Dorchester Town share the spoils after disappointing Dunstable stalemate

By: Dan Davis – For | @dan_davis20

Dorchester Town 1 Dunstable Town 1

Dorchester Town were held to a 1-1 draw with Dunstable Town at the Avenue Stadium, in a clash between two sides rooted to the lower reaches of the Evo Stik Southern Premier.

Ashley Pope scored on his home debut to hand the Magpies the lead, before a stronger second half performance from Dunstable saw them level through Charlie Black’s superb long-range strike.

Steve Thompson made three changes from Dorchester’s 2-0 defeat at Stratford Town, with both Callum Rose and captain Gary Bowles handed starts after missing out at Knights Lane.

Ed Bastick was also named in the starting line-up, with David Jerrard dropping out of the squad altogether.

Bournemouth loanee Ashley Pope continued to lead the line for Dorchester, a fortnight after his debut strike at Chesham United.

Sol Ayunga was selected among the substitutes, the Magpies’ only other recognised forward after Phil Ormrod’s departure from the Avenue this week.

Dunstable Town travelled to the south coast without a win in five, and their future in the Southern Premier hanging in the balance.

The Blues’ last victory came a month ago, after they surprisingly picked up maximum points against high-flying Weymouth.

But it was Dorchester who started the brighter, looking to continue their solid recent form at the Avenue – having only suffered defeat once at home since the middle of December.

Tom Blair’s free-kick was met by Ross Carmichael at the back post after two minutes, but the centre-half could only glance a header comfortably wide.

The visitors struggled to string together passes in the opening stages and were restricted largely to set pieces, with Dorchester pressing effectively all across the pitch.

Dunstable’s skipper Gedeon Okito thundered a low set-piece into a crowded Magpies’ penalty area, but the delivery was cleared with ease.

In the 11th minute, a superb cross-field switch found Blair on the near side, who breezed past his marker with ease. The wide-man dug out a cross, which was stabbed away from the six-yard box with Ashley Pope poised for a strike.

Experienced shot stopper Chris Weale experienced a quiet opening spell to proceedings, but a loose pass nearly gifted Dunstable the opener.

Weale received the ball back from Archie Collins, and looked to roll it back to the stand in full-back. Andrew Osei-Bonsu quickly closed down and was unfortunate to see the pass ricochet out for a goal kick.

Opposition goalkeeper Will Hunt was finally called into action after 21 minutes. Collins picked up possession just outside the penalty area, and teed up Neil Martin whose powerful drive was comfortably beaten away.

Sam Lanahan was then presented with a sight of goal, after miscommunication between Hunt and his centre-half allowed the Magpies’ attacker space to shoot. However, the Blues’ backline quickly marshalled the effort, and Lanahan was robbed of the ball right at the death.

On the half hour mark, Dorchester should have taken the lead when Blair was played through on goal.

However, Hunt was quick to rush out and narrow the angles before spectacularly tipping the shot away from goal. As Lanahan looked set to tap home the rebound, Daniel Trif slid across and cleared off the line.

The resulting corner was swung in and cleared only as far as Pope, making his home debut for Dorchester. The young striker fired a half-volley towards goal that deflected off Arel Amu and found the back of the net.

The Magpies flooded forward minutes later, immediately looking to add a second.

Centre-half Callum Rose’s marauding run into Dunstable’s final third looked set to carve out another opportunity, but the final pass was lacking and the visitors scrambled away.

In a rare foray from the Blues, Andrew Osei-Bonsu skipped infield past Collins and saw an effort well blocked, before the rebound was sliced comfortably wide.

Collins then had an attempt of his own, but sent a drilled shot narrowly wide of the target.

The home side then won a free-kick 20 yards out after Blair was felled. Neil Martin stepped up, and curled the set-piece just wide of the far corner with Hunt scrambling across his line.

Blues manager Tony McCool made two changes at half-time, introducing Lanre Lapido and Charlie Black in place of Ethan Lamptey and John Sonuga.

Soon after the restart, Dorchester attacked through Luke Winsper. The midfielder looked to dink the ball across the penalty area for the unmarked Lanahan, but the pass was headed away.

Blair’s corner in the 49th minute was then steered out to Pope, who miscued an effort horribly just outside the box.

Despite Dorchester’s bright start to the second period, Dunstable were soon level firmly against the run of play.

The visitors hammered a clearance up field, which substitute Black latched onto inside the Magpies half. And, amid claims for handball, the attacker thundered home a long-distance lob over Weale for the equaliser.

Straight from the restart, Dorchester looked to retake the lead when Blair’s close-range shot was smothered inside the six-yard box with Hunt beaten.

On the hour mark, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist was introduced for his home debut, in place of Bastick.

But despite the attacking change from the home side, it was Dunstable who looked more likely to score again.

Black was unable to make contact with a header at the back post with the goal gaping, and Weale had to be alert to palm over a shot at his near upright.

From the resultant corner, the visitors should have scored their second. Ryan Young exchanged passes with Osei-Bonsu, and delivered for the Blues’ top scorer Arel Amu. But the striker slipped as he looked to back-heel past Weale and Dorchester cleared their lines.

Kiosa was the next Dunstable player to squander a good opportunity, after sending a flicked
header narrowly wide of the far upright.

The Magpies finally broke the visitors’ dominance through Collins’ direct run and cross, which Pope latched onto before firing over the crossbar.

In the 81st minute, Dorchester pumped a long ball forward which Hunt picking up while stood narrowly outside his penalty area. After originally appearing to escape punishment, the shot stopper was shown a yellow card by referee Colin Hubbard.

From the free-kick, Martin’s low ball in was hacked as far as Collins who couldn’t find the target.

As the game entered the closing stages, both sides threw players forward.

Dunstable cleared a Dorchester set-piece, and found themselves bearing down on the home side’s goal with only Winsper back defending. Black opted for goal and fired wide, despite the man in the middle signalling for a corner.

The Magpies cleared, despite the confusion, and released Pope whose final pass was easily intercepted.

There was still time for substitute Sol Ayunga to shoot over the crossbar, in the game’s final chance before the full-time whistle.

Dorchester Town: Weale, Collins, Martin, Rose, Carmichael, Bowles (Lowes), Blair, Winsper, Pope, Lanahan (Ayunga), Bastick (Leigh-Gilchrist)

Subs not used: Brookes, Panesar-Dower

Dunstable Town: Hunt, Kiosa, Okito, Ward, Trif, Ogden, Young, Lamptey (Lapido), Sonuga (Black), Amu, Osei-Bonsu (Williams)

Subs not used: Ward, Collins

ATT: 383

Referee: Colin Hubbard