10th January - Histon 2 AFC Dunstable 1
This fixture was never going to end on a positive note for AFC. With the original game at the back end of November that should never had gone ahead due to a frozen pitch, all the players and staff made the journey only for it to be abandoned midway through the 1st half.
This time a road closure would hinder the visitors preparation. The A421 north of Bedford was closed and diversions put in place. The bulk of the AFC players did not get to the ground until 7.15pm. It was even worse for skipper Leon Cashman and Nathan Frater, they were the unfortunate pair who missed the kick off and arrived at 8pm, so a 50 mile journey that took them near on 3 hours for the two influential players.
Hoping to keep the same starting X1 as Saturday who were so impressive, AFC boss Steve Heath had to make changes to his formation and team. He said "my preparation was all over the place. I only had 9 players at the ground at 7pm and the teamsheet needed to be handed in to the referee. I had no idea what time players would arrive, so everything was up in the air. Then when the referee informs me he could put the kick off back to 8pm but he would report us for a late start, I had no choice but to pick the team with players available to me"
Finally with 12 players at 7.15pm the team could be announced. Apart form the opening 10 minutes, when AFC had a goal chalked off, the upright struck by BJ Christie and Jermaine Hall being denied by the Histon keeper,the team were all out of sorts and looked disjointed.
Histon grabbed their opportunity with both hands and did not look like a team battling relegation to step 5 and deserved the points on the night. Their energy and commitment out shone the weary AFC players and soon they settled into their stride. Ricky Perks had to be at his agile best to make a low save and the defence preceded to bloke a few Histon strikes on goal.
Half time: Histon 0 AFC Dunstable 0
Hoping the half time break would be advantageous to AFC and they could re group, it looked like it had worked when Christie gave them the lead on 57 minutes.
Then a comedy of errors resulted in Histon drawing level only 3 minutes later. Failing to clear their defensive lines, the ball ping ponged around the AFC goal and it seemed Courtney Massay was going to clear the ball off the line but somehow he helped into the back of the net.
Then on 64 minutes, Christie broke clear again. As he bore down on goal it looked like he would make it 2-1. A great last ditched tackle though denied him.
It was now time to bring on Cashman and Frater but 3 hours sitting in a car, no warm up then sitting on a cold bench for 30 minutes, they could just not get going.
Histon now had their tails up and on 75 minutes took the lead. The winning goal was out of the same category as their first. From a corner, misplaced clearances and air shots eventually saw a header eluded everyone and cross the line.
Could AFC respond, the answer was no. To be fair to the hosts, they looked the more likely to stretch their lead, as the visitors looked unrecognisable from Saturday.
So 3 extremely vital points for Histon and it showed at the final whistle. If Histon survive this season, AFC will hope they will not encounter the same obstacles with their visit next season and will be problem free with just making the trip once.