Bedford Town smash seven past Hertford to stay in title race

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Bedford Town celebrate another goal vs Hertford at The Eyrie in April 2024. Bedford Town Players smiling. Image: Simon Gill
Bedford Town are gaining momentum for a likely play off campaign Image: Simon Gill

The Eyrie bore witness to an utter demolition in the battle of the county towns, as seven Bedford goals saw them claim their largest victory of the season in the jostle for position at the top of Southern League Central Division One.

Bedford were well-rested for this fixture, having last played on Easter Monday against league leaders Biggleswade Town, a strenuous away fixture in which they took all three points thanks to a first-half goal from Leon Lobjoit. 

Despite some bright spells this campaign, Hertford Town’s form has imploded recently, with just three points from their previous seven matches coming into this one.

Their inconstancy throughout the season has transpired in them claiming a comfortable mid-table spot, away from the drama of either extreme.

Eagles put Hertford to the sword

Hertford to Bedford is a northern excursion, however, the visitors saw things go south rather rapidly after the first whistle was blown. The Eagles abstained from any form of early deference and hit the front within two minutes.

Stallard strode out to meet a header which fell perfectly into the path of Ryan Blake, who pulled it back for Liam Dulson on the edge of the box, with the number 9 neatly dispatching it to give his side the lead in the April sunshine.

Before the Hertford Town players could so much as catch a breather it was two.

An inch-perfect corner was guided onto the head of an unmarked Lobjoit who flicked it in at the back post for Bedford’s second. The home side were in a ruthless mood, and within six minutes, had the goals to show for it.

Leon Lobjoit Bedford Town Apr24. Image: Simons Gill Goal line celebrations
Image: Simon Gill

A half-hearted Hertford riposte in the following twenty minutes was soon suppressed by the Eagles.

An ill-judged clearance from defender Harry Gilzean was met by Ryan Blake who subsequently fired off a shot at the Hertford goal. It was beaten away by Will Kiers in to the six-yard box, where Kyle Connolly was lurking to lash in a third.

The first two Bedford goals came just four minutes apart, and thanks to Ryan Blake, so did their second two. He took on and beat Morgan Mahoney down the Bedford left before slotting in a fabulous fourth. 

Just seconds after hitting the string and grabbing the ball to celebrate, Blake had a crazed Harry Gilzean’s arms around his neck in what can only be described as a moment of sheer lunacy from the Hertford defender.

Immediately, a bundle of blue shirts swarmed around the two men as the referee sought to intervene in the matter.

The red mist had descended over Gilzean, and consequently, the red card ascended from the referee’s pocket to dismiss him for an early shower. That left the away side one man and four goals down with more than a half of football still to play.

Hertford red card vs Bedford Town Apr24 players celebrating. Image: Simon Gill
Image: Simon Gill

Bircham’s half-time words would have undoubtedly been along the lines of, “more of the same”, and his team certainly delivered.

A depleted and dejected 10-man Hertford Town put up a weak second-half resistance, allowing Bedford to cash in.

After a 13-minute goal drought at the beginning of the second half, Bedford struck once more.

A loose ball was latched on to by Lobjoit, who took his time and picked his spot before thumping in a sumptuous half-volley with Kiers was forced to once again pick the ball out of his own net whilst the Eagles celebrated their fifth of the game.

The excitement of the encounter then slowly plateaued for the next twenty minutes, with very little to comment on at either end.

However, with 10 minutes to go, Bedford piled on the misery for Hertford.

A brilliant Connolly corner was met by a towering Carl Mensah header to equal Bedford’s highest winning goal margin of the season, a record previously set in a 7-1 drubbing of Ware back in September.

Finally, to place the cherry on an already dazzling cake, substitute striker, Jemale McKenzie-Lowe hammered in a left-footed beauty from the edge of the box; a superb addition to an already impressive catalogue of goals on the day.

An outside chance of title glory

It was an ideal performance from Bircham’s men, who will be hoping to carry that momentum into Tuesday night’s game against Welwyn Garden City at The Eyrie. 

As for the title race, that win should renew the Eagles’ hopes, despite a last-gasp winner for Biggleswade Town over Thame United. The gap remains at five points with three games to go, with Bedford Town all but securing a play-off spot with this huge win.