13th January - Ashford Town (Middx) 1 AFC Dunstable 3
Two late Jermaine Hall goals in the final 8 minutes, was just enough to see AFC over the line in a very close affair. With the game delicately balanced at 1-1, he popped up to take his tally to 19 goals for the season with 2 close range efforts.
Looking to take their unbeaten run to 11 games, the OD's had to put the disappointment of dropping 2 points in the midweek against Northwood. Flu ridden Newman Carney missed the game, but luckily for AFC boss Steve Heath, Danny Murphy had recovered from his ankle injury to start at left back. Also back was Ryan Frater after his absence through injury. Leon Cashman was recalled to come in for Ollie Cox from Tuesday night. Brett Longden was serving his 3rd game of his 5 match ban and Nathan Frater was serving his last game.
The opening exchanges were very tight, as each team found it hard to gain any breakthroughs. A couple of long range efforts for both sides never really threatened. A Hall header was close but went just over the bar.
It took until 37 minutes for the opening goal. Hall broke into the Ashford box and got his shot away which was blocked. The ball came back to him and he had the presence of mind to square to BJ Christie to find the back of the net.
Half time: Ashford Town 0 AFC Dunstable 1
If the 1st half was cagey, both outfits in the 2nd half became more adventurous. On the hour, AFC had the chance to double their lead. A defence splitting pass released Drew Roberts. The ace marksmen though blasted his effort over the bar.
It looked like the visitors would rue that miss, as 5 minutes later the home side drew level. Picking the ball up 25 yards out, Max Herbert took advantage of AFC backing off him and he unleashed an unstoppable strike that found the top corner.
This goal gave Ashford confidence and starting to get on top. They nearly took the lead on 69 minutes, when a goal mouth scramble ensued. Eventually the AFC defence cleared the danger. Then back came the visitors, when a sublime left footed strike from Moses Olaleye just flashed by the post.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes, the OD's took the lead. With the ball bouncing about in the Ashford box, Hall got his head to it to score. Still Ashford pushed forward looking to get back on level terms, but with the game entering added on time, again the hosts failed to clear their lines and Hall punished them to make it 3-1.
With the top 3 winning, it was as you were, with table topping AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 points ahead of the OD's and Beaconsfield late win over Cambridge City one point further back. The only negative is that both clubs have 2 games in hand on AFC.
Team: Head. Bishop. Murphy. Morgan. R.Frater. Griffiths. Cashman. Olaleye (Bircham 80). Christie (Tavernier 90). Hall (B.Carney 87). Roberts. Sub not used.Cox