AFC knocked out by Rangers after late penalty drama
A youthful AFC Dunstable were knocked out of the Molten Spartan SML Challenge Trophy after a 3-2 defeat at Risborough Rangers on Tuesday night.
With AFC heading to Saffron Walden in the FA Vase this weekend, boss Steve Heath rested a number if his squad, promoting from the U18s and reserves.
The visitors had five 17-year-olds starting, as Jamie Warne put some telling crosses in early on.
The deadlock was broken just before half time though when Rory Joe finished off a neat move for Rangers.
After the break, AFC were caught out as Jamal Harvey’s misplaced pass saw Risborough’s top scorer Martin Griggs finish with aplomb.
Boss Heath then introduced Saturday’s hat-trick hero Enzo Silvestri and within three minutes, his side had pulled a goal back through Jamie Warne.
However, Warne had to go off with a knock to his ankle and Jimmy Hartley came on.
Rangers went close once more as Griggs’ shot was tipped on to the bar by Matt Fallon. AFC continued to press for the equaliser and it came through Hartley with four minutes left.
However disaster struckmoments later as a goalmouth scramble saw Adrian Pitfield deemed to have handle the ball on the line.
The referee gave a penalty and showed Pitfield a red card as Griggs scored from the spot to put Risborough into the quarter-finals.
A reflective Heath said: “Make no mistake, I did want to win this competition, but we have bigger fish to fry on Saturday, so I did not want to risk too many regulars.
“I decided to blood a few young lads and I was very proud of their achievements.
“With the structure the club has, it is nice to give them then chance of senior football.
“I had some big guns on the bench that I could have introduced at half time but the team was performing admirably, I felt there was not need too.
“I would like to mention 17-year-old Adrian Pitfield at right back.
“He had a tremendous debut and was distraught at the end, as the ball hit him high on the chest.
“I told him not to worry, as refs occasionally guess on major decisions.”