OK guys, I solved this one - eventually got the gamepad to connect via usb by trying different ports. Wouldn't work with the bluetooth dongle plugged in, but did without. Then plugged the dongle in, and searched for devices - was able to pair with the plugged in snes30 control (?) and then pair the nes30 control on second attempt. Tried a reset and everything is great!
Strange that it wouldn't let the wired keyboard take me to the gui, but it's done now.
For anyone that wants to disable onboard bluetooth and use a dongle... the above config entry is good.