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Blackstones start their United Counties League Division One season with victory over Dunkirk



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Joint Blackstones boss Jon Harrison hailed a huge performance from his side as they made a winning start to the new United Counties League season on Saturday.

Stones were 4-3 winners at a Dunkirk side who finished last season just outside the Division One play-off places.

It was a topsy-turvy tussle as Stones were pegged back shortly after taking the lead in the first half of the contest.

Kieran Duffy-Weekes was on target and also won a penalty for Blackstones. Photo: Rob O'Brien (58367166)
Kieran Duffy-Weekes was on target and also won a penalty for Blackstones. Photo: Rob O'Brien (58367166)

Dunkirk then hit the front after the break before the Stamford side responded with a three-goal blitz.

However, Dunkirk were handed a lifeline when they scored direct from kick-off after Stones' fourth goal which set up a tense finale as Harrison and Ryan Wood's charges held out for a fine victory.

Harrison said: "It was really good from the boys in what was a tough away game.

"Dunkirk finished seventh last season so we were a little bit worried because we had a few players missing so we weren't at full strength.

"It was a huge performance from the lads though and the most pleasing thing was that Dunkirk had pretty much the same squad as last season so it was a good marker for me.

"It's a sign which shows we will be in the majority of games.We had some hard matches in pre-season and it didn't look like we had scored a lot of goals but we took something out of every single game.

"We will always score goals which is a very good sign because it's probably the hardest part of the game."

Kieran Duffy-Weekes was brought down for the early penalty that Bognan Masnita converted to put Stones ahead.

However, Dunkirk were level within a couple of minutes through last season's top scorer Scott Litchfield.

Luke Gove then had a goal disallowed for Stones while Duffy-Weekes missed a good chance with Dunkirk also hitting the crossbar as the first half finished level.

Stones were then hit by a sucker punch after the break as they gave possession away cheaply which resulted in a corner for Dunkirk that saw Max Taylor give the home side the lead.

Harrison then praised the 'unbelievable reaction' from his side as they got back on level terms when Duffy-Weekes headed home a Mark Baines free kick.

The fitness of the visitors and the impact of their substitutes then started to tell with Masnita and Ayman Trabelsi causing the home side numerous problems.

Masnita scored a cracking third goal to put Stones ahead again and then Dami Agboola rounded the goalkeeper and hit the post before squaring to Trabelsi to make it 4-2.

Stones looked like they would go on and add to their tally but, straight from the kick-off, Aaron Large launched an audacious effort that flew into the visiting net.

Dunkirk then cranked up the pressure in the latter stages but goalkeeper Simon Dalton made some crucial saves and took vital crosses as Stones stood strong for an excellent opening day win.

They will now look to build on the win in their first home league match on Saturday when Rainworth Miners Welfare are the visitors to the Torney Limited Stadium.

The two sides are due to meet again next month when Stones travel to the Mansfield side in the FA Vase with Harrison refusing to get carried away with their opening day success.

He added: "We used to make that mistake in the last couple of years. We would get a couple of wins and start forgetting to do the basics.

"But I don't think that will happen here. We've got an experienced spine of the team in Simon Dalton, Luke Gove, Mark Baines and Kieran Duffy-Weekes.

"The lads have been spot on as well and there has been a massive difference in professionalism.

"They have adapted very quickly to things like time-keeping, punctuality and availability so it's going well.

"We're not going to get carried away though because it's just one victory."

Stones: Dalton, McLoughlin, Masnita, Grunsteins, Gove, Molyneux (Irvine), H Armiger (Trabelsi), Baines, Duffy-Weekes, Venni (B Armiger), Agboola (Brando).



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