Both Real Bedford Men and Real Bedford Ladies were knocked out of the FA Vase and the FA Cup over Saturday and Sunday on a bumper weekend of cup football at McMullen Park which ended in disappointment.
Both sides are top of their respective leagues, but attention turned to the cup this weekend as the men hosted Biggleswade United in the second round of the FA Vase.
The Women faced a monstrous task to advance in the FA Cup as they hosted Billericay Town; a club two steps above Real in their first ever fixture in the first round proper of the competition.
Quality shows for accomplished Billericay
They had advanced to this stage after an impressive 4-0 dismantling of Stevenage in the third qualifying round but the quality took a big step up as they welcomed Billericay Town of the FA Women’s National League, two tiers above the Pirates, to McMullen Park on Sunday afternoon.
To offer some context of the quality Dean Perrett’s side were up against, Billericay’s last game ended in a 9-0 thrashing of Southampton, an established club in their own right and Town sit above the likes of Plymouth Argyle and Cardiff City in their league standings.
Ruby Sealey opened the scoring for the visitors in the opening minute of the game and from there, the Essex side did not look back.
A second strike from Sealey after ten minutes left a mountain to climb for Real and despite reaching the half-time interval at just two goals down, late goals from Maddie Briggs and a brace from player of the match, Amber Gaylor resulted in a 5-0 loss for Bedford.
It would have gone down as the shock of the round had the Pirates pulled it off, but attention now turns back to protecting their 100% record in the league although they do face a League Cup fixture next against Wootton Blue Cross.
A day before, the Men were favourites to advance to the third round of the FA Vase but came unstuck against a strong Biggleswade United outfit who won 7-6 on penalties after a 2-2 draw could not separate the sides.
Coree Wilson put the visitors ahead just before half-time but Real hit back almost immediately through the in-form Ben Stevens to take the two sides into half-time level.
Real took the lead on the hour mark thanks to Tom Wood, whose effort looked to have been kept out only for the linesman to award the goal and the score remained 2-1 before drama in the final moments.
Charlie Smith was given the opportunity to kill the game after 88 minutes as Bedford were awarded a penalty, but it was saved by Tom Wyant in the United goal before Biggleswade went up the other end and equalised, again through Wilson.
That took the game to penalties and while Biggleswade blinked first after having their fourth penalty saved by Tyler McGregor, Smith had the opportunity to make amends but had his penalty saved again for Real to make it 4-4 after five penalties apiece.
Two more penalties were scored by both sides before Bedford’s Lewis Burgess missed the decisive spot kick to take Biggleswade through to the next round of the FA Vase.
Rob Sinclair was pragmatic in his post-match interview, saying his side “dominated the game” but “that’s football” in commenting on the penalty shoot out loss.
“It’s hard when you lose on penalties, but that’s football. We’re disappointed to go out; it’s a competition we wanted to do well in but all eyes on the league now and hopefully we can continue that good form.”
The men are also back in cup action in the Gladwish Challenge Trophy as they travel to Wellingborough Whitworth before returning to league action next Saturday at home to Aylesbury Dynamos.