Dorchester Town battle to victory over the Blues

BY: Phil Spencer – Dorset Echo Sport


A moment of magic from substitute Ollie Bassett inspired a battling victory for the Magpies against Dunstable Town.

The match signalled the beginning of a new phase under manager Craig Laird, who last week admitted that the club were in a relegation battle after not recording a league win since early December.

Monday saw the return to the club for defender Gary Bowles, who was brought in to eradicate the individual errors that have plagued the Magpies defence in recent weeks, only for his appearance to last just over half an hour.

Dorchester’s opposition Dunstable, went into the game sitting comfortably in 13th position in the league, and after an entertaining 3-3 draw with Weymouth midweek, the Magpies boss will have been hoping the fresher legs of his squad could take advantage of the weary blues.

The Magpies made three changes to last week’s side, bringing in Tom Blair and Jason Brookes, while handing a fifth debut to defender Bowles.

Laird also welcomed new signing Ollie Davis, a last minute arrival from Poole Town, who took his place on the bench.

It was the Blues who came out of the blocks quickest, showing pace and attacking intent down the left hand side within the first minute.

Manager Craig Laird took his position in the stand from the start of the game, in order to get a better view of his side’s performance and will have been pleased with the early pressure his side inflicted on Dunstable.

Early crosses from John Vance and Jason Brookes were lofted into the penalty area, but other than a minor fumble it was nothing that the Blues defence couldn’t handle.

Dunstable also posed a mild threat early on as a Vences Bula cross was cleared by a diving header from Nathan Walker.

What followed was a scrappy first half in which the referee’s insistence to stop the game for every minor foul led to a disjointed opening 30 minutes with frustration rising throughout both teams and dug-outs.

A series of bookings followed for either side before a wild miskick from Shane Murphy led to a Dunstable corner to sharply awaken the home side.

The game was further disrupted as Bowles went down with an awkward twist of his ankle, leading to him being stretchered off on his return to the Avenue, and being replaced by Yeovil loanee Ollie Bassett.

As the half drew to a close, Franklyn Clarke’s effort was easily picked up by Smith in the Dunstable goal and with half-time looming, it appeared that the first 45 minutes would be a non-event.

But up stepped substitute Bassett, who dispossessed the Blues skipper and fired a swerving effort into the bottom corner from all of 25 yards to give the Magpies the lead at the break.

Dunstable started the second half the stronger as a Kelvin Bossman effort was blocked in the penalty area by Matt Oldring who had slotted in alongside Walker.

The away side’s threat was coming directly from set pieces, and they went close to equalising on a couple of occasions as Murphy was beaten in the air by the aerial presence of Bossman, who looked a real handful in the area.

It was the visitors who very nearly levelled again as Bossman centred the ball for Bola whose effort bounced off the underside of the bar and off the line, before Danny Talbot had his effort spectacularly saved by the reflexes of Murphy.

Laird then introduced January’s player of the month Ben Wood in place of home debutant Lewis Powell, and Ollie Mehew in place of Tom Blair as the home side looked to keep hold of their lead.

As the game reached the last ten minutes a clearly determined Magpies showed real heart as tempers flared.

Both sides were clearly battling to take control and the referee certainly had his work cut out to keep the peace after a few reckless challenges from Dunstable led to stoppages.

Dunstable continued to press, using the pace of Bola to get in behind Oldring and Walker, but the Magpies looked determined to see the game out.

Dorchester worked on the counter and Bassett had an opportunity from 30 yards to secure the lead but his effort was easily saved by Smith, before his beautifully placed pass just evaded Jordan Williams who was running in at the back post.

But with minutes to play a ball was slotted through to Ollie Mehew who wrapped up the points for the battling the Magpies.

Magpies: Murphy, Brookes, Martin, Vance, Walker (C), Bowles (Bassett 37), Blair (Mehew 73), Oldring, Powell (Wood 68), Clarke, Williams

Subs not used: Nicolson, Davis

Dunstable Town: Smith, Reynolds, Okita, Talbot, Hewitt, Pepra (C), Olukanmi, Bush , Bola, Bossman (Longe King 65), Green

Subs not used: Odofin, Pope, Fontenelle, Head

Referee: Mr Iain Parsons

ATT: 412