26th August - AFC Dunstable 2 Ashford Town (Middx) 2
For the second game in a row, AFC found themselves down to 10 men but on this occasion handle the situation much better, as they succumbed to an injury time equaliser from the visitors.
The OD's welcomed new signing Louis Bircham into the starting line up, after his transfer from Kings Langley. One more change was made from the FA Cup departure when Bill Morgan replaced Terry Griffiths in the centre of defence.
The Tangerines came to Creasey Park on a high. Having won their opening 2 league games, they also had progressed in the FA Cup, so with a 3 from 3 win ratio, this was going to be a tough game for AFC.
The opening exchanges were evenly contested, as both teams fought tooth and nail. The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors, as the home defence got in a right pickle. It fell to Courtney Massay to clear their effort off the line.
Within a minute of that action, AFC took the lead. Debutant Bircham broke clear and finished well on 25 minutes. Next up it was Ashford's turn to try and get on the scoresheet, but Jamie Head saved well with his feet.
The game was now opening up and when a Christian Tavernier free kick found Jermaine Hall's head, his effort hit the base of the Ashford post.
It was looking like AFC would go into the break a goal to the good. That all changed, when ace marksman Mark Bitmead coolly lobbed Head in the AFC goal to draw them level.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 1 Ashford Town 1
With neither team giving an inch, it was the visitors who threw away a golden chance to take the lead on 61 minutes but the striker failed to get his shot on target.
Then disaster for the hosts. 5 minutes later, Tavernier burst into the Ashford box surrounded by defenders. With all the flaying arms and legs, he seemed to have his shirt tugged and down he went. The man in the middle deemed he had dived, so issued Taverniers 2nd yellow card.
Hoping to not go down the same route as the previous game, AFC dug in and created the next chance. Nathan Frater got passed two defenders and rifled his shot goalwards. Tyler Tobin was up to the challenge and saved well.
Then more controversy. 72 minutes had surpassed as sub Danny Murphy flew into the Ashford box. Same result as earlier, he went down but this time the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Hall to put away the penalty.
Now could AFC hold on? Ashford threw everything at the AFC defence and it was looking like they may hold out. The game entered added on time and 2 minutes into it, Bitmead was given another chance and he duly put it away.
Still 3 minutes remained and the visitors fancied a winner. It was backs to the wall for the OD's but they held on to secure a point, which in the end was the right result.
AFC Team: Head. Massay. Carney. R.Frater. Morgan. Close. Tavernier. Olaleye. Hall (Bishop 72). Bircham (Murphy 68). N.Frater (Campbell 85). Subs not used. Griffiths. Silford
Goalscorers: Bircham (25). Hall 72(p)