Cambridge City fall to defeat to stubborn AFC Dunstable
Lilywhites unable to break down visitors
Cambridge City were unable to find their way through AFC Dunstable’s thick blue line as they were beaten 2-0 at home in the Evo-Stik League, South East Division.
Goals in the second half from Bernie Christie and Jermaine Hall did the damage to City, who found the imposing opponents too tough to break down.
It may have been goals in the second half that decided the outcome, but City can consider themselves a bit fortunate not to have fallen behind on a couple of occasions in the first 15 minutes – but both times their defensive positioning saved the day.
From a second minute corner, Terry Griffiths rose to meet a flick on, but his header was cleared off the line by Ian Miller.
And the City captain was the saviour again seven minutes later. A poor clearance by keeper Niall Conroy fell to the feet of Louis Bircham and he took a touch in the area before firing in a shot which Miller kept out with his chest, with a few muted appeals for handball instantly dismissed by the referee.
Bircham then had a shot go narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
City got a foothold in the game and became the dominant force, and it was their movement that was a major factor in them doing so.
Wingers Tom Knowles and Salim Relizani were regularly swapping flanks, and it left Dunstable the question of who should be picking up who.
Ryan Sharman was also prepared to drop deeper of debutant Jack Vasey, and this was posing questions of the visitors’ defence.
Sharman hit a scuffed shot in the 20th minute that Jamie Head had to dive down low to his right to keep out, and then Relizani had their best chance in the 28th minute.
After a shout for a penalty from a first attempt was ignored, the ball came back to the winger and his fierce shot was touched on to the post by Head.
Dunstable continued to pose plenty of questions to the hosts, leaving them with no margin for error, and only a great bit of defending by Ben Robinson to avert the danger prevented Bircham getting in for the visitors.
And it was the defensive performance of Dunstable that ultimately won them the game.
In the second half, they clamped down on the space that City had managed to find in the later stages of the first half and were prepared to defend the edge of their box.
The opening goal came in the 66th minute as a deep ball into the box was not cleared properly by City, and Dunstable substitute BJ Christie hammered a powerful shot past Conroy.
It was difficult to work out how City did not have an equaliser two minutes later, as Mark Coulson’s cross fell to Vasey at the near post and it seemed like the merest of touches from Head kept it out his effort.
Coulson was busy at the other end in the 86th minute, clearing an effort from Leon Cashman off the line.
And when Dunstable returned back into the hosts’ half, a cross from Christie was controlled by Jermaine Hall, who then fired into the net to double the lead.
It proved to be the killer blow for City as they could not find a way back into the game.
Cambridge City: Conroy, Robinson, Coulson, Paterson, Gent, Miller, Relizani, Towner, Vasey, Sharman, Knowles.
Substitutes: Olukanmi (Knowles, 70). Not used: Spence, Snaith, Capel, Wilson.
AFC Dunstable: Head, Longden, Carney, R Frater, Griffiths, Bishop, Tavernier, Olaleye, N Frater, Hall, Bircham.
Substitutes: Christie (Bircham, 63), Cashman (Bishop, 63), Cox (N Frater, 86). Not used: Silford, Morgan.
Referee : Joshua Crofts.
Bookings : Cambridge City – Gent (foul, 36); Dunstable – Bircham (foul, 55), Carney (unsporting behaviour, 78).