Football: Blues 2 Bedford 2
The Blues left Grange Road on Monday night ruing a missed opportunity. After a concerted second half effort, they should have gone home with all three points. Still, the crowd, clearly the largest this season and a clear sign of support for the Blues, enjoyed this competitive game, despite a bitterly cold night. For the Blues, it was a display that showed an unbeaten season is achievable.
It was also a game of a certain degree of familiarity as the Blues met the same side for the third time this season. In the two previous encounters, the Blues had scrapped for a draw and secured a resounding win in league and cup respectively. It was thus interesting to see what this third game produced, especially as both sides knew what to expect. Predictably, then, the start of the game was a cagey affair as both sides were unable to gain the upper hand.
Despite the pitch showing signs of a long hard rugby season, the game gained some momentum. There was plenty of movement on the pitch, along with crisp passing. However, the midfields remained dominant with much of the play confined to the middle of the pitch. Neither side could find the cutting edge to unlock that elusive final third. Typically Stock produced an impressive run down the flank but he and Amos were mostly left frustrated up front
In some ways this has been a recurrent theme for the Blues this season. They have been able to play the ball around the middle of the park nicely but have been unable to produce the killer instinct. This is still a concern as they have one of the most crucial run-ins in recent history. Monday night was more about a compact Bedford side who produced a solid game. It was rewarded at the stroke of half time as a poor clearance allowed Bedford to fire the ball into the back of the net.
This clearly fired the Blues up, with coach and captain being typically vocal, and they entered the second half with much more purpose. They started to boss the game, with Hylands being instrumental, and were rewarded by a goal from Baxter. Baxter nearly had a second a minute later but the Blues’ second arrived a little later as a nice passing move resulted in a goal for Johnson. The captain’s determination shone through brightly.
They are going to need all of this determination if they are going to make it a league and cup double. Victory here would have done a lot to cement this hope but a late Bedford goal ultimately tarnished the night, leaving the Blues with work to do for promotion.
Michael Alhadeff – Deputy Sports Editor