Southern League Division One East: AFC Dunstable 2 Marlow 1
AFC Dunstable went to the top of the table after a hard-fought victory over Marlow on Saturday.
The match was, in truth, quite a dour affair, until the last 13 minutes, when a late tackle by a Marlow player on Courtney Massay saw the referee produce a straight red card.
It was not to finish there for the visitors, as by the end of the game they only had eight players on left on the pitch as frustrations boiled over.
Home boss Steve Heath made a handful of changes to the side that beat Barton Rovers, with Louis Bircham returning to Kings Langley, while Nathan Frater and Newman Carney came back in, meaning Danny Murphy was pushed into midfield, with BJ Christie and Christian Tavernier, who had both returned from their suspensions, on the bench.
It took only nine minutes for AFC to take the lead as after Nathan Frater was tripped on the edge of the penalty area, he stepped up to take the free kick, his low effort somehow squirming under Marlow’s keeper Simon Grant.
It was nearly 2-0 soon after, when efforts by Jermaine Hall and Ryan Frater in the same move, failed to get the ball over the line.
Home keeper Jamie Head was called into action, diving at a visiting forward’s feet, before the Blues were back in the game on 39 minutes, as Jordace Holder-Spencer’s low strike found the bottom corner.
However, AFC went straight up the other end and retook the lead, when Hall got away from his markers and although he saw his shot saved, had the presence of mind to set up Frater for his second.
If the first half had goals, the second descended into a bit of a farce, as Marlow’s players started to lose their heads.
Firstly the late tackle on Massay resulted on Ryan Parsons dismissed on 77 minutes, while keeper Grant was sent off moments later leaving them down to nine men.
AFC hit the panic button though, giving the ball away needlessly and committing silly free kicks, but Marlow were soon three players light when Holder-Spooner picked up a second yellow for dissent.
The hosts managed to hold on though, as speaking afterwards, Heath said: “That was a strange one. Who would have thought what would have happened in the dying embers of the game, from what had gone on before?
“I knew it was going to be very tough and we just about held our nerve.”
AFC: Head, Massay, Carney, R Frater, Morgan (Christie 66), Bishop, Murphy, Olaleye, Hall (Mannion 83), Close, N Frater (Tavernier 83).
Sub not used. Campbell.