23rd December - Fleet Town 2 AFC Dunstable 2
AFC's 6 match winning run came to an end, as they were held to a draw by a team who have not tasted defeat at home in the league for 3 months, to the extent the 18 of their 19 points this season have been secured on their home patch.
On a damp day in deepest Hampshire, the visitors welcomed new signing Drew Roberts into the starting line up. He was earmarked for a place on the bench, but late drop outs from Bill Morgan and James Bishop meant AFC manager Steve Heath had to start him. Heath was also hoping the return of Brandon Carney would relieve his problems, but his transfer forms were not signed in time. Ryan Frater also missed out with a knee problem picked up in the Kempston Rovers game. Louis Bircham and Danny Murphy are still long term absentees due to injuries.
Playing down the slope in the 1st half, AFC found it hard to come to terms with the conditions. The hosts grabbed their chance to take the lead on 13 minutes. George Pilbeam latched onto a loose ball and coolly lifted the ball over Jamie Head to make it 1-0.
AFC's first real chance of the game came when a cracking BJ Christie strike was tipped over the bar by Liam Beach on 26 minutes. The visitors would continue to probe for the equaliser and from a Newman Carney corner, Leon Cashman had a free header but was off target.
On the half hour AFC should have been level. Good work out wide by Brett Longden saw him break into the box but was bundled to the ground. A penalty resulted but Jermaine Hall put the spot kick wide.
Within a minute another great chance was created by AFC. This time Roberts effort went narrowly wide. Up the other end, Fleet were finding it hard to play up the slope, as Head was not duly tested.
Half time. Fleet Town 1 AFC Dunstable 0
Needing to up their game, AFC finally drew level on the hour. From yet another corner, the ball bobbled about in the Fleet box and struck a blue hand. Just as Roberts fired the ball home, the referee blew for a penalty. This time Roberts took the responsibility from the spot and made no mistake.
The visitors started to gain more territory but had to be mindful of the break away, as in Bradley Wilson Fleet had someone with pace and trickery.
The main talking point of the game came on 70 minutes. It saw AFC's Nathan Frater and Fleet's Ashley Llloyd receive their marching orders for a skirmish on the halfway line. Now with both teams down to 10 men, it freed up a bit more space for both sides.
All of sudden Fleet regained the lead. The dangerous Wilson put a cross into the AFC box and Chris Wales got the slightest touch with his head to direct it into the net with 9 minutes left on the clock.
Could AFC respond? They went in search of equaliser and it was defender Terry Griffiths who got it. With AFC forcing a few corners in the closing stages, the ball made its way to Griffiths to head home in the fading gloom.
With the game entering its final moments, Hall had a great chance to secure the points for AFC. He broke away from his marker and got in a great position. He could have slipped in Christie or Roberts unmarked in the box but decided to go for goal and blasted the ball over the bar.
Heath was in two moods after the game saying "on reflection we probably just shaded the game and I expect the film footage will back me up on that. We created the most chances and their keeper was more in the game than ours. Also missing a penalty did not help. In the end we did not lose and came back twice which was good to see and have protected our unbeaten run to be 2nd coming into Christmas. I thought the conditions were not the best and the two goalmouths were very bleak due to poor lighting, that might have helped us with our 2nd goal, as I don't think their keeper saw the ball"
Team: Head. Longden. Carney. Griffiths. Cashman. Tavernier. Roberts. Olaleye (Cox 81). Christie. Hall. N.Frater. Sub not used Blackman.
Scorers: Roberts 60(pen). Griffiths 84.