24th January. Hoddesdon Town 1 AFC Dunstable 2
AFC kept on the coat tails of leaders Kings Langley with this win and into the bargain, moved further away from Harefield United, who threw away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to London Colney. It could have been better, as Hertford Town found themselves 3-0 down to Colney Heath at half time. They battled back to take a share of the spoils in a 3-3 thriller.
AFC boss Steve Heath thoughts was to just get the points " the pitch was not up to standard in my opinion. We like to play the ball on the deck and break teams down but the state of the pitch was a great leveler. Some of my players who are extremely comfortable on the ball really struggled today"
Heath welcomed back his 2 forwards Jermaine Hall and Chris Francis to his starting line up but he lost skipper Moses Olaleye at the 11th hour. Francis repaid him with a brace which picked up the 3 points.
The visitors came flying out of the blocks and Taishan Griffith should have given them the lead in the first minute. Great work by Francis set him up 5 yards out but screwed hit shot wide. Francis then had a decent chance but then he made amends when he fired home on 11 minutes.
Hoddesdon, who had a couple of lively forwards drew level with a sublime overhead kick 5 minutes later. This kick started the Lillywhites and they started to see more of the ball. Another great chance came and went as the AFC defence had to dig in again.
Half time: Hoddesdon Town 1 AFC Dunstable 1
With the pitch cutting up really badly, both teams tried there best to contend with it, as it was not conducive to any type of quality football. Even the match officials were finding it hard to keep their feet, the man in the middle slipped to the ground and one of his assistants found the mud twice. As the ball bobbled all over the place, it was like a throw back to 1980's pitches, as the white ball turned brown with mud as the game got older. You felt if any further goals were to come, the pitch would have a hand in it and this was to be. A through ball caught out Hoddesdon's centre half and Francis latched onto the mistake to make it 2-1 on the hour. He could have completed his hat trick minutes later but his thunderbolt of a shot was tipped over the bar.
AFC now knew this lead was to be defended as a another mistake would be costly. As last Saturday at Harefield, the team and especially the defence, came into their own and limited Hoddesdon to not a lot. Both teams cancelled themselves out, as the game drew to a close.
Heath said " in the end, it was a dig in game and just get in and out with the points. We don't realise what a fantastic pitch we have when you see one like that. I know it was the same for both teams, but we are just not used to it. Hopefully we do not come across anymore like that", he continued " they probably feel hard done by today but when we saw the pitch, we knew we were in for a tough game today and had to do a job. We will and can play alot better than that but you have to adapt to the conditions"
AFC Team: Porcelli. Mills. Carney. Fryer. Cashman. Griffith (Cooper 90). Warne (Hartley 74). Bufano. Hall. Francis (Simpson 77). Bishop. Subs not used. Biggadike. Langston.
Scorer: Francis (11 & 60)
Crime count. Bufano (yellow)