Wardens unbeaten start to season ended by Dunlop

By James Smith

11th Sep 2023 | Football


Kenilworth Wardens lost to Dunlop but remain top of the table (image via Alex Waters)
Kenilworth Wardens lost to Dunlop but remain top of the table (image via Alex Waters)

Kenilworth Wardens lost their first game of the year in a tight and ill tempered game at Dunlop.

The hosts thought they had taken the lead on 20 minutes when captain Olyaanaa Ahmed smashed the ball into the bottom corner from after being played the ball from a quick free kick on the edge of the Wardens box. But the goal was chalked off as Kenilworth's Stan Moss was impeded by the referee as he went to close down the ball - the referee called for a retake, to the anger of the Dunlop bench and their fans.

Moments later Wardens did take the lead.

Isaac Bloomer won the ball and played into Dave Buckley's feet who turned and played Ben Edmunds in on the right. Edmund's initial pass was blocked but fell back into his path for him to play in captain Andy Legg who stroked into the bottom corner from 15 yards out. Legg's seventh goal in five games and his 50th Wardens first team goal.

Dunlop equalized on 30 in bizarre fashion. As Andy Whitehouse came to claim a poor cross into the box, Bloomer rose to head back to the Wardens keeper but Ahmed managed to meet the ball on the line to turn it home.

Both teams had chances to take the lead before the half, Buckley forcing a brilliant save from the Dunlop keeper and Whitehouse producing a stunning finger tip save from a Dunlop header.

On 60 minutes Dunlop took the lead when the otherwise excellent Ryan Oldham and Moss tackled each other 30 yards out, the deflection went to Ahmed five yards behind the defence to run and hit across Whitehouse into the bottom corner.

Five minutes later there was controversy when a Dunlop aggressively kicked out at Legg from behind and off the ball. While the visitors called for a red card, the incident was not seen by the referee or the Dunlop manager - who was then acting as linesman - and chaos occurred in the aftermath.

On the restart Wardens immediately had the ball in the back of the net from Buckley, but the referee ruled the goal out for handball against the Kenilworth forward despite the ball actually coming off his leg.

Buckley again thought he equalised when his shot hit the bar and appeared to bounce far over the line before bouncing out, but the Dunlop linesman ruled it did not cross the line.

With five minutes left Buckley came closest to equalizing again, when his powerful shot was saved by Dunlop's keeper.

With seconds left to play Dunlop hit Wardens on the counter and scored, but a clear offside saw the goal disallowed.

"Dunlop are a good side with a great set up and really talented footballers," Wardens player-manager Eamonn Richards said after the game.

"However they know some of their behaviour let them down today. Although after we beat them four times last season I don't blame them at all for being overly joyful in their celebrations.

"I think we were lucky to beat Phoenix and Copsewood and we were unlucky to lose today.

"The game was decided on small margins, individual errors and referee decisions.

"When we've won the feeling is that we're the best team in the league and after today the feeling there is stuff fundamentally wrong with our side, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

"I've been a manager for for 11 years and know that when we lose we always learn more and I learnt a lot today which once we put it right in training, tactics and with selection I'm sure it'll make us better moving forward.

"We regroup and will be better next week against Jet Blades."

Meanwhile Wardens Reserves managed to turn things around after going two behind against Jet Blades.

Having needed a reaction after losing in the cup on Thursday, goals from Jay Blackburn, Harrison Wright and Leo Parnell-Notice saw them come from behind to make it two wins out of two league games for managers Kris Brandram and Sam McKinnon.

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