Following an early season fixture list involving both sides in a regime of 3 matches per week it was perhaps understandable that both Managers took decisions to play squad players who, up until this point in the season, had only limited on-field action. Clearly, the volume of changes on both sides led to a lack of fluidity in play from both teams throughout the first half. However, the away side showed some early intent forcing a corner that came to nought within a minute of kick-off. AFC’s Taylor Rhiney was quickly in the action with a shot into the side net after just 3 minutes. Rhiney’s compatriot Kyle Ajayi was well forward and got on the end of a free kick to head very narrowly wide in the 5th minute and, at this point, Rovers were finding it difficult to string passes together. However, with 10 minutes gone a surging run on the left from Rovers Ibby Lukulay ended with a fine cross which Jay Palmer did well to get on the end of but the finish lacked real quality and was easily held by AFC keeper Dan Green. Taylor Rhiney will be asking himself how he failed to connect when presented with an open goal in the 12th minute the ball rolling harmlessly out for a Rovers goal-kick. Rovers centre-forward Connor Vincent then tried an overhead kick but, once again, this lacked accuracy and power and presented no issues to keeper Green. Lukulay shot wide and Jemal McKenzie-Lowe headed narrowly from a free-kick before the half hour. However, back came AFC when another Rhiney effort forced Rovers keeper Dan Gould into a smart save low at his right hand post with the resultant AFC corner failing to threaten further. Right on the half-time whistle Rovers defender Lewis Thomas was cautioned for a late tackle with the half fizzling out at stalemate.
Playing up the Sharpenhoe Road slope seemed to better suit this AFC side and this showed with early second half pressure and their superiority was rubber-stamped when AFC central defender Martell Power got his toe on the end of what was a pinball session inside the Rovers penalty area and put the away side a goal to the good after 56 minutes. With 63 minutes gone, and Rovers failing to get any sort of foothold in this game, AFC doubled their lead when their other centre-back Damen Pickering headed a second for AFC. AFC’s Erin Amu was next to threaten a score but shot straight into Gould’s arms when he ought to have scored. Rovers flickered into life on 76 minutes when McKenzie-Lowe headed over from a good position. In the dying minutes McKenzie-Lowe did light up the home support, albeit briefly, with a consolation goal that will remain in my mind as a goal of the season contender. So Rovers fine start to the season brought to what we hope will be temporary halt and the League campaign continues this Saturday when we host newcomers to the League Daventry Town FC.
Final Score: Barton Rovers 1 (McKenzie-Lowe 87) AFC Dunstable 2 (Power 56, Pickering 63)
Rovers Team: Gould, Palmer, Olineran, Gibson (Didik 76), Thomas (Dummett 46), McKenzie-Lowe, Beckley, Ingham, Lukulay, Bailey, Vincent (Griffiths 46).