Blake double not enough for Eagles against relegation-threatened Hadley

Image: Bedford Town

A spectacular double from Ryan Blake didn’t suffice for Bedford Town on Saturday as goals from McGettigan and Rolfe in the last half-an-hour secured a vital three points for relegation-threatened Hadley.

After a fortnight in which they signed two players of Dasilva descent and failed two Eyrie pitch inspections, as well as securing an away draw with Stotfold, Bedford Town had all the firepower and frustration necessary to secure all three points. 

They were facing a Hadley side fresh off the back of a resounding six-nil thumping of North Leigh; a team who were at one point, title contenders.

It was their largest recorded win in the fourth step of non-league and provided them with the impetus they needed to put up a fight against top of the division.  

There were plenty in black and red who had made the hour-long trip to the Eyrie, and they came in good voice, making for a somewhat cacophonous first 15 minutes, but one in which neither side actually had much to shout about.

A couple of headers from Leon Lobjoit were the only notable chances that came the way of either side in the early period, but the Eagles’ number 10 couldn’t convert.

The game sprang to life in the 26th minute when Lewis Green guided a perfect ball from the right flank into the path of Ryan Blake who prodded it past the Hadley goalkeeper Charlie Taylor for 1-0.

Out of almost nothing, Green and Blake had combined to provide a moment worthy of the lead.

It wouldn’t be until the lead up to half time that there was another talking point, this time in the form of a Hadley penalty. Billy Hayes found a ball into the box for fan’s favourite Isaac Stones, who went down under the challenge of Jemale McKenzie-Lowe. 

The referee deemed it a penalty and a booking however wasn’t seen in the same light by those in blue and white, who insisted that McKenzie-Lowe had won the ball. Contentious decision or not, the Hadley penalty was converted by their captain, Luke Alfano. 

Two minutes later, the rowdy away end’s celebrations were cut short by a goal at the other end. This time it was Lobjoit who deftly dinked it through for Blake, and he made no mistake, rolling it into the bottom left of the net to restore a timely advantage for Bedford.

Just before the half time break, The Hadley faithful sang “We’re gonna win three-two” in an attempt to rally their forlorn players. Little did they know that their chant would come to fruition in the second forty-five.

Hadley clear of drop after comeback

Despite the promising re-introduction of Carl Mensah for Bedford Town in the second half, who had been out with a hamstring problem since late February, Bedford weren’t able to stop Hadley from hitting the net. 

After wasted opportunities in the early second-half exchanges, Bedford town were pegged back by a piece of sheer brilliance from Caolin McGettigan.

He received the ball thirty yards from goal and instinctively drove at the heart of the Bedford town defence, rolling past one on to his right foot before jinking back onto his left and clouting in a corker at the near post to equalise for the Barnet-based side.

Hadley’s momentum was almost negated by Bradley Marriot just minutes later, as he saw his attempted clearance of a Cole Dasilva cross, loop over his head and towards his own goal.

Charlie Taylor came to his rescue, reaching back and palming the ball onto the post before it crossed the goal line.  

In the 70th minute, Marriot’s defensive compatriot and former eagle Jay Rolfe arrived undetected at the back post to head home from a free-kick delivered by McGettigan.

Despite representing them as recently last month, Rolfe did not show any remorse for dealing out a killer blow in Bedford’s race for the title.

The closest that Bedford came to a leveller was a shot off the woodwork from substitute Louis Walsh with 10 minutes to go.

Apart from that Hadley were very switched on in defence and gave Bedford barely any joy down the wings which is where they would typically find it.

The loss means that the pressure is building alongside the fixture list for Bircham’s side.

They have left the door open for Biggleswade Town at the top of the table as well who didn’t have a game this weekend but could go top with a win from their game in hand. 

The Eagles will look to bounce back in midweek against AFC Dunstable on Tuesday in one of their many rearranged home fixtures.

Keep Local news Alive in Bedfordshire