10th January. AFC Dunstable 3 Kings Langley 0
A very solid performance from AFC, closed the gap on leaders Kings Langley as they fully deserved all 3 points. Having defeated their opponents back in September, that is the double AFC have achieved over the team favourites for the title. Before the game, AFC were 7 points behind Langley, so a defeat was not an option, as a 10 point gap would have been a massive one to close.
AFC welcomed back Newman Carney at left back, so Jamie Warne moved up to his regular position on the left wing. Taishan Griffith was the unlucky person who dropped to the bench. It was also good to see the return of Jimmy Hartley in the squad along with Leon Simpson, who have both recovered from their injuries.
Kings Langley came to Creasey Park having scored 62 goals in the league so far this season. In their ranks was 20 goal Alex Campana, so the AFC defence knew they were up against it. Expecting the leaders to come flying out of the blocks, AFC quelled any advances. With the visitors defence having only conceded 19 goals, Chris Francis and Jermaine Hall had to step up to the mark and they did.
Francis opened the scoring for AFC on 11 minutes. His never say die attitude repaid him, when he chased what seemed a lost cause. He turned the Langley back line inside out to finish coolly with a curling strike. With ex AFC Lee Burgoyne in the opponents line up, he wanted to make sure the AFC midfield knew he was about. A late tackle by him on Moses Olaleye saw him pick up a yellow card.
The AFC back four still kept the dangerous Langley front line in check, as Campana was feeding on scraps. They continued to control the midfield and stretched their lead on 36 minutes. Another dangerous free kick from Carney, caused all types of problems for Langley and Hall was on hand to poke the ball home. The visitors chances of getting anything out of the game ended on 42 minutes, when Burgoyne once again took out Olaleye. A 2nd yellow card was shown and off he went.
With half time approaching, the game was put to bed, when Hall escaped the close attention of Stuart Deaton to slot the ball home.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 3 Kings Langley 0
The 2nd half opened with Kings Langley having nothing to lose. They started to ask more questions but it seemed AFC took their foot off the gas for the first 10 minutes. Normal service was soon resumed, as they started to settle back into a solid routine. Louis Porcelli in the AFC goal had to field a long range shot and when a strike hit the top of the bar, the leaders could not break down the home defence.
With the game drawing to an end, Hall had the chance to complete his hat trick but fired over the crossbar. Sub Enzo Silvestri even could have extended AFC's lead, when he had a flick shot cleared off the line. So a very good 1st half performance, followed by a solid one in the 2nd half, AFC closed the gap and moved up to 4th place.
AFC boss Steve Heath was happy with the application the team showed saying " I knew Kings Langley have a very dangerous forward line, so we worked on it in training to keep them quiet. Also getting down the side of them would create chances for us, as I have had them watched quite a lot recently" he continued " the management of Kings told me, we are the first team to make them look ordinary today, which I took as a compliment. Beating a side that has scored 62 goals in the league is a great coup for our defenders. Also on the other hand they are very tight at the back, having kept 9 clean sheets, so to score 3 today and create quite a few more chances is very pleasing. Look, it is a great result for us but they are still in the box seat and need to be caught. There are still going to be alot of twist and turns in the race for the title, as only half the season has been completed"
Another very tough game awaits AFC on Wednesday, when another title hopeful Hertford Town visit Creasey Park.
AFC Team: Porcelli. Bishop. Carney. Fryer. Cashman. Warne (Mills 78). Cooper (Griffith 88). Bufano. Hall. Olaleye. Francis (Silvestri 83). Subs not used. Hartley. Simpson
Scorers: Francis (11). Hall (36 & 45)
Crime Count. Fryer and Francis (both yellows)