Terry Shrieves’ side managed to pick up exactly where they left off over 200 days ago – in dominating winning form in the league. It was new territory for MK Irish after promotion to the Spartans South Midlands Premier Division, who could barely have dreamt of such a comfortable 4-0 victory on opening night.
Spence so nearly got his side off to a dream start with less than two minutes on the clock. Shrieves played Olukanmi in down the left, who’s fierce cross was palmed into Spence’s path by the Dunstable keeper before he saved the subsequent shot.
It was an early glimpse of what was to come as Irish’s attack started brightly, exchanging positions fluidly and looking increasingly threatening.
Next to go close was Lawless, who excellently made space for a shot after receiving a cut back from Shrieves before cutting inside, dropping a defender to the ground before firing just over the bar.
Both sides were enjoying good spells of possession in what was a high quality opening 15 minutes. Dunstable’s build up was patient and measured but it was the visitors who were having the better chances.
Those Irish chances were all coming from counter attacks, with Dunstable unable to contain the pace of Shrieves and Olukanmi on the break.
The lack of Dunstable chances was a credit to Irish’s back line, who were remaining firm under pressure; new signing Muzzy was having a particularly impressive debut.
Spence came closest to opening the scoring after 20 minutes, rising highest from a corner but heading just wide of the far post.
As the game approached the half hour mark, the MK Irish pressure finally told.
A throw-in deep into Dunstable territory was eventually worked to Shrieves in the box, who cleverly spun the opponent who was on his back before fizzing a low cross right across the face of goal. The Dunstable defender could do little as he hacked the ball into his own net in an attempt to clear, making it 1-0 to MK Irish.
Dunstable started to turn the screw in the run up to half time and almost levelled things up via another own goal.
A corner was whipped in from the left, aimed towards the front post where the ball bounced off Spence and dropped into a grateful Owusu’s arms from point blank range.
The last action of the half almost saw the visitors double their lead thanks to the swiftest of breaks. Shrieves was released down the right by Olukanmi, before his early ball across found Lawless at the back post, who tried to clip it back across the goalkeeper on volley but was denied by a great save.
The pace of the game dropped as the second half began, as did the angle of Irish’s attacks as they appeared to become more patient in their approach – sensible with a lead to protect.
Ten minutes into the half it was the combination of Shrieves and Olukanmi looking dangerous again, as the latter was played through on goal before his near post effort was palmed behind.
With just under 30 minutes left to play a decisive moment in the half came. Shrieves looked to be through on goal, latching on to a long ball over the top and baring down on the keeper before being scithed down by a defender.
The defender in question was shown a second yellow card and rightly given his marching orders before interestingly being escorted off the pitch by a bouncer.
Soon after, with the ten men of Dunstable stretched and Irish looking to seal the victory, the second goal arrived.
A wonderful ball down the line from left back Shand saw Olukanmi with space to drive towards the byline, before drilling a cross right on to Spence’s head who nodded it home take make it 2-0.
The Irish were strolling to a handsome opening day win now as Dunstable started struggle.
Substitute Scott Belgrove soon got in on the act as he added a third. Bruce won the ball in the middle of the park and played a lofted ball towards Belgrove who outpaced his man before taking the shot early, on the bounce, chipping the keeper and making it 3-0.
The scoring didn’t stop there as Spence grabbed his second of the game to wrap it up as the match entered stoppage time.
The forward received the ball with his back to goal be off turning smartly to leave the defender for dead, making space for a deflected strike that trickled past the keeper.
Terry Shrieves and his side could scarcely have imagined a more impressive start to life in the Spartans South Mids Premier League as his side secured a comfortable 4-0 win.
The focus now changes to the club’s debut season in The FA Cup, with the first qualifying round against Enfield coming this Saturday.