Dunstable Town 3 Blues
Blues survived a late comeback from the hosts to reach the Emirates FA Cup second qualifying round, on Saturday.
A dominant first half which saw a Jamie Cureton brace and goals from Shomari Barnwell and Ryan Charles gave Blues a seemingly unassailable half-time lead, and when Charles netted his second nine minutes after the break it appeared that the game was all over.
However the home side quickly reduced the arrears and had Stortford on the back foot for the rest of the game, albeit without ever really looking likely to cause a shock.
There were several changes to Blues’ starting line-up as new signing Ahmed Abdulla
slotted into midfield and Aaron Greene made his first competitive start of the season following a knee injury.
Alfie Mason made a welcome return to the squad after missing the opening weeks with a back injury, joining the action as a second half substitute, while Cambridge United made a late decision to allow Ben Worman to get cup-tied. On the negative side, skipper Sam Robbins missed the game with a virus.
Greene was quickly in the action, terrorising the home defence down the right to provide an early chance for Cureton.
But it took only 12 minutes for Cureton to open the scoring when he nipped in to intercept Kai McArthur‘s pass back to keeper Mackenzie Taylor, and the veteran striker fired home.
Blues were in total control, and they doubled their lead in the 24th minute when a good move between Cureton, Greene and Barnwell won a corner, and Cureton’s corner was nodded across the goal by Ryan Henshaw for Charles to head home.
Town finally troubled Blues’ keeper Fred Burbidge
shortly after the half-hour mark when he did well to save an effort from skipper Chris Stapleton at the back post.
Barnwell got himself on the scoresheet four minutes before the break when he was flattened in the box by Joe Zunguzah, and the imposing striker got up to blast a perfect spot kick past Taylor despite the home keeper going the right way.
Barnwell could have doubled his own tally just before half-time as he latched on to Ben Sampayo’s perfect ball, but he unselfishly passed to an unmarked Cureton to tap the ball home for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Blues continued to dominate after the break and they made it 5-0 in the 54th minute when a great move between Charles and Cureton ended with the former sending a perfect shot past Taylor from the edge of the box.
The visitors clearly relaxed following the fifth goal and Mark Haines was forced to clear off the line before Zunguzah made up for his earlier error when he took advantage of a motionless defence to score from close range in the 56th minute.
What appeared to be a broken ankle suffered by McArthur saw a long break, but it was Town who started strongly when the game restarted and as the Blues midfield dropped back, Henshaw was robbed by Luke Little who netted from 10 yards in the 65th minute.
Blues appeared to have weathered the storm, but Town set up a grandstand finish when another defensive error David Pobbe net with six minutes of normal time remaining.
But the hosts didn’t have another serious chance on goal and Stortford held on to collect the £4,500 winners’ cheque and record their first FA Cup victory for almost six years.
Dunstable Town: Mackenzie Taylor, Kai McArthur (Andrew Boyce-Fuller 62), Adam Sawyer, Dan Blackman, Dan Trif, Joe Zunguzah (Eric Ameyaw 57), Evans Lamboh, Davide Pobbe (Jack McCool 90), Luke Little, Jack Harvey, Chris Stapleton. Unused subs: Kelvin Osei-Addo, Andrew Mackintosh, Andre Elliot, Tyrik Lee.
Blues: Fred Burbidge, Ben Sampayo, Jack Thomas (Harry Morgan 68), Ahmed Abdulla, Ryan Henshaw, Ryan Charles (Alfie Mason 68), Jamie Cureton, Aaron Greene (Ben Worman 90), Johnville Renee, Mark Haines, Shomari Barnwell. Unused subs: William Mycroft-Edwards, Alex Warman, Olly Miles