An under-strength AFC Dunstable still found enough to see off Hadley 3-0 in the SSML Challenge Trohpy last Wednesday night.
AFC’s squad was pushed to the limit as six starters from Saturday were unavailable due to injury and festive functions. Promoted from the reserves, Ben Darby made his full debut for the first team and put in a good shift. Three more players from the reserves were on the bench – Lewis Crowys, Glenn Thompson and Kane Axten. They all made second half appearances and Axten had the added pleasure of setting up AFC’s third goal.
In the end the teams were evenly matched but it was a combination of AFC’s finishing and Hadley’s wayward shooting that won the day for the visitors and saw them progress into the quarter finals.
Two goals in four minutes just before the half time break was the defining part of the game. Jermaine Hall picked up a loose ball 25 yards from goal and chipped the advancing Hadley keeper to put the visitors 1-0 up. On 40 minutes AFC had doubled their lead with a bullet of a strike from Jason Beck from 20 yards.
The visitors took their foot off the gas for the first 15 minutes of the restart and let the hosts have a lot more possession. Jernade Mead came close to reducing the arrears on the hour, when his shot clipped the crossbar.
This woke AFC up and they started to compete again and forced a few corners. When Hadley did get into decent positions, their shots at goal threatened the supporters behind it more than the net.
There was time for AFC to put the icing on the cake when Hall broke clear again from an Axten pass to slot home on 85 minutes.
AFC wait for the outcome of Codicote’s tie with Hoddesdon Town to see who they will face in the quarter-finals.