HARTLEY Wintney maintained their place in the play off zone with a win at third placed AFC Dunstable.

A stunning free-kick goal from Dean Stow plus some resolute defending, particularly towards the end of the game, ensured the points went back to Hampshire.

The game was played on a poor surface, as a match had been played on the pitch the previous day and this made fluent play impossible.

Dunstable with the aid of a strong wind attacked from the start and on six minutes good interplay between Moses Alaleye and Bernie Christie set up Nathan Frater who shot over the bar.

Hartley worked their way into the game and on 16 minutes had a free-kick some 25 yards from goal.

Dean Stow’s effort beat the wall and Jamie Head in the AFC goal produced a good save.

On 26 minutes a right wing corner from Dean Stow found the head of Liam Eagle who directed his effort wide at the near post.

The Row continued to probe and on 32 minutes a good through ball from Jack French set Jake Baxter clear.

The striker saw his effort parried for a corner by Head.

From the resulting flag kick Liam Eagle’s header found Jake Baxter who fired over; although he may well have been offside.

On 45 minutes an Adam Everiss corner found the head of Liam Eagle who saw his effort cleared off the line. In added time the home side came close when a Jermaine Hall corner found Terry Griffith who mis-cued his header wide.

With the wind at their backs it did not take the Row long to post their first effort.

Strong midfield play from Ty Smith set up Jake Baxter who saw his effort from 18 yards go wide.

However on 49 minutes Hartley were grateful to Declan Shuttleworth for clearing off the line following a Dunstable corner.

On 58 minutes an Adam Everiss corner on the right was carried in by the wind and just missed the far post.

The Row continued to press and good work from Dean Stow down the right saw a good delivery which just eluded an inrushing Shuttleworth at the far post.

On 66 minutes Hartley finally got the break through after being awarded a free-kick some 25 yards from goal.

Dean Stow took the kick and it crashed into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

On 76 minutes, the home side had a chance from a free kick after Liam Eagle was booked for hauling down Leon Cashman on the edge of the box.

The free-kick was well struck and the Row were relieved to see the ball deflected into the arms of Paul Strudley.

The home side exerted considerable pressure for the remainder of the match with Hartley unable to keep possession of the ball.

On 78 minutes a free-kick from Newman Carney found Leon Cashman unmarked in front of goal. The striker’s header went over the bar.

With a heavy downpour of hailstones saw Creasy Park became ‘Greasy Park’ and conditions became atrocious.

The hosts continued to press and on 86 minutes a good cross from Brett Longpen found Bill Morgan who headed over.

A minute later Drew Roberts had an effort which went wide and soon afterwards a shot from Danny Murphy was cleared off the Row line.

On 90 minutes more late pressure saw a smart save from Paul Strudley from another effort by Drew Roberts.

In the fifth minute of added time Dean Stow picked up a second yellow card with a mistimed tackle and was sent-off.

Hartley held on for the remaining minute of added time to record a notable win with both centre backs Liam Eagle and Jack Ball outstanding throughout.

Joint manager Dan Brownlie said: "We knew that if we could keep them out against the wind in the first half we would have a chance. Dean Stow's free kick was fantastic!!.

"This was a good win against a good side who will be there or there about at the end of the season. The Dunstable forwards are amongst the best in this league.

"Liam Eagle and Jack Ball both had good games and seem to complement each other at the back. They were assured throughout. James King had a good game after waiting so long for his chance."

Fellow joint manager Anthony Millerick said: "AFC Dunstable are a physical side and we knew we had to match them on a difficult pitch.

Our back four played well and Hadley put a food wrong throughout.

"I was pleased that we refused in any way to be intimidated today. A lasting memory of this match will be the Dean Stow's free-kick."

Next for Hartley is a trip to local rivals Fleet Town on Tuesday.