Most of Bedford’s teams will be on pitch for their final matches this weekend, as the hockey league nears its culmination.
Even with the end so close, however, it was all still to play for as the teams stepped out for their games last weekend (16/17 March), jostling for their final placing in the league tables.
First out on pitch, in incredibly blustery conditions, were the Ladies’ 3s. Bishops Stortford proved a tough opposition for them and, whilst Bedford made numerous driving attacks, they failed to convert them into goals.
It was thanks to solid defensive play by Bedford that Stortford were, also, prevented from scoring, the outcome being a goalless draw.
The 3s, who are sitting comfortably mid-table, will be back at Chester Road this weekend, expecting yet another tough fixture, as they take on third in the table Welwyn.
The Men’s 4s and 5s were the next two teams in action. The first goal for the Men’s 5s came within minutes of the start of their match against Luton Town.
This was followed, shortly after, by a second. Several great saves by the young keeper ensured that Luton were prevented from getting onto the score sheet. 2-0 to Bedford, leaving them second in their league, alongside West Herts.
The 5s final match of the season sees them head away to take on top of the table, and already promoted, Southgate.
The Men’s 4s game versus St Alban’s made interesting viewing. It began with two early goals from Bedford, both from short corners.
Possibly, frustrated by this, the opposition’s goalie proceeded to argue, constantly, with the umpires. St Alban’s pulled 2 goals back, but Bedford maintained a goal advantage after a third goal by them.
Despite warnings, the keeper continued his verbal abuse on the umpires, ultimately leaving no option but a yellow card. The St Alban’s defence stepped up their game and, ironically, became stronger than when their keeper was on pitch.
Bedford’s attackers, on the other hand, failed to take advantage of the situation, hitting the post and sending the ball wide, managing to net just two further goals. Final score, 5-2 to Bedford.
The 4s, also, sit 2nd in their table, with one game to play this weekend, away to Hertford.
Another tough ladies’ match followed, the Ladies’ 6s battling it out with higher in the table Broxbourne.
Strong attacking play by Sally Olney and a stunning performance in goal by youngster, Amelia, ensured Broxbourne were held to a very respectable 2-2 draw.
Bedford’s final match will be a trek across to Potters Bar, a mid-table position assured for the Bedford team.
After already being guaranteed their promotion, the Ladies’ 2s got a flavour for what next season will demand of them, when they took on rivals, and league champions, Cambridge University, who will be heading up to the Premier Division with Bedford.
Cambridge put on a dominant display, being dangerous on the break and, whilst Bedford had chances, they failed to get past the Cambridge keeper.
On a positive note, Grace Brady, a regular in the Under 16s squad, had her debut appearance with the 2s, and didn’t disappoint, putting in a great performance.
The score at the final whistle, 3-0 to Cambridge University. This weekend, sees the 2s travel away to Ipswich for their final match of the season.
The Men’s 6s managed a fantastic result in their penultimate match, against second in the table West Herts, taking the victory 3-2. This weekend, they head over to St Albans, hoping to end their season mid-table.
On the show-pitch, it was a mammoth game for the Men’s 1s, as they took on Cambridge University.
The outcome was pivotal to Bedford’s push for National League status, and what a skirmish it was. Moments of ecstasy and anguish alternated between the two teams, as goals were scored.
Both opted for the tactical move of removing their keepers for a period, reinforcing their offensive forces. As the minutes ticked by, Bedford found themselves ahead of Cambridge and longing for the final whistle to blow.
It was the Cambridge team who were to be left in anguish, Bedford taking the victory 4 goals to 3. This weekend will see another battle for Bedford, away to Cambridge City.
In the Men’s away games, the newly promoted 2s failed to maintain their dominant form, going 3-1 down away to Wapping.
The 3s took a 2-1 win against Royston, whilst the Men’s Vets achieved a phenomenal 6-2 victory over Blueharts,
It was a less than successful trip to Cambridge for the Ladies’ 1s, taking a 10-0 beating from the Cambridge City side. The two other ladies’ away matches, thankfully, ended with more positive outcomes.
The 4s, having been promoted for the past two consecutive seasons, are sitting third in their table after holding Aylesbury to a goalless draw.
The 5s, also sitting third in their table, returned home elated after a 4-3 victory over Tring. The 5s still have two games to play before their season ends and are biting at the heels of St Albans in second place.
Words: Jean Fitch