14th January. AFC Dunstable 2 Hertford Town 0
After 7 midweek league games, AFC Dunstable finally got the monkey of their backs, as they registered their first win. After 3 defeats and 3 draws, it was lucky 7 that saw them rise to 2nd in the league.
It was 4th against 6th and a chance for AFC to move 6 points clear of Hertford. After bright sunshine all throughout the day, unfortunately the weather forecasters got their report correct, as the wind and rain turned up just in time for kick off.
There was a couple of changes for the home side from the win over Kings Langley on Saturday. Jamie Warne was unavailable so Wayne Mills stepped in. Chris Francis was rested due to a slight knock, so Leon Simpson partnered Jermaine Hall up front.
With the wind swirling all round the pitch and then add the rain, both teams coped pretty well with the conditions and a decent game was delivered. AFC should have taken the lead in the first 5 minutes when Fabio Bufano had a gilt edged chance 5 yards out but put his shot over the bar. Hertford responded straight away as Louis Porcelli had to make a good save.
Hertford started to take a foot hold in midfield and were looking dangerous. They had alot of possession, as AFC were finding it hard to get the ball to their strikers. With the visitors suffering player losses through suspensions and injuries, they showed what a strong squad they have as they continued to threaten.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 0 Hertford Town 0
The bad conditions abated at the start of the 2nd half and when Tegana James struck a sweet shot from 25 yards out, it struck Porcelli's crossbar and flew to safety on 50 minutes. If AFC did not step up the pressure, they knew the visitors would take advantage. The breakthrough happened 10 minutes later, when somehow centre back Leon Cashman found himself on the left wing. His low cross picked out Hall at the far post and he was on hand to slot home.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Hertford. AFC started to see more of the ball, as the visitors started to waste their possession of it. Hall was starting to cause their back line more problems with his movement. With Simpson tiring due to a lack of games, he was replaced by Enzo Silvestri on 70 minutes who would have a eventful 8 minutes on the pitch.
Once again AFC got down the Hertford's left hand side, when skipper Moses Olaleye broke clear and crossed for Silvestri to head home to make it 2-0 with 75 minutes on the clock. Direct from the re start, he committed a foul on the half way line to pick up a yellow card, then 2 minutes later was replaced when he sustained an injury. He was replaced by Taishan Griffith.
Back came the wind and rain and with time drawing to a close, a defence splitting pass by Jonathan Cooper released Griffith. As he bared down on goal, it looked like James tripped him in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. He was called over by his assistant to explain Griffith's had over run the ball and he awarded a goal kick. This was last piece of action as the final whistle went.
After an eventful game AFC manager Steve Heath was full of praise for his team " after the win Saturday, I was a little concerned about tonight as Hertford are a good outfit. It showed their strength in depth, as they had a few influential players out tonight but still caused us problems in the first half. The conditions were appalling for most of the game and we dug in really well and showed great character.
On Saturday all top six teams face each other. AFC travel to 3rd placed Harefield United, leaders Kings Langley make the trip to Sun Sports who occupy 4th place and 5th and 6th Berkhamsted and Hertford Town play at Broadwater.
AFC Team: Porcelli. Bishop. Carney. Fryer. Cashman. Mills. Cooper. Bufano. Hall. Olaleye. Simpson (Silvestri 70.(Griffith 78). Subs not used. Francis. Hartley.
Scorers: Hall (60). Silvestri (75)
Crime Count. Silvestri (Yellow card)