12th August - AFC Dunstable 4 Fleet Town 0
It was a perfect start to AFC's new campaign for 2017-18, as a hat trick for Jermaine Hall and one from Tom Silford saw them deliver a fine performance to dispatch Fleet Town to this defeat.
With the game being billed as a fond farewell to AFC's late President Keith McClurgh, who passed away at the end of June, many family members were in attendance.
With suspensions and unavailability, the home sides manager Steve Heath only had 14 1st team players available to him, as BJ Christie and Danny Murphy were serving suspensions. On top of that, Nathan Frater, Bill Morgan and James Bishop were unavailable. Vice Captain Leon Cashman also sat out the game, as he awaits an operation on his foot. So some trepidation was expected.
Heath gave full debuts to new signings Ryan Frater, Lee Close and Christian Tavernier. On the bench was Jordan Browne, with Jamie Head between the sticks, who played for AFC at youth level. Two Development players in the shape of Danny Blackman (18) & Kyle Ajayi (17) were on the bench.
On the other hand, the team from Hampshire were a complete different side from last season. With a new manager in place, many new faces were on show.
Right from the start, the hosts were on the front foot and sprayed the ball around well. Hall looking to continue were he left off last season, was hungry to get off the mark early. He had to wait until midway through the 1st half. A neat move ended up with Adiel Mannion being pulled back in the box. Hall put away the resulting penalty.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0 and it was that man Hall again as he fired home a great strike. AFC were completely on top now and their authority was stamped on the game, when their 3rd goal was the pick of the 4 goals they scored. A lovely move down the right hand side, saw Courtney Massay and Mannion link up well. The cross from Massay found Silford 15 yards from goal. The striker rose and headed home a fine header to make it 3.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 3 Fleet Town 0
When Fleet's Ade Oshilaji picked up his 2nd yellow card on 52 minutes, AFC looked to slam home their advantage. Hall completed his hat trick 10 minutes into the half with another flowing move, which resulted in the goal as Silford set up his fellow striker.
It was now looking like AFC could score at will, but the visitors decided to shut up shop and go for damage limitation. All their outfield players were instructed to get behind the ball and the game took the guise of a training session with attack against defence.
It was good practice for the home side and they still carved out a couple of chances as Hall was close to adding to his tally and Mannion nearly got off the mark.
So a happy Heath said after the game " I was pleased the new signings settled in well today. I thought we played some good football and thoroughly deserved the victory. I will not get carried away, as in the end it is the first game of the season. I know many teams this season have made big changes to their squads, so until we get into around the end of September, we cannot gauge were everybody are. One thing I do know though, Tuesday at Kempston Rovers will be a much sterner test and we will have to be on our guard"
AFC Team: Head. Massay. Carney. R.Frater. Griffiths. Close (Byron 66). Mannion. Olaleye (Campbell 66). Hall (Browne 70). Tavernier. Silford. Subs not used. Blackman. Ajayi
Scorers: Hall 25p. 34. 55. Silford 44