1st November - AFC Dunstable 2 FC Clacton 0 (FA Vase 1st Round Proper)
Two extra time goals, saw AFC get past a stubborn and well organised FC Clacton side, to progress to the 2nd Round of the FA Vase. Also thrown into the mix, was their keeper Luke Avenell, who pulled off 3 outstanding saves in normal time, with 2 of them coming in the last 5 minutes.
Clacton, who play in the Eastern Counties Premier Division, came to Creasey Park believing they were underdogs. Lying in 8th place, they most definitely did not play like that. You would not have thought they had just had a 3 hour coach journey as well !!
AFC boss Steve Heath made a three changes, with Danny Jones, Josh Humbert and Terry Griffiths coming in and out going Brandon Carney, Roy Byron and Danny Ryan. Also on the bench was new signing Charlie Gorman, who made an appearance late in the game.
The game kicked off in lovely bright autumnal sunshine, unfortunately though the 1st half did not really match the calm conditions provided. Both teams found it hard to create any chances of note. On 22 minutes the visitors Jordan Brazitis had a half chance but screwed his effort wide. 3 minutes later, AFC thought they had taken the lead. From a Newman Carney free kick, Avenell spilled the ball. As he went to gather the rebound, the ball was poked home by Leon Cashman. The referee though deemed Avenell had control of the ball and gave a free kick. AFC had another effort but Humberts shot deflected for a corner.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 0 FC Clacton 0
With Clacton's coach lag starting to fade, they opened up the 2nd half very brightly. They took control of the ball for long periods but just could not force any decent chances. Up the other end a mazy run by Jon Cooper ended up with a strike that just went wide. With the game entering the last 10 minutes, AFC started to rack up the pressure. From a cross from Courtney Massay, it flashed across the Clacton goal and just out of reach of Brandon Carney.
AFC were now going all out to break the deadlock. With Clacton starting to tire, firstly Cashman broke clear but Avenell was quick off his line to deny him. Then in added time, he pulled off a wonderful save at full stretch to keep out BJ Christie's thunderbolt.
That was the final action of the tie in 90 minutes, so into extra time. The home side finally took the lead on 94 minutes and it was route one with a classy finish at the end. Ricky Perks launched the ball down field, Cashman flicked it on and Christie latched onto the ball to lob the advancing Avenell. This seemed to drain some life out of Clacton, so AFC went for the jugular. Within 3 minutes it was 2-0. Again Avenell was involved as he saved a shot from Christie with his leg. Cashman was on hand though to fire the loose ball home. The visitors keeper though was still not finished as he yet again denied AFC.
Into the 2nd period of extra time, from somewhere Clacton found a 2nd wind. Pulling on all their resources, they started putting pressure on the AFC goal. Perks had to make a smart low save from a Charlie Thompson header, then collect a wicked free kick from Kevin Coyle. With the visitors pouring forward, they were open to the counter attack and when Cashman thought he had made it 3-0, the linesman flag denied him.
To the relief of the home support, the referee blew for the end of the tie. Both teams received warm applause as they left the pitch from both set of supporters. It was very pleasing to see the game played in the right spirit.
A drained Steve Heath at the end of the game commented " one thing we did not want was a replay. We would have been severely hampered if we had to make the trip to Clacton on Tuesday night. There was really nothing between the two teams but on chances created I think we just deserved to go through. Their keeper made some top class saves to keep them in the tie, while on the other hand they did start the 2nd half well but without really testing our keeper.
AFC Team: Perks. Massay. N.Carney. Bufano. Griffiths. Jones. Cooper. Olaleye. Christie. Humbert. Cashman. Subs used. B.Carney. Gorman. Byron. Subs not used. Ryan. Griffiths.
Scorers: Christie (94). Cashman (97)