attack at every opportunity and to supply quality service to the indomitable Charlie Parker who was sitting in front of skipper Adam Hughes. The change in formation appeared to have done the trick as, with roughly 30 minutes of the first half played, a promising AFC attack was thwarted in the penalty area; however, the Referee adjudged unfairly so and a spot kick was awarded. Charlie picked himself up after being fouled and he duly sent the Hoddesdon Town 'keeper the wrong way and the ball fizzed in to the back of the net for a well-deserved lead for AFC Dunstable. 

What followed can only be described as a freak of nature, as a severe hail storm ensued and the referee had no option but to take the players from the field of play due to issues with visibility. This could not have come at a worse time for AFC Dunstable, as they had built a good head of steam and were starting to control play. Shortly after the restart, and possibly with a few of the lads still with their heads in the dressing room, 2 quick fire goals from the hosts saw a 0-1 AFC lead turn in a 2-1 deficit as the referee blew for half time. Somewhat bemused, and in an effort to keep warm, the AFC lads stayed out and talked about formations and their style of play and also about how the game had panned out last time they played Hoddesdon, which ended in a 4-0 defeat. Would the lessons from that game be learned? The lads stretched off and jogged about as they waited for play to resume. 

The second half kicked off and it was similar to the first in terms of chances created by the hosts and the score line soon became 3-1. There was evidence of some dissent in the ranks and the management team called for strong leadership, which was sadly lacking at times. AFC Dunstable continued to play their football and this led in part to a calamitous 4th goal which came as a result of a defensive mix up caused by a lack of communication. The 'OD's' had given the ball away cheaply in the middle of the park and the Hoddesdon attacker made no mistake with his finish which looped over the stranded AFC 'keeper. Things were not looking good for AFC Dunstable until a free kick was awarded on the right hand side of the Hoddesdon box and the ball was expertly 'passed' in to the top corner of the net by Aaron Hudson from all of 25 yards for 4-2. There was hope! 

A couple more changes of personnel saw Luis Brooker enter the fray on the right hand side and to give the home defence something different to think about. This prompted a new invigoration for the ‘OD’s’ who were playing well and moving the ball around nicely. A corner was swung in by Adam Hughes from the left and Kyle Ajayi rose majestically in the box to nod in unchallenged to make it 4-3. The home players were now showing signs of dissent and disbelief that they were in danger of throwing 3 points away. Was the comeback on? It most certainly was so far as the 'OD's' were concerned and a few more positional and tactical changes were made which saw Cameron Veazey replace Charlie Parker up front. With time ticking away, a great passing move developed down the left hand side and, after some lovely interplay, the ball was played into the box by D'anell Phillips and Cameron Veazey was able to slide the ball across the 'keeper and into the far corner of the net for a thrilling 4-4 score line.

The referee blew for full time in glorious sunshine with AFC Dunstable on the attack and looking for a winner, but a draw was probably the right result in a game that either side could justifiably have felt they could and should have won. A truly outstanding game of football that ebbed and flowed and registered AFC's only draw of the season so far, but keeps them very much in touch with the top half of the table, having games in hand over their close competition. A gritty performance, coupled with a 'never say die' approach was in evidence today. Heads could easily have gone down at 4-1, but this group again proved that they have the ability and desire to compete against yet another top side. 

Sunday 20 March 2016

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA Defeated in Close Encounter

Boreham Wood U16 EJA 1 v 0 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

After their recent County Cup exploits and a frustratingly free weekend, Sunday 20th March saw a welcome return to competitive football for the blues as they looked to fulfil their fixtures and this time League matters were the priority, rather than progression in the ‘knock out’ format of the game. The ‘OD’s’ knew it would be another monumental challenge, but one they duly and willingly accepted, and they lined up again against Boreham Wood, another team who will certainly be in the title mix come the end of the season. This was the last of the teams that the lads had left to face in the League however some mutual research had been undertaken during a pre-season tournament when the two teams previously met. That game was incredibly close and this match would be no different. The Boreham Wood Management Team made no secret of the fact that they had been doing their homework on AFC Dunstable, and they had shown huge respect by coming to watch two of their recent games. One of these, against Biggleswade Town, really sent shock waves throughout the League and confirmed that the ‘OD’s’ were not there just to make the numbers up. 

A pleasant morning at the sumptuous sporting home of St Albans School saw a few of the regular names missing from the ‘OD’s’ squad for a variety of reasons, however a continuation of the ‘3-5-2’ formation that had worked so well last time out was selected and the game kicked off, just as the sun came out. A nervy start from both sides saw the hosts attempting to work the ball wide, rather than play through the channels, and this was an area where the chosen formation should have come to the aid of the ‘OD’s’ however, somewhat surprisingly, the team appeared to lack width. What was clearly apparent during the first 40 minutes was just how evenly matched the two sides were in terms of technical and tactical abilities, and that it would take something special from either side to make the breakthrough, both sides seemingly cancelling each other out for large periods of the half. The midfield trio of Adam Hughes, Mason Smith and Kyle Ajayi were all working incredibly hard for scant reward however their individual and collective efforts did not go un-noticed. 

Boreham Wood, with their two tall strikers, could have been excused for playing long balls in to them from early on however the blues defence was up to everything that was thrown at them and the imperious Lewis Lodge was at his inspiration best, marshalling the defence and midfield in a show of natural leadership. Due to some determined defending by the visitors, most notably from Ben Collinge and Ertone Bomolo, and it must be said by some Boreham Wood profligacy in front of goal, the first half ended goalless however that doesn’t even begin to tell the story. How times have changed when this team can feel justifiably unhappy that they aren’t winning a game against opposition of this quality. In what would be seen by many neutrals as a very decent half of football, although there were no raised voices in the huddle at the break, questions were asked of the AFC lads and their individual performances and how they compared to what was demanded of them prior to the start of the game i.e. passion, desire, commitment and hunger. In many of these areas, AFC had to admit that they were second best and a couple of changes were made at half time, to freshen things up and to revert to a more familiar and attack minded ‘4-diamond-2’ formation. 

These changes almost brought an immediate result as half time replacement Cameron Veazey on the right wing, who had come on for Aaron Hudson, brought a long ball down out of the air from the other half time substitute Aidan Fennelly, who had replaced Kieran Phillips, and with a sublime first touch he beat his marker and proceeded to drive in field and on towards goal. Sadly, his resulting shot was high and wide however AFC Dunstable’s increased attacking intent was made clear for all to see. This prompted a response from the hosts who remained confident on the ball and were patient in their build up play. A number of corners were exchanged by both teams with neither ‘keeper making any saves of note and AFC started to show some of the football that they want to be remembered for, playing the ball out of defence, passing and moving and changing the point of the attack. For periods of the second half, AFC dominated play however they had nothing to show for their efforts with the impressive Boreham Wood center backs dealing well with what service found its way to the ever willing Charlie Parker up front. The introduction of Telmo Jesus, on for the spirited Ivan Nsimbi, further changed the formation in to a fluid 4-3-3 and Boreham Wood were struggling at times to deal with the constant AFC movement, on and off the ball. Both sides were comfortable without the ball and were happy to play on the break, and it would be from such a move that the game’s only goal would come. 

Just as the visitors appeared to be building up a head of steam, mid-way through the second half a moment of magic changed the game for good. Following a Dunstable corner which was cleared to half way, a seemingly unthreatening run that started on the wide left for the visitors saw their winger change pace and break infield and dribble towards the visitor’s back line. As they have been taught and coached in this situation by the AFC Management Team, the Dunstable defenders ‘showed’ the player towards an area where they had additional defenders, however no tackle was forthcoming as the player ominously managed to find space on the edge of the Dunstable box, having beaten three defenders. His shot was expertly dispatched with inch perfect precision and the fully stretched Dan Gould in the AFC goal, who being his usual calm and assured self throughout the game, could not even get a fingertip on the ball which nestled in to the bottom corner for 1-0. If the lad had have put the ball anywhere else it would not have been a goal so, whilst the Dunstable players can feel disappointed by the outcome, sometimes you have to simply tip your hat to a piece of skill and a finish that would justifiably win any game. The wild reactions and celebrations of the Boreham Wood players and supporters spoke volumes about what that goal meant to them. No Dunstable heads went down, however a further increase in their work rate did not produce the goal that they deserved and Boreham Wood showed their class and experience of playing at this level to see the game out. 

What this game provides further evidence of, if it were required, is that each individual member of the squad has grown and developed since the start of the season and a genuine feeling of team spirit is evolving. Sadly, that spirit has not always been evident this season however AFC Dunstable certainly earned the right to play in the second half and the Boreham Wood lads knew that they had been in a game. Whilst AFC didn’t take any points from the game, they did take away another priceless learning experience of football at this level and will aim to replicate the performance next time against yet another top side, away to Hoddesdon Town on Easter Sunday.

Sunday 06 March 2016

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA Reach County Cup Final

Biggleswade Town FC U16 1 v 3 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

These 2 talented sides met for the 2nd week running after last week’s dramatic league fixture led to AFC Dunstable U16 EJA breaking Biggleswade Town U16 EJA’s 11-month unbeaten run in all competitions. The ‘ODs’ were expecting a backlash and came out well prepared for that; however, it was they who took a stranglehold of the game from the start. Their hard work constantly unsettled the Biggleswade Town players and resulted in a number of free kicks in the middle of the park. With Adam Hughes taking charge of these, the Biggleswade goal was regularly put under threat from his pin-point deliveries. After 20 minutes, from one of these free kicks, Charlie Parker expertly controlled and swivelled in one movement to create himself a couple of yards on the edge of the 18-yard box and then fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the Biggleswade goal to give AFC Dunstable a deserved lead. This spurred Biggleswade Town into action and, together with the ‘ODs’ taking their foot off the gas, they began to dominate the game in search of an equaliser. Five minutes before the break, a lapse in concentration by AFC Dunstable from a Biggleswade Town throw in led to Robbie Buchanan being able to bring the ball down, turn and attack the 18-yard box. For the 2ndweek running, his terrific skill on the ball led to him being brought down inside the box for a penalty which Dan Gould in the ‘ODs’ goal, unlike last week, was unable to keep out. This was no more that Biggleswade Town deserved, so the 2 teams went in at half time with the game on level terms.

The AFC Dunstable management team had some stern words for their players during the break, reminding them that all the talent in the World counts for nothing if you are not prepared to put in the hard work to earn your rewards. This seemed to strike a chord with the AFC Dunstable players and they began the 2nd half determined to make up for their lack of endeavour in the final minutes of the first half. Ten minutes after the re-start, Charlie Parker was put through on goal by a glorious through ball from his strike partner Ivan Nsimbi and he coolly lobbed the Biggleswade Town ‘keeper for his and AFC Dunstable’s 2nd goal. The next 10 minutes were going to be key in deciding this closely fought fixture; however, the ‘ODs’ had learnt their lesson from the first half and kept their work rate high, showing incredible desire to continue to dominate in a keenly contested midfield. Mason Smith was showing the way with a typical all-action performance and he was ably supported by Kyle Ajayi in the middle of the park. This, together with a determined defence of Kieran Phillips, Elijah Babalola and captain Lewis Lodge, kept Biggleswade Town at arm’s length. Fifteen minutes from the end, Ivan Nsimbi showed an incredible will to win after hassling and pressing the Biggleswade Town full back to eventually emerge with the ball. From here he cleverly laid the ball into his strike partner Charlie Parker and continued his run towards the heart of the Biggleswade Town defence. Charlie Parker spotted the run and placed a perfect ball into Ivan Nsimbi’s feet and between the ‘Waders’ centre backs and he coolly placed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to give the ‘ODs’ a deserved 3-1 lead. Ertone Bomolo was introduced shortly afterwards for Kieran Phillips, who had run himself into the ground, and he hit the ground running to continue to ensure the AFC Dunstable defence was water tight and allow the ‘ODs’ to close out the game for a fantastic 3-1 victory.

For the vast majority of the AFC Dunstable players, this will be their third Bedfordshire County FA Cup final on the trot after winning the trophy at both U13 and U14 age groups (the trophy is not contested at U15 level). A fantastic performance from every single one of the ‘ODs’ players and they can now look forward to the cup final under floodlights on Friday 22nd April. Biggleswade Town hid their obvious disappointment to sportingly wish their opponents the very best of luck, which was fantastic to see. The football these 2 sides played was of the very highest quality and it is unfortunate that there had to be a loser. Biggleswade Town are still very much in contention for the Eastern Junior Alliance league title and AFC Dunstable wished them well in their endeavours for the rest of the season. 

‘Man of the Match’ once again was a very difficult one to call, as Lewis Lodge, Kieran Phillips and Elijah Babalola were all terrific in defence, Mason Smith and Kyle Ajayi won just about everything in the midfield and the offensive threat was delivered by the talented foursome of Adam Hughes, Aaron Hudson, Charlie Parker and Ivan Nsimbi. However, it was summed up by the Biggleswade Town management team who described Charlie Parker as simply ‘Unplayable’. He scored 2 well taken goals and expertly set up the third for his strike partner Ivan Nsimbi, but it was his desire and will to win that made him stand out. His work rate is incredible and he rightly deserved the ‘Man of the Match’ award.

Sunday 28 February 2016

AFC Dunstable Defeat Previously Unbeaten Biggleswade Town

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 1 v 0 Biggleswade Town U16 EJA

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA played their first league game since before Christmas and their first match of any kind since 31st January; however, the way they flew out of the blocks against a previously unbeaten Biggleswade Town U16 EJA you would never have known it. Right from the kick off they forced Biggleswade onto the back foot to win a corner. Adam Hughes took it and, as per usual, delivered a cross of the highest quality which Dean Bruton attacked to hammer a bullet header into the back of the net and give the ‘ODs’ the lead after just 20 seconds of play. Not wishing to rest on their laurels, they continued to work hard and press their opponents into mistakes with their endeavour and desire. The back line of Kieran Phillips, Ben Collinge, Elijah Babalola and Kyle Ajayi were superb in forcing their opposite numbers backwards and protect Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal. They were ably supported by Mason Smith, who has not been able to train for a number of weeks since contracting glandular fever, whose desire to win every single challenge he found himself in spurred on those around him to do the same. Up front, Charlie Parker and Ertone Bomolo were also both working hard together to harry and hustle the Biggleswade back line and force them into uncharacteristic errors. But the real battle was in the middle of the park where skipper Adam Hughes and wide men Aaron Hudson and Dean Bruton were also magnificent in forcing their opposite numbers to rush their passes and subsequently surrender any possession they had. With chances few and far between, the half drew to a close with AFC Dunstable ably protecting their slender lead.

During the break, the Biggleswade Town management team made their players fully aware of the need to up their work rate to match their hosts; however, the ‘ODs’ management team had also reminded their players that the game was only half way through and to expect a backlash from their unbeaten opponents. And they were not to be disappointed, as Biggleswade Town came out for the second half determined to preserve their unbeaten record and constantly forced AFC Dunstable on to the back foot. The hard working Mason Smith continued where he had left off and was masterful in protecting the ‘ODs’ lead just in front of the resolute AFC Dunstable defence. When chances did come for the ‘Waders’, they found Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal in their way and he kept his goal in tact with some unbelievable saves. Mid-way through the half, Biggleswade Town were given an ideal opportunity to level the scores when the tricky Robbie Buchanan was brought down in the box to earn his side a penalty. This was well struck towards the bottom right hand corner of the ‘ODs’ goal, but somehow, Dan Gould read the penalty taker’s intention and flung himself full length to save the spot kick; yet another world class save to add to his growing list. The hard working AFC Dunstable players continued to show the desire to hold on to their lead and also kept reminding Biggleswade of their ability in attack by creating a number of half chances of their own, which they were unable to capitalise on. Kai Reilly was brought on after 65 minutes to replace Mason Smith who had heroically worked himself into the ground in his first game back from illness. He was quite rightly applauded off the pitch by everyone in attendance who recognised the effort he had put in for his team mates. Kieran Phillips had taken a knock and was professional enough to recognise that he didn’t want to let his team mates down by trying to continue, so was replaced by Ivan Nsimbi forcing a re-shuffle in the ‘ODs’ back line, with Ertone Bomolo moving from up front to centre back and Ben Collinge sliding across to right back. The game then took a turn for the worse when Kai Reilly reacted badly to being shoved off the ball. This then led to a melee involving all players and substitutes that took the referee and both management teams a number of minutes to get under control. The referee had no option to send off Kai Reilly and also showed a red card to Dean Bruton and Biggleswade substitute Rob Banks for their part in the ensuing melee. Now down to 9 men and still facing 11 Biggleswade Town players, it really was ‘all hands to the pump’ for the ‘ODs’, but with yet another quick re-shuffle to set up in a 4-2-1-1 formation and with the desire they had shown for the previous 75 minutes they managed to hang on for a well-deserved victory.

Biggleswade Town were humble in defeat despite losing their first game since April last year, which was a tremendous testament to their character. So many quality performances by the AFC Dunstable players made the award of ‘Man of the Match’ difficult. Mason Smith was imperious in front of his back four, Adam Hughes, Charlie Parker and Ertone Bomolo all worked their socks off and the busy Ivan Nsimbi up front on his own for the final 10 minutes of the match managed to keep the Biggleswade defence occupied enough to deter them from all pushing forward in search of an equaliser. Despite the number of potential winners, the ‘Man of the Match’ award deservedly went to Dan Gould. This match report cannot be completed without mentioning the final act of defiance by Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal, which came right on full time. From a corner, the ball fell invitingly at the feet of a Biggleswade attacker and he rifled a shot goal wards. This took a wicked deflection off the on-rushing Ertone Bomolo, but somehow, Dan Gould managed to adjust his position and tip the goal bound shot over the bar. Dan Gould has made a number of saves of the highest quality over the years since being involved in this side, but this one was truly ‘World Class’ and was enthusiastically applauded by everyone, including the very sporting opposition management team, who recognised that this was a quality piece of play and allowed the game to finish with football as the overall winner rather than the unsavoury acts that had threatened to spoil the occasion. Next week these 2 teams meet again at the home of Biggleswade Town in the semi-final of the Bedfordshire Youth County Cup in a game that promises to be one of the highest quality from these 2 sides full of extremely talented young footballers.

Sunday 31 January 2016

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA Suffer Narrow Defeat in Cup Quarter Final

Ampthill Town U16 EJA 1 v 0 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

AFC Dunstable were unable to proceed into semi-final of the Eastern Junior Alliance Chairman’s Cup after being narrowly beaten by a well organised and talented Ampthill Town side. The ‘ODs’ started extremely slowly, allowing Ampthill to get a firm foothold in the game right from the off. Their usual fast, accurate passing had deserted them, as time after time they gave the ball away, either due to poor ball control or more usually by wayward passes. Once again, the bad habit of missing out the midfield by looking for the glory 40-yard ball over the top was evident despite the pleading of the AFC Dunstable management team to stay true to their DNA and play a short, fast moving passing game. After 15 minutes of near constant pressure by Ampthill Town, the ball fell nicely to their impressive central midfielder on the edge of the box and he expertly drove the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the AFC Dunstable net. The half continued in much the same vein, with the ‘ODs’ guilty of surrendering possession far too easily; however, they were able to defend against the many Ampthill Town attacks that came from this to keep the score line at 1-0 as half time arrived.

It was obvious right from the start of the 2nd half that the AFC Dunstable players had taken on board the comments made to them at half time. They were acutely aware that their first half performance was their worst in a very long time and seemed determined to put it right. Constantly driven on from the base of midfield by the ever impressive Lewis Lodge, the ‘ODs’ had far more of the ball and were retaining it with the sort of high quality passing that they know they are capable of. Ben Collinge was ever willing at right back to force his opposite number back with his desire to get ahead of the ball and both Adam Hughes and Aidan Fennelly kept AFC Dunstable on the front foot. Midway through the 2nd period, Dean Bruton was introduced to the fray with the instruction to get at the Ampthill Town defence with his clever footwork and ability to burst past opposition players. Shortly after this, the final throw of the dice was made when Cameron Veazey was introduced up front with the ‘ODs’ reverting to a 3-4-3 formation to try and force the equaliser that their 2nd half performance deserved. A much improved performance by Ertone Bomolo at the heart of the AFC Dunstable defence in the 2nd period allowed him, Elijah Babalola and Kyle Ajayi to keep any breakaway attacks from Ampthill Town at bay. Telmo Jesus was also introduced in an attempt to get back on level terms; however, the Ampthill Town defence were expertly keeping the ‘ODs’ attackers in check. Despite having the lion’s share of possession in the 2nd half, the Ampthill Town ‘keeper was rarely troubled and the game drew to a close with Ampthill Town deservedly claiming a narrow victory to advance into the semi-final.

A disappointing first half performance and overall result was mainly overcome by the response of the AFC Dunstable players in the 2nd half. Their approach play in this period was of the highest quality, but they just could not break down a resolute and efficient Ampthill Town defence to get the breakthrough they so desperately sought. Attempts now need to be made to resolve a recurring issue of starting slowly and then resorting to a long ball game that just does not suit or justify the quality these lads possess. The positives were there for all to see with the vastly improved 2nd half performance and this is what will be taken forward to focus on for the remainder of the season. Congratulations to Ampthill Town and the very best of luck to them in the semi-final, they thoroughly deserved their victory and we look forward to meeting up with them in the league later on this year. Adam Hughes worked tirelessly in the AFC Dunstable midfield to try and find a breakthrough, as did Charlie Parker and Ivan Nsimbi, who despite being starved of service, particularly in the first half, both worked extremely hard up front to try and unsettle the Ampthill Town defence. However, ‘Man of the Match’ today went to the ‘ODs’ skipper Lewis Lodge. He was pivotal at the base of the AFC Dunstable midfield and his desire to drive his team mates on in their endeavours to get back on level terms was a fine example of just what a positive influence he can be as captain of this squad of players, well done Lewis!

Sunday 24 January 2016

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA March into the County Cup Semi-Final

Arlesey Town U16 1 v 3 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

AFC Dunstable were welcomed to the Armadillo Stadium to play their County Cup ¼ final tie at the home of Arlesey Town under floodlights. Despite the recent bad weather and a National Sunday League tie having been played just before this match, the pitch had held up remarkably well. From the kick off, Arlesey Town were faster out of blocks and for 5 minutes the game was played predominantly in the AFC Dunstable half; however, after 5 minutes, a quick break saw the on fire Charlie Parker leave the Arlesey Town defence in his wake and the end result was never in doubt as he smashed the ball home from 15 yards to give the ‘ODs’ the lead against the run of play. This did little to deter the hosts as they showed their opponents that they were not here just to make up the numbers with a fully committed first half performance. For long periods of the half, the ‘ODs’ struggled to impose their fast moving passing game on the home side due to the higher workload of the Arlesey Town players. Mid way through the first half, the hosts were almost back on level terms, but they were denied by a quite brilliant save by Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal. Not to be out done, the home ‘keeper also pulled off a brilliant save to deny Adam Hughes a goal when his fantastic 35 yard free kick seemed destined for the top corner, but the half drew to a close without further score.

The ‘ODs’ were sent out for the second half with instructions to at least match the workload of their opponents and to shorten their game up, as on occasion, they were guilty of missing out the middle third in the first half. Adam Hughes, Aidan Fennelly and Ronan Sam took the advice well and started to dominate in the middle of the park. Up front, the hustle and bustle of Charlie Parker and clever hold up play by Telmo Jesus were allowing AFC Dunstable to manage the game far better and midway through the second period, a great move down the right involving Dean Bruton and Ben Collinge freed Telmo Jesus and his endeavour allowed for the ball to fall nicely for Charlie Parker to notch his and the ‘ODs’ second. Unfortunately, Telmo Jesus’ efforts resulted in him taking a knock that he was unable to shake off; however, this allowed for the lively Ivan Nsimbi to enter the fray. His clever footwork gave the Arlesey defence all manner of problems and this together with his clever movement only added to the challenge for the home defenders. Arlesey Town refused to lie down and forced a number of corners as they pressed AFC Dunstable back in their efforts to gain a foothold back in the game. Following one of these corners, the ball fell nicely for the Arlesey Town centre back and he expertly volleyed it home to bring the game back to life. For the next 5 minutes or so, the ‘ODs’ back line of Ben Collinge, Elijah Babalola, Ertone Bomolo and Kyle Ajayi were put under enormous pressure, but they held firm. Into the last 10 minutes, and the game was finally settled when Ben Collinge raced away down the right flank and managed to loop the ball over the top of the Arlesey Town custodian to make the score 3-1 in favour of the ‘ODs’.

A fantastic game full of high quality football from both sides. Arlesey Town worked their socks off for each other and were very much in the cup tie right up until the last 10 minutes. AFC Dunstable have played better; however, the came up against an opponent that showed them just what can be achieved if you are prepared to work hard. An improved second half performance got the ‘ODs’ over the line and they can now look forward to a County Cup semi-final tie in the near future. Good performances today from Adam Hughes, Aidan Fennelly and Ronan Sam in the AFC Dunstable midfield, Ertone Bomolo was impressive at centre back alongside Elijah Babalola and Telmo Jesus had a superb game upfront before unfortunately being forced off with injury. However, for the second game on the trot, Charlie Parker got the ‘Man of the Match’ award after an all action display was coupled with 2 more goals as he continued his hot streak in front of goal.

Sunday 03 January 2016

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA Complete Convincing Cup Win

Barkingside U16 EJA 0 v 4 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

A long trip to Chigwell in Essex to take part in the 2nd round of the Chairman's Cup against a strong Barkingside team who are riding high in the Essex division of the EJA. The game was a major doubt due to the awful condition of the pitch; however, the distances travelled by the AFC Dunstable players and supporters was factored into the referee's correct decision to play the game. The first 10 minutes was pretty much one way traffic, as Barkingside showed that home advantage was key as they used their knowledge of playing on this type of surface. However, once the 'ODs' quite literally found their feet, they started to move the ball around swiftly to reduce the chances of the ball getting bogged down. Barkingside were also very much still in the game and almost took the lead after a good move down their right-hand side led to a scramble in the 18 yard box which was cleared after agood save by Dan Gould and a couple of brave blocks by the new centre back partnership of Captain Lewis Lodge and the physically strong Ertone Bomolo. A couple of half chances for AFC Dunstable were saved by the home 'keeper and then a further scare when Barkingside broke swiftly and played in their clever centre forward whose shot across the goal looked like it was going to nestle in the far corner were it not for a fantastic finger tip save by Dan Gould to deflect the ball on to the post and away to safety. Shortly before half time and the Barkingside right back lost his head after being pressured near his own goal by Kai Reilly. A few words between the pair were exchanged before the referee was forced to intervene and send off the Barkingside player after he raised his hands and shoved Kai Reilly forcibly away.

Half time finished 0-0; however, the 'ODs' were sent out with instructions to continue their excellent work rate across the pitch, but more importantly maintain the high tempo passing game they had used to fantastic effect in the first half, as this was the best way to tire out their opponents who were now down to 10 men.

They followed these directions to the letter, as right from the kick off, both Charlie Parker and Ivan Nsimbi pressured the Barkingside midfielders to move the ball backwards and then continued their hard work to force a mistake from the centre back and allow Charlie Parker to coolly dispatch the ball into the corner of the net to give AFC Dunstable a deserved 1-0 lead. Shortly after this, a fantastic passing move involving Kyle Ajayi in the heart of the 'ODs' midfield and Ben Collinge at right back released Dean Bruton and his pin point pass dissected the Barkingside defence allowing Charlie Parker to get his and AFC Dunstable's 2nd. It was all one way traffic now with the 'ODs' moving the ball confidently from right to left and back to front. A lot of work has taken place in training on making each of the players comfortable on the ball to allow it to be played out from the 'keeper to his defenders and then to move the ball efficiently, but with the required patience, up the pitch. This work is paying off, as despite the atrocious condition of the pitch, the quality of the 'ODs' passing game was superb. From one of many sweeping moves down the AFC Dunstable left flank, Aaron Hudson, who is really sparking up an excellent partnership with his left back Kai Reilly, the pair of them worked the ball into the attacking third before setting the ball back to the ever willing Adam Hughes to release Charlie Parker for him to complete his hat-trick. A fantastic individual performance by Charlie Parker, who is improving with every game and he was given a well deserved round of applause as he made way for Telmo Jesus mid-way through the second half. Shortly after this, AFC Dunstable were able to introduce and welcome back Ronan Sam, who has had a terrible run of luck with a persistent injury for the last few months. It was so good to witness once again his fantastic close control and ball skills after being without him for most of this season. The game was wrapped up with 10 minutes remaining when Telmo Jesus unselfishly laid the ball back into the path of his strike partner Ivan Nsimbi for him to score a goal that his work rate, both on and off the ball, thoroughly deserved.

An absolutely first class performance to beat a high quality Barkingside team on a mud bath of a pitch. The extra man told in the end leading to the 4-0 score line; however, the AFC Dunstable lads have had a run of disappointments recently, but the team spirit and togetherness they are showing is really starting to pay dividends. Special mention needs to go to a number of individuals today; Kyle Ajayi and Adam Hughes were fantastic in midfield, Kai Reilly made numerous overlapping runs at the right time to stretch the Barkingside defence and Ivan Nsimbi worked tirelessly and unselfishly up front to cause all manner of problems for the opposition defence, but hat-trick hero Charlie Parker just nicked the 'Man of the Match' award for his excelled running lines and cool finishing, an excellent all round effort up front.

Sunday 20 December 2015

Superb Performance Unfortunately Doesn’t Yield Reward

Broxbourne Borough U16 2 v 0 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

AFC Dunstable were hosted by the EJA champions of the last 2 years and put in a performance full of endeavour and commitment that deserved so much more. A number of players had pulled out of this fixture in the week leading up to the game for varying reasons and 3 further players woke up on the morning of the game in no fit state to play. However, full credit goes to Ben Collinge who dragged himself out of his sick bed and Dean Bruton who could hardly move due to straining his back overnight. Both of these lads showed commendable character to help out their team mates when they realised they were needed. This was further exemplified by Dean Bruton who, despite only being 60% fit, would not allow the management team to play him as he felt that none of his team-mates deserved to be taken from the field of play due to the amount of work they were putting in for each other. Sometimes, it is these qualities over and above any bit of individual brilliance on the pitch that makes coaching this group of lads one of the most rewarding past-times there are.

The team were sent out with some detailed tactical instructions that the management team wanted to bring into play as part of the boys development and they followed these instructions to the letter showing football intelligence well beyond their years. Broxbourne Borough are a fantastic footballing side and it is no surprise that they are the reigning champions. What is nice though is that they play football the right way, constantly probing for the right opportunity to play the right pass and trusting each other to play the right pass at the right time. To counter this, AFC Dunstable needed to work hard and keep their discipline and for long periods, they not only did this, but also showed that they were not here to make up the numbers with some lovely passing moves of their own to put Broxbourne Borough on the back foot. After 25 minutes, one of the Broxbourne Borough midfielders played a glorious reverse pass to release his team mate down the right-hand side of the pitch and his pin-point cross was converted from 6 yards by their impressive striker.

At half time, the AFC Dunstable management team told the lads just how impressed they were with their individual and collective performance and work rate. They were still in this game and were sent out with similar instructions to work hard to close the spaces on the pitch and then win the ball back for a counter attack. Once again, the ‘ODs’ followed their instructions to the letter and would not bow down against opposition that were making them work hard and were using their full complement of 5 substitutes to rest key players at key moments of the game. AFC Dunstable unfortunately had no such luxury to rest anybody, but manfully pressed for what would have been a well-deserved equaliser. They forced a number of corners with their quick fire counter-attacking play and it seemed only a matter of time before the equaliser would come; however, the ability to give key players a breather and then bring them back on for the final 10-15 minutes would tell as, from one of the AFC Dunstable corners, Broxbourne Borough broke away and had the freshness in their legs to grab their all-important second goal to kill the game off for the ‘ODs’.

The spirit in the dressing room after this game was a pleasure to witness and an outsider would have thought this was the victorious side. The lads realised just how well they had performed and how hard they had worked for each other against the steepest of odds. Almost impossible to select a ‘Man of the Match’ due to the sheer endeavour from all of the lads. Ben Collinge and Dean Bruton deserve a special mention for just turning up, fantastic effort by the pair of them. Kyle Ajayi, Aidan Fennelly and Aaron Hudson worked their socks off in the middle of the park, Charlie Parker, Telmo Jesus and Ivan Nsimbi caused all manner of problems for the talented Broxbourne Borough defence and ‘keeper Dan Gould was superb when called upon, ably protected by skipper Lewis Lodge and Kai Reilly to form a solid back four with Ben Collinge and ‘Man of the Match’ Mason Smith. Asked to play out of position, Mason did not miss a tackle or header all game and even brought the ball out of defence into the middle third of the pitch on occasion to assist his midfield colleagues. A quite phenomenal performance full of endeavour by a group of lads that proved to each other that team work and a formidable desire to help each other out is more important than individual glory. The only thing missing from today was a point from the game that was fully deserved.

Sunday 06 December 2015

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA Cruise into the County Cup Quarter Finals

AFC Dunstable EJA 12 v 0 Dunstable Lions 

AFC Dunstable cruised past their opponents from the Chiltern Youth League Division One with a footballing performance of the highest quality. The game started with AFC on the front foot, constantly probing for an opportunity to make the breakthrough. However, for some of the first 20 minutes of the match, they were over complicating things and often looking for a 30 yard ball over the top which is not their style. After starting to listen to the encouragement from the management team to trust their footballing ability and shorten the game up, the spaces started to appear as Dunstable Lions were pulled all over the pitch in their efforts to contain the ‘ODs’. After 22 minutes, A delightful move down the AFC left led to Charlie Parker supplying the killer ball into Adam Hughes who made no mistake to give AFC the lead. Two minutes later and the lead was doubled after a move involving Dean Bruton, the over lapping Kieran Phillips at right full back and finally Ivan Nsimbi to claim an assist for Charlie Parker to score from close range. A minute later and it was 3-0 when Kyle Ajayi fed Charlie Parker and he made no mistake from the edge of the box with a glorious strike. Then for the individual goal of the game from the ever willing Kieran Phillips down the right flank. His energy to get beyond his opposite number often goes unnoticed, but on this occasion he linked up well with Aidan Fennelly and Dean Bruton to get around his man and then put in a devilish cross towards the far post that drifted in the wind over the top of the Dunstable Lions’ ‘keeper and finally dropped into the far corner of the net to put AFC 4-0 up. Right on half time and this time it was AFC Dunstable’s left flank that caused the problems for Dunstable Lions when Kai Reilly at left full back linked well with Adam Hughes who then unselfishly squared the ball when he could have scored himself for Ivan Nsimbi to notch his second and AFC’s 5thof the game. 

Into the second half and the ‘ODs’ were sent out with clear direction to give the opposition the respect they deserve and not take their foot off the gas. For 10 minutes or so, Dunstable Lions, now playing with the wind at their backs, had their best spell of the game; however, the AFC defensive back line of Kieran Phillips, Elijah Babalola, Ertone Bomolo and Kai Reilly ensured that Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal was untroubled. After this period the status quo resumed with Aidan Fennelly in the heart of the AFC Dunstable midfield starting to pull the strings with his intelligent use of the ball. From one of these passes, he released Ivan Nsimbi to score his second and then 5 minutes later, the exact same combination led to Ivan Nsimbi completing a quick fire hat-trick to put AFC Dunstable 7-0 up. Then it was Dean Bruton’s turn to get on the score sheet when he was set up by Adam Hughes for his first and then linked with the ever- supporting Kieran Phillips down the right flank on 3 or 4 occasions before the pair of them worked their way into the 18 yard box for Kieran Phillips to finally set Dean Bruton up with an easy finish for 9-0. Ten minutes later and it was 10-0 when Aidan Fennelly played in Adam Hughes for him to notch his second of the day and then it was the turn of Charlie Parker to complete his hat-trick with a goal all of his own making from the edge of the box with an unstoppable shot. The final goal of the game was scored when a delightful cross field pass into the path of the marauding Kieran Phillips, who showed fantastic energy levels to run fully 60 yards at pace late in the game and then cleverly hook the ball over his shoulder right on the bye-line into the path of Adam Hughes for him to become the 3rd AFC player to score a hat-trick to give a final score of 12-0.

The performance by this AFC Dunstable U16 EJA side was a joy to watch, as they completely over run their opponents with clever interaction and support play. Aidan Fennelly was sublime in the middle of the park, constantly playing little probing passes to move around and unsettle the Dunstable Lions. Adam Hughes put in a real Captain’s performance with a hat-trick and a couple of assists and Ivan Nsimbi showed his prowess in front of goal to notch a quick fire hat-trick. Charlie Parker was unplayable upfront to also score a hat-trick; he really has settled well into this team and his performances are now displaying the undoubted talent he has. However, both the management team and parents were unanimous in their ‘Man of the Match’. Kieran Phillips was given a start today to see if he could react to having played second fiddle to Ben Collinge for large parts of the season and my did he show a positive reaction! Dunstable Lions did not know how to cope with his lung bursting runs to overlap their defence and today he also had an end product with 2 assists and the goal of the game. His link up play was first class and he was also on hand to defend his corner when called upon. An absolutely first class performance from him coupled with unbelievable energy levels in amongst a team of high quality performers today.

Sunday 22 November 2015

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 0 v 4 Hoddesdon Town U16 EJA

AFC Dunstable welcomed Hoddesdon Town to Creasey Park on a crisp November morning in what promised to be a football match of the highest quality. The ‘OD’s’ were well aware that they had a tough match on as Hoddesdon Town had started the season well and were known for their good quality football. The game started at a breath-taking pace with both sides playing top quality football; however, Hoddesdon made the early breakthrough when a shot from the edge of the area somehow made it through a sea of legs to nestle in the corner of the net. Really unlucky to concede, AFC Dunstable continued to press and nearly equalised when, after a sustained period of pressure, Kai Reilly’s shot from 25 yards just went the wrong side of the post. Shortly after this, Lewis Lodge was caught in possession on the edge of the AFC Dunstable box due to being let down by his team mates not moving into a position to receive a pass from him and the Hoddesdon Town striker was left with a routine finish to make the score line 2-0.

For the remainder of the half, the game continued in the same vein with Hoddesdon Town now able to sit back and protect their lead. Into the second half and a change in formation and personnel by AFC Dunstable led to them enjoying their best spell of the match. Charlie Parker and Ivan Nsimbi were working tirelessly upfront and they were ably supported by Dean Bruton, Aaron Hudson, Kyle Ajayi and Mason Smith in midfield. Unfortunately, yet another defensive mix up led to Hoddesdon converting their third goal as Jack Ecott, chasing a bouncing ball back towards his own goal, looked to safely head the ball back to Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal; however, Dan had made the decision to rush off his line leaving the Hoddesdon Town striker the easiest of conversions into an empty net. Further changes freshened things up as Brandon East came on for Mason Smith, who was suffering with an injury that the AFC Dunstable management did not want to risk further, and Elijah Babalola replacing Jack Ecott at centre back. Both of these additions were very quickly into their stride with Brandon pressing enthusiastically and having a real impact in the centre of the park and Elijah winning some vital headers. The fourth goal was courtesy of some fantastic skill out on the left wing by the Hoddesdon Town winger who bamboozled two defenders before placing a perfect shot into the corner of the AFC Dunstable net to complete the scoring. Ben Collinge and Dean Bruton had run themselves into the ground and were replaced by Kieran Phillips and Aidan Fennelly for the final 15 minutes and both of these additions had a positive impact for AFC Dunstable; however, the damage was done.

Although a disappointing result, some of the play by AFC Dunstable was of a very high standard. Where they were found wanting was with a lack of viable options for the player on the ball when the game is being played at such a frenetic pace. Players need to move into a position to receive the ball much quicker, or the temptation to play long will lead to possession being given up too easily. Aaron Hudson and Dean Bruton were both superb when playing wide in the first half and what was encouraging from both of these players was their willingness to work back and assist their respective full back when possession was lost. Mason Smith and Kyle Ajayi worked tirelessly in the middle of the park, as did Ivan Nsimbi and Charlie Parker up front. Man of the match for AFC Dunstable was a tough one to call; however, the management have asked both Dean Bruton and Aaron Hudson to work harder when they don’t have the ball of late. As such, the award was shared by them both, as the work they put in helping out their respective full back was exemplary, showing that they have both listened to the advice and taken it on board. Congratulations to Hoddesdon Town, they are a top side who were the better of the two teams when it came to supporting the player on the ball and as such, made the most of the chances this created for them.

Sunday 08 November 2015

AFC Dunstable Return to Winning Ways

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 4 v 0 Barton Rovers U16

After the disappointment of their last league outing, AFC Dunstable turned in a high quality performance to return to winning ways against local rivals Barton Rovers. The first 10 minutes were relatively even as both teams tried to establish midfield superiority; however, AFC Dunstable began to take control after the opening exchanges and from that moment on completely dominated their opponents. Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory, they struggled to breakdown a resolute and organised Barton Rovers packed defence. Adam Hughes was all over the pitch using his array of passing to try and exploit any gaps that became available due to the clever movement by the AFC Dunstable front line. Mason Smith, Brandon East and Kyle Ajayi were awesome in the middle of the park allowing Adam Hughes the freedom he needs to play at the top of his game. After 20 minutes, lady luck showed her darker side when Ronan Sam was forced off with an injury. Ten minutes later and she again cast her spell on the unfortunate Kieran Phillips at right back who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken nose after an accidental clash of heads. Really unfortunate for these 2 players who have suffered for minutes of late due to a number of injuries that they seem to be having a real run of bad luck with. We wish them both a speedy recovery. Right on half-time and AFC Dunstable were awarded a free kick from fully 45 yards out. Adam Hughes put in a typical superb delivery that confused the Barton Rovers defence and goalkeeper and was just about to cross the line when it was cheekily converted by Lewis Lodge to give the ‘ODs’ a well-deserved half-time lead.

Determined not to repeat recent slow starts to the second-half, AFC Dunstable came out with all guns blazing. Constantly passing the ball between each other at a high tempo to move the Barton Rovers defence around and create openings for the ever eager runs of Ivan Nsimbi and Telmo Jesus. Kyle Ajayi decided he wanted more of the ball and took off on a mazy run beating 3 or 4 players and, when there was still no opportunity to put a team mate in for a strike on goal, went back and did it all again to the obvious appreciation of the AFC Dunstable substitutes who were heard to state that he seemed to have kept the ball to himself for 5 minutes! Shortly after this, Adam Hughes worked a short corner kick routine with Aaron Hudson, getting the ball back from him before advancing towards the Barton Rovers 18-yard box and unleashing a shot that unfortunately for him cannoned off the angle between post and crossbar before being converted by Lewis Lodge for his and AFC Dunstable’s second of the afternoon.

Any rare attack by Barton Rovers was defused by the hard working midfield of AFC Dunstable and, when Barton Rovers did get through, Jack Ecott and Lewis Lodge were rock solid at centre back, ably supported by Kai Reilly at left back and Brandon East who had been moved to right back after the injury to Kieran Phillips. However, AFC Dunstable were in no mood to surrender their strangle hold on this game and from yet another corner kick, Adam Hughes expertly picked out Ivan Nsimbi who had made a great run to the back post to give the ‘ODs’ a 3-0 lead and a hat-trick of assists for Adam Hughes. There was just enough time for the goal of the game to be scored by Telmo Jesus. Receiving the ball at his feet just inside the Barton Rovers half, he bamboozled his marker with a great piece of skill to turn away down the left wing before using superb individual ability to keep hold of the ball and finally out pacing the Barton Rovers defence to coolly slot the ball into the bottom far corner of the net to give AFC Dunstable a convincing 4-0 victory.

Barton Rovers battled manfully until the end, but were outclassed by a side that were determined to make up for their disappointing performance last time out. There were many outstanding performances by the ‘ODs’ with special mention needing to go to skipper Lewis Lodge who combined his usual all action display with 2 well taken goals. The strike force of a combination of Ivan Nsimbi, Telmo Jesus and Charlie Parker were unplayable at times with their individual hard work and clever runs causing all manner of problems for the Barton Rovers defence. In midfield, Kyle Ajayi and Mason Smith worked tirelessly, but all of this was surpassed by the imperious Adam Hughes. His ability on the ball is well known; however, today he added a bit of steel and an impressive work rate to his game and controlled proceedings from start to finish. The future for this bunch of players is bright and now, knowing that if they apply a high level of work rate to their undoubted technical ability, then results such as the one today will become common place. The proof in the pudding will come next week when they travel to Broxbourne Borough, who have won the Eastern Junior Alliance for the last 2 years running, but if they turn up with the same attitude to work their socks off for each other like they did today, then they will take a lot of stopping. Final words need to go to the unfortunate pairing of Ronan Sam and Kieran Phillips; surely their run of bad luck with injuries is coming to an end. We wish them both a speedy recovery.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Defensive Lapses Prove Undoing of AFC Dunstable

AFC Dunstable 1 v 2 Ampthill Town

AFC Dunstable welcomed near neighbours Ampthill Town to Creasey Park on a lovely autumnal afternoon for what proved to be an encounter of the highest quality, save for just 2 momentary lapses of concentration by the home side that cost them the points. The game started at a high tempo with an abundance of quality on show from both sides. After 10 minutes, AFC Dunstable started to resort to a long ball game, which goes against all their principles and, as such Ampthill started to have more of the game as they continued with the short passing game that the ‘OD’s’ had abandoned. Some words of encouragement from the AFC Dunstable management to get the boys to trust their ability and get back to playing football realigned the sides and made the game a more even affair once again. From about the 25 minute point, AFC Dunstable really started to impose themselves on the Ampthill defence and from one of these attacks, a glorious ball from Ertone Bomolo released Charlie Parker and he maintained his composure to coolly lob the on-rushing Ampthill Town ‘keeper to give AFC Dunstable a well-deserved half time lead.

Into the second half and the high quality football from both of these sides continued without either defence being particularly troubled. Mid-way through the half, AFC Dunstable’s pressing led to them earning a series of corners; however, a lack of desire to attack the incoming ball with intent led to Ampthill Town comfortably being able to clear their lines. From one of these clearances, AFC Dunstable were caught cold as a lack of desire in the opposing box was mirrored on the half way line by the covering defenders, allowing the sole striker to get the flick on and set the on-rushing midfielder clear, after he was not tracked by his opposite number, to place the ball passed Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal for the equaliser. A really disappointing way to concede, with some individual soul-searching required by some of the AFC Dunstable players. This mistake was compounded with just 10 minutes remaining when Ampthill Town were awarded a free kick near the half way line and out on the touchline. From fully 45 yards, the ball was allowed to drift over the top of the AFC Dunstable defence and be met at the far post by one of 3 or 4 unmarked players to convert what proved to be the winning goal. If the first goal was a disappointing one to concede, this one was a disaster!

Having arguably slightly edged the game by way of quality of performance, possession and territory, it was extremely disappointing to lose this game to what amounted to a couple of instances of individuals switching off and not having the desire to carry out the basic principles of football. Both in the attacking and defending third, too many AFC Dunstable players are not willing to stand up and be counted when it matters and, with the quality of the opposition they are facing in this highly competitive league, this will lead to more disappointment if it is not rectified. Despite this, there were a number of good performances by AFC Dunstable players that deserve a mention. Charlie Parker and Telmo Jesus both worked extremely hard up front with Charlie finally being rewarded for his recent efforts with a quality goal to give AFC Dunstable a first half lead. Ben Collinge at right back and Kai Reilly at left back were solid down their respective flanks, both defending one on one and going forward. Aaron Hudson and Dean Bruton both had their best games in an AFC Dunstable shirt, causing all manner of problems for their opposing full backs, but Man of the Match today was stand in skipper Mason Smith. He was an absolute rock in the middle of the park and one of the few players for AFC Dunstable to show the required amount of desire to win the ball when it mattered. Well played Mason and congratulations to Ampthill Town, who made the most of their spells of play to take home all 3 points.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Bishops Stortford 1 v 0 AFC Dunstable

Another Sunday and another away game for the AFC Dunstable U16s; however, progression in the League Challenge Cup was at stake, rather than League points. AFC had been handed a tricky tie in Round 2, away to a team that are currently flying high in their respective EJA League and who boasted an enviable record of played 5 won 5, with 15 goals scored and only 1 conceded. Everybody involved with the group knew it would be a challenge; however, this is precisely the sort of game that prompted the management team to support moving the squad up the footballing ladder. The match started with Stortford on the front foot and a compact AFC Dunstable side was comfortably able to repel the home side’s advances; however, midfield space was at a premium and some observers commented that AFC Dunstable were not offering much up front. A very even and tightly contested game was goalless for around 30 minutes, with neither side working the opposition ‘keeper, when a slightly questionable free-kick was awarded to the home side, just outside the left hand edge of the AFC Dunstable box. Set pieces had been well dealt with by the away defence, despite some intelligent flick on routines which had clearly come straight from the training ground. Stortford set up differently this time and left most of their attacking options on the edge of the box, who then made late runs as the ball was swung in. This caused a bit of mayhem in the congested AFC Dunstable penalty area and a home attacker was somehow able to prod the ball home through a crowd of players for 1-0. This appeared to take a weight off the home side’s shoulders and the game opened up a bit after changes made by both sides. The game however saw no further goals and the 1st half ended 1-0 to Bishops Stortford, but certainly with it all to play for in the 2nd half.

There was no need for any stern words in the AFC half-time huddle, just a reminder that the necessity was on playing quickly and keeping the ball on the floor.  More changes were made prior to the start of the 2nd period, including a switch to a more attacking formation, and an agreement from all concerned that a more expansive game should be played as they looked for an equalizer that might stretch the game in to extra time and possibly even penalties. The changes looked to have improved things however, just as AFC were looking to open things up, perhaps understandably, the home side was looking to close things down and they provided ample evidence of their ability to see out a game without conceding. Sadly, it was on the hour mark before AFC registered their first real attempt on target, a fiercely struck right footed effort from half-time introduction Charlie Parker that appeared to be heading for the top corner, however the diminutive home ‘keeper was expertly able to palm it away to safety. Following this, and somewhat against character, Dunstable took to playing more directly, often missing out their skillful midfield altogether. This did not have the desired effect, as the ball just wouldn’t stick with the away side’s attackers and Stortford always seemed to be able to get a foot in or head away the ball, just as the attack was starting to show promise. The last 20 minutes of the game petered out as the home side regularly needed to tie up their boot laces or seek medical attention and the away side were left speechless by the lack of stoppage time. Perhaps a day then for learning lessons about ‘game management’ and not falling in to the trap of giving the opposition too much respect. Judging by the reaction of the home support at the final whistle, they were very pleased with the result, and so they should be. All at AFC Dunstable wish Bishops Stortford well for the rest of the competition, safe in the knowledge that AFC Dunstable have a talented crop of under 16s who will only improve as they continue to gain invaluable experience at this level of football. A number of contenders for Man 0f the Match; Brandon East came into the side for his energy and work rate and delivered an outstanding performance, Kai Reilly was ever dependable at left back and Telmo Jesus up front kept the defensive centre back partnership busy with his willingness to run the channels in search of a chance. However, Ertone Bomolo was imperious at centre back for AFC Dunstable, not only in defence, but also when bringing the ball out from the back to launch an AFC Dunstable attack. Well done Ertone.

Sunday 04 October 2015

Barton Rovers U16 0 v 7 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

After the disappointment of last weekend, the management were looking for a positive response from the AFC Dunstable U16 EJA side against local rivals Barton Rovers U16, and what a positive response it was! From the off it was obvious that the ‘ODs’ meant business with some lovely football being played at a high tempo to really stretch the Barton Rovers side. Mason Smith, Aidan Fennelly and Lewis Lodge were imperious at the heart of the AFC Dunstable midfield, with Adam Hughes causing all manner of problems with his extensive range of passing. A new attacking partnership of Telmo Jesus and Dean Bruton were working hard to occupy the Barton Rovers defence, but despite their dominance of territory and possession, the breakthrough would not come. Barton Rovers continued to work hard for each other, manfully protecting their goal, but it seemed like it was going to be only a matter of time before AFC Dunstable scored the opening goal. And then, against the run of play, Barton Rovers thought they had taken the lead only to be disappointed to see the referee rule it out for offside. Shortly after this, AFC Dunstable got the goal their play deserved with a strike from fully 30 yards of unbelievable quality from Adam Hughes, an absolutely stunning goal! The ‘ODs’ continued to dominate, but could not increase the score line as the first half drew to a close.

The second half started as the first had finished with AFC Dunstable in the ascendancy; however, yet again against the run of play, Barton Rovers thought they had equalised with the AFC Dunstable management also surprised to see this goal chalked off by the referee for offside. This proved the turning point as AFC Dunstable upped their already impressive levels and very quickly ran away with the game with 2 goals in as many minutes. Firstly, an inch perfect 40 yard pass over the top of the Barton Rovers defence allowed the pacey Aaron Hudson to coolly finish and then soon after, he became the provider when he played in Telmo Jesus who finished comfortably to make the score 3-0. Ivan Nsimbi was then introduced and he very quickly got into his stride, as within 2 minutes of coming on he hit the post from an impossible angle. It was then the turn of Mason Smith to get in on the act with a well worked goal to make it 4-0 to the ‘ODs’ before Ronan Sam was introduced to the fray. He made an instant connection with Ivan Nsimbi by setting him up for 2 quick fire goals to make the score line 6-0 before Ivan Nsimbi wrapped up a hat-trick of sublime quality with a deftly chipped finish to make the final score 7-0 to AFC Dunstable.

A superb performance by AFC Dunstable against a side that they have had some really tough games against in the past. Today however, they were a class apart for Barton Rovers to handle. A midweek team meeting was had last Wednesday evening to clear up some internal issues and my how the lads responded. Special mention needs to go to some of the players who have not been getting the amount of game time they deserve recently. Kieran Phillips was very impressive at right back, as was Jack Ecott at centre back. Kyle Ajayi ably deputised for the ill Kai Reilly and Dean Bruton demonstrated his versatility by having a great game up front before being forced off through injury. Really difficult to select a ‘Man of the Match’, but for a goal that would grace any game at any level, combined with an excellent all round performance with positive communication for his team mates, the honour went to Adam Hughes, absolutely first class effort. Final word needs to go to Barton Rovers who were in the game until just after half time due to their desire to work hard for each other. Had one of the disallowed goals counted, it may well have been a different game. Congratulations lads, but you came up against a rejuvenated side today who were determined to prove a point.

Sunday 27 September 2015

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 0 v 1 Wingate & Finchley U16

A disappointing day at at the office for the AFC Dunstable U16 EJA squad when ill discipline took over and demonstrated just what an impact it can have over a group of lads with unquestionable football talent. Wingate & Finchley were faster out of the blocks and took a deserved 1-0 lead after 10 minutes when a defensive mix up in the AFC Dunstable defence left a man over at the far post who calmly dispatched the ball into the net.

The remainder of the first half was played out with both sides enjoying long spells of possession football without really threatening the opposition goal and so the sides went in at half time with Wingate & Finchley holding on to their slender lead.

Some harsh words in the dressing room and a change in formation to try and get the 'ODs' back on level terms worked for short while until, yet again, ill discipline took over and AFC Dunstable were forced to re-shape the team. On the positive side, it was at this point that AFC Dunstable started to concentrate on doing what they are best at and had the best spell of the game with a number of really good chances unfortunately being wasted. At this level, 2 or 3 one-on-one chances with the goalkeeper need to be dispatched or points will be dropped!

And then disaster struck when, mid-way through the second half, an ambulance had to be called to attend to the unfortunate Wingate & Finchley centre back who had sustained a badly broken wrist after a coming together of 2 players fairly competing for the ball. Our best wishes go out to him as he had had a brilliant game and was instrumental in keeping a clean sheet for his side. We look forward to seeing him back up and running again in the very near future.

With very little time left, AFC Dunstable pressed for an equaliser, but it was not to be. A well deserved victory for Wingate & Finchley; however, the jury is out on just what the scoreline could have been had it not been for a number of AFC Dunstable players losing their focus and letting their team mates down because of it. Much to work on, but luckily not in the technical department.

Final thoughts go out to Toby of Wingate & Finchley, so unlucky to sustain the injury and suffer what was obvious to all a lot of discomfort, we just hope that by the time this is published he is well on the way to recovery!

Sunday 20 September 2015

AFC Dunstable 20 v 0 Biggleswade United

AFC Dunstable welcomed Biggleswade United to Creasey Park for their third Eastern Junior Alliance U16 Herts Division fixture. There had been rumours that Biggleswade were struggling this year; however, AFC Dunstable were sent out with the message that they had to respect the opposition and play this game as they would any other.

The first 25 minutes saw AFC Dunstable play some fantastic one and two touch football to completely blow away their opponents. Goals regularly flowed with Ivan Nsimbi scoring 4, assisted by Kai Reilly, Dean Bruton (twice) and Aaron Hudson followed by a 'Goal of the Season' contender from 25 yards by Telmo Jesus that was unstoppable as it arrowed into the top corner. For the final 20 minutes of the first half, AFC Dunstable lost their team shape, as individuals tried to get on the scoresheet rather than continue playing football and put in a team mate who was perhaps better placed. Aaron Hudson did add to the score line after being put in by Dean Bruton. To make the half time score 6-0.

AFC Dunstable were sent out for the second half with strict instructions to get back to playing as a team and not for personal glory. The message got through and they were ruthless in the second half scoring a further 14 goals. Half time substitute Charlie Parker helped himself to a quick fire hat-trick, as did both Telmo Jesus and Dean Bruton with goals continuing to come thick and fast to leave the final goal tally reading: Charlie Parker: 7, Ivan Nsimbi: 5, Dean Bruton: 3, Telmo Jesus: 3, with one each for Kai Reilly and Aaron Hudson.

A fantastic effort from the 'ODs' with sterling performances from new signing Aaron Hudson, strikers Charlie Parker and Telmo Jesus and Aidan Fennelly who provided the ammunition from midfield, but the 'Man of the Match' was awarded to another new signing Ivan Nsimbi for his sharpness in front of goal linked to his clever movement to run the Biggleswade United defence ragged, a fantastic display!

The final words need to go to our opposition today, as Biggleswade United manfully battled to the end without ever letting their heads drop. They came up against a team at the very top of their game for most of this match, but continued working for each other right to the final whistle, an absolutely superb effort.

Friday 18 September 2015

"AFC Dunstable U16 EJA Crowned 'Joshila' Champions' League Winners!"

Tattenhoe 1 v 1 AFC Dunstable (AET) AFC Dunstable won 4-1 on penalties

The inaugural 'Joshila Champions' League' final was played on Friday night under floodlights at AFC Kempston. This was the compilation of a summer tournament involving the six champions of last seasons league winners from Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. All sides played each other on a round robin basis with the best 2 teams competing in the final. The finalists were Tattenhoe, who won the Milton Keynes and District U15 Division One league and AFC Dunstable who were last seasons unbeaten Champions of the Chiltern Youth League Division One before stepping up to compete in the higher quality Eastern Junior Alliance League this season.

The first half was played at a frenetic pace with the early exchanges fairly even. However, the 'ODs' began to get the measure of their opponents after about 20 minutes. A good move down the right-hand side involving full back Kieran Phillips and debutant Aaron Hudson led to the latter eventually cutting inside onto his favoured left foot and unleashing an unstoppable shot in off the bar to give AFC Dunstable a deserved lead.

Into the second half and the quality of the football by these 2 sides was maintained and the tenacity of the play at times demonstrated just how much both sides wanted to win. Tattenhoe had obviously been fired up by their management at half time and their tackles were flying in, sometimes unfairly! Unfortunately, Kyle Ajayi seemed to lose his cool and was sent off midway through the second half after receiving 2 yellow cards to reduce AFC Dunstable to 10 men.

Shortly after this, Tattenhoe equalised with their first attempt of the game from a deflected free kick from 25 yards, it really seemed as if the Gods were conspiring against AFC Dunstable, but they manfully continued to be the dominant side right to the end of both normal and extra time, demonstrated by the amount of time wasting Tattenhoe carried out as they clung on for penalties.

Not for the first time, Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal was the hero of the hour, saving the first 2 spot kicks. With AFC Dunstable scoring each of their kicks, it was left to the other AFC Dunstable debutant, Ivan Nsimbi, to score the winning penalty to cue wild and thoroughly deserved celebrations.

The whole AFC Dunstable squad deserve praise for their efforts tonight. Some superb football was played by both teams; however, the way the 'ODs' manfully worked for each other and maintained their dominance, even when reduced to 10 men and under severe provocation, was a joy to behold. 'Man of the Match' was a close run affair, but was rightly awarded to Ertone Bomolo who has been moved to centre back recently by the AFC Dunstable management. He won everything in the air and on the floor and had the composure to regularly set his team mates back on the front foot.

Sunday 13 September 2015

Biggleswade Town U16 3 v 1 AFC Dunstable U16 EJA

A real test for AFC Dunstable today, as they were hosted by last season’s Eastern Junior Alliance runners up, Biggleswade Town. The message was a simple one for the lads and that was to work extremely hard for each other and keep things solid for the first 20 - 30 minutes. Unfortunately, after just 3 minutes, some poor defending led to the conceding of a free kick just outside the area and this was expertly converted to give Biggleswade Town an early lead. Still the AFC Dunstable players struggled to get any foothold in the game and, just 2 minutes later, the score line was 2-0 after yet another defensive mix up. Now there was a real test of character to be had and thankfully, the ‘ODs’ woke up and decided that they needed to compete if they were going to get anything out of the game. For the rest of the first half, they at least matched their opponents for desire and commitment and for long periods were the better passing team, but they could not register the goal that would have put them right back in the game.

There were some stern words to be had in the changing room at half-time and, after some honesty between the boys, they continued their response in the early part of the second half, playing some nice inter-changing passing to put Biggleswade on the back foot. All of this effort was wasted after 15 minutes of the second period, when a long punt downfield from the Biggleswade Town ‘keeper was allowed to bounce 2 or 3 times before a wonderful strike from outside the box passed the exposed Dan Gould in the AFC Dunstable goal made the score-line 3-0. At this level, mistakes such as the ones that were witnessed today will be punished and AFC Dunstable could have no complaints.

Despite this further set back, what was encouraging to see was the AFC Dunstable players refusing to let their heads drop. They knew this was turning out to be a bad day at the office, but kept probing and were rewarded after 70 minutes when Dean Bruton finished off a nice passing move by lobbing the retreating Biggleswade Town ‘keeper to make the score 3-1. Now it was a different game with attack after attack by AFC Dunstable leading to some, at times, desperate defending by Biggleswade; however, the second goal to set up a grandstand finish just would not come and the game finally petered out to finish with a well-deserved 3-1 victory for Biggleswade Town.

Not too many positives to take from today, but there were a number of the AFC Dunstable players that did not let themselves down. Mason Smith was immense in the heart of midfield, constantly driving forward and winning his midfield battles. Charlie Parker, playing for long periods on his own up front, can also been rightfully proud of his performance. When he concentrates on his football, he is different class. Adam Hughes showed just why the Management had trusted him with the Captain’s armband in the absence of the usual skipper with some responsible injects and high levels of commitment and quality. However, Kai Reilly at left back was justifiably given the ‘Man-of-the-Match’ award for a tenacious performance in defence together with some superb driving runs to support the AFC Dunstable attack. Excellent performance Kai.

If the lessons exposed today are learnt quickly, then today’s performance can be turned into a positive. AFC Dunstable were not out played, but in a lot of areas they were out fought, particularly in the first 20 minutes and that cannot be allowed to happen again. In the company that they are going to be keeping in this league, turning up for a match willing to give your all from the off is a pre-requisite. We need to move on to next week, starting with training on Wednesday evening and followed by a home fixture against Biggleswade United next Sunday morning, showing that we are all prepared to right the wrongs from today’s disappointing performance!

Sunday 06 September 2015

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA 1 v 0 Colney Heath U16

AFC Dunstable U16 EJA played their very first game in the highly competitive Eastern Junior Alliance. The vast majority of this squad were invincible last year after going the whole season unbeaten to win the Chiltern Youth League U15 Division One and League Cup double. However, they knew the step up into the Eastern Junior Alliance was a vast one and that they were going to have to be at their very best to compete. And so it proved, against a resolute and well-organised side who had obviously done their homework and learnt what this side had achieved last season.

AFC Dunstable dominated proceedings enjoying somewhere in the region of 70% possession; however, chances were few and far between. After 15 minutes, an injury to right back Kieran Phillips meant a re-shuffle, with Ben Collinge moving to right back and Jack Ecott coming on to take up his favoured centre back position. After 20 minutes, a well-placed free kick from Adam Hughes deceived the Colney Heath ‘keeper and was met at the far post by Elijah Babalola who should have scored from 6 yards out, but the ball went agonisingly just passed the post. Set pieces were looking the most likely route to a goal for the ‘ODs’ as a number of pin point corner kicks from Adam Hughes were met by AFC Dunstable players, but they all somehow managed to evade the Colney Heath net with their ‘keeper making a number of excellent stops.

Colney Heath also showed that they were capable of matching their opponent’s quality with some nice inter-passing football of their own throughout the half when they managed to gain possession, moving the ball efficiently backwards and forwards across and up the pitch with some lovely passing moves. The management and supporters of both sides were being treated to a game of very high quality by both sides. However, the score remained 0-0 by the time the referee blew for half-time.

The second half started in much the same vein as wave after wave of attacks by AFC Dunstable were met by a strong and well-organised back line of Colney Heath. AFC Dunstable were really turning the screw now and surely it was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken. Ertone Bomolo, Ronan Sam, Aiden Fennelly and Brandon East were introduced at various points throughout the second half to add their own individual skill sets to the game and it was pleasing for the AFC Dunstable management team to note that there was no drop in the quality of their team’s football despite these changes.

With the game looking very much like it was going to end in a stalemate, the best piece of football in the match changed all that. In a move involving 6 or 7 of the AFC Dunstable side passing the ball between themselves with one and two touches finally created the space for Mason Smith to play the over-lapping Ben Collinge in down the right-hand flank and his driven cross was met at the near post by Lewis Lodge to finally breach the stubborn Colney Heath defence and put the ‘ODs’ 1-0 up. An absolutely fantastic piece of quality football was rightly rewarded with the winning goal. So nice to see the opposition parents and management team also applauding as they realised they had witnessed a team goal of the very highest quality.

So the game came to a conclusion with AFC Dunstable deservedly claiming the 3 points; however, if the players didn’t know it before, they now do know that this league is going to be a very different affair to what they have been used to over the past few years. Colney Heath provided excellent opposition and were a credit to themselves, their management team and their parents. We look forward to meeting them later in the season. So many excellent performances today, only marred by the early ankle injury to Kieran Phillips; however, he is expected to be fit again in 2 to 3 weeks, so thankfully, no major damage done. Man-of-the-match was difficult to choose; however, Ben Collinge got the nod for not only his strong defensive performance, but more impressively, the attacking threat he posed from right back with his energy and drive to constantly overlap. A superb performance on his AFC Dunstable debut with an assist for the winning goal to wrap up a perfect day for him.

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