The logic of a football fan is often very illogical. For example, given we’ve lost 5 from 6 and have a goal difference of -20, why would I want to spend my afternoon in bloody Dunstable of all places? Well I’m not known for my sanity and it turned out to be a worthwhile trip as we had the rarities of not only a clean sheet, but also a win. Even if we did have to go to Dunstable to see it.
I shall make two things abundantly clear; Dunstable is a shithole and the football team are in a worse state than the town. Famous for being worse than Luton and an EDL hotspot, this is the fourth season in a row we’ve headed here with each game throwing up something almost memorable. A 3-5 win under the newly appointed Jem was marred by a Dunstable player trying to fight Evo in the bar afterwards, Jonah’s last magpies game in a defeat the following season, and Mario hitting the post from half a yard to deny us a point last season. Thankfully this season would be different to the previous two.
As stated, Dunstable are awful. We have been staggeringly poor under Laird (less said about his tenure the better), but with newly appointed Steve Thompson in charge and hopefully that giving us the usual bounce a new manger gives, we were cautiously optimistic. Thompson was the successful candidate from six interviewed,but chairman Matt Lucas was reluctant to tell us the other five. So for the purpose of this blog, Thompson beat Steve Tully, Sam Allardyce, Adam Fricker, Sean Joyce and Ash Jury to get the job. One of more of those candidates might be made up…
As Goddard, The Roth and I were on the way to the surrounds of the Gary Cooper wetherspoons, we were surprised to hear the The General and Berry were stuck in stationary traffic on the M3. Will they and the team arrive in time? Well, the team would as the M3 had been closed since the early hours of the morning and the bus had taken an alternative route because of this. The General and Berry had done no such planning, so despite the road being shut for hours, the drove straight into gridlock. Just imagine the conversation in that car over that 7 hour journey…
So as they debated the price of chips and Bournmouth’s centre back pairing circa 1997, we drank hipster ale cans and guessed at the team in spoons. We were joined by a friend of The Roth and his step farther who live in the area, and the step Dad informed us that not only does Dunstable have an award winning cemetery, but it also has an Aldi. So not only is the a possible business partnership for funeral director and chairman Matt Lucas, but if we’re a couple of squad players short, Aldi is only a short trip away. Har de fucking har.
As we wandered to the ground via the globe pub, which did an excellent line of ales, free apples and had a dart board, cautious optimism from us predicted a win based on no facts whatsoever. But a walk along the magnificently named ‘Stuart Street’ had my mind made up, we’ll win. Upon arrival at the ground, we were reminded just how odd it was (think the Hardye school field with a terrace and less spectators) but saw just how young Dunstable looked. A criticism of us for a couple of seasons has been that we’re lightweight and easily bullied, roles were reversed as we had a team of adults in their actual positions, they were a team of pubescent boys who all ran towards the ball.
We started brightly and could have been one up early, not that Steve and Berry would have known as they arrived ten minutes into the game, but the pattern of us pressing and them dropping deeper was one that would remain for 90 minnutes. Chances came and went with a Lanners header well saved and Ross Carmichael unable to stab in the rebound as well as good crosses not being converted, 0-0 at half time flattered them and had us wanting an early second half goal to settle the nerves.
Thankfully, that’s just what we got. Dunstable’s otherwise impressive keeper decided to call for but then not bother to come for a ball, which allowed the industrious Luke Winsper to square for Lanners to do the rest. 1-0 and from there on we never looked in any danger of conceding. Good saves from Lanners, Storey and a disallowed goal for a not so subtle attempted suplex on the keeper by Jevon to deny Lanners a second (a foul he denied until shown a picture by Lanners in the bar afterwards) could have seen the win by a more comfortable margin, but I’ll take a 1-0 win on the road at face value. 3 points and some much needed confidence.
Again, I cannot reiterate how bad Dunstable were. Steve and I both genuinely thinking that we could have done a job at fullback for them and we wouldn’t have looked out of place, but you can only beat what’s in front of you, and we were good in doing so. Chris Weale won’t get many easier clean sheets, the back four led by Carmichael and Storey won everything in the air and on the ground, Lowes and Winsper controlled the middle and the attacking outlets were a threat all game. Will we play better sides? Of course we fucking will, but this was just the start the new manager needed and the boost the club needed after a rough few weeks. Smiles and a good mood in the bar afterwards told its own story.
It’s the boost we needed ahead of the trip to Farnborough tonight, a game I’ll be at with a few other exiles and we all need to sort our lives out, but hopefully we can kick on from here and look up rather than down. And hopefully for their sake, Steve a Berry check the travel news this time. SV