Anthony bags treble in incredible game but Harpenden Town left frustrated by Dunstable loss
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A hat-trick from Jake Anthony proved in vain as Harpenden Town and Dunstable Town produced a nine-goal thriller.
His first had given Harpenden an early advantage and the forward’s third goal had dragged the hosts from 3-1 down into a 4-3 lead in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division clash.
However, there was to be a sting in the tail and a late double at Rothamsted Park left the final score at 5-4 in Dunstable’s favour
Assistant manager Steve O’Reilly was in no doubt the bad outweighed the good, no matter how high the entertainment value.
He said: “We want to do the pretty side of things, we want to play football and that’s great. Scoring four goals is again fantastic but you should not concede five at home and we have today.
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“As a group we’re going to have to go away and look at that and we need to find a response.”
There was another bumper attendance at Rothamsted Park, the 137 viewing the game the biggest of Harps’ four league matches this year, and there is no doubt the majority would have enjoyed the goals, if not the result.
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It had started positively and looked like it would be a comfortable afternoon against a Dunstable side struggling for form.
Anthony was quickly on his toes and off the mark, robbing the Dunstable defence of the ball and carefully slotting his side into a deserved lead.
A Harry Seeby injury led to a shake up in the attack with Jake Collins being introduced early on and the disruption allowed Dunstable to push forward.
They won a corner in the process and a poor attempt to clear from the Harps’ defence lead to an easy opportunity for the visitors’ attack to slam the ball into the back of the net for 1-1.
The goal allowed Dunstable to grow in confidence and another mix-up made it 2-1 on 35 minutes before three minutes later it was 3-1.
A late rally allowed Harpenden to pull one back before half-time.
Anthony found himself in space just inside the box but a foul brought a penalty and he calmly converted the spot-kick.
Harpenden picked up right where they left off at the start of the second half, placing lots of pressure upon the Dunstable Town defence.
They were triumphant too when Mulik Rickman pulled off a fine volley which sailed into the top left corner.
Yet another defensive mix-up, this one on the Dunstable back-line, saw Jake Anthony nip in and fire home after rounding the keeper, completing what seemed to be not only a hat-trick for himself but an almighty comeback for his side.
But with half an hour left on the clock the game was far from over and a neat ball was slipped through to Chris Stapleton who found the net for the second time in the game.
This led to the final half an hour forming a tense yet fiery affair as neither team seemingly content with a point.
A series of strong challenges, and strong words, saw both teams find each other a greater enemy.
However, the 85th-minute introduction of Leo Pedro proved a stroke of genius by the Dunstable management as the substitute netted his side’s winner in the last minute of the game, leaving no time for a Harpenden response.
Harpenden are back in action away to Crawley Green on Tuesday night, before returning to Rothamsted Park on Saturday against Broadfields United.