A dramatic 99th minute winner from Hugh Alban-Jones kept Bedford Town top of Southern League Central Division One on a see-saw afternoon in a wet Hertfordshire on Saturday afternoon.
The opponents were fifth-placed Ware who won the reverse fixture at the Eyrie in September and posed a tough challenge for Gary Setchell’s men, who continue to hold a slender advantage over Berkhamsted at the top of the division.
The festive period proved fruitful for the Eagles; Rene Howe’s solitary goal giving them victory against St Neots Town on New Year’s Day following a 1-1 draw against Biggleswade.
Today’s game however proved to be a step up; Ware showing they have quality as they went into today’s game off the back of a scintillating 5-0 away win last time out.
Hugh Alban-Jones, who would prove to be the decisive factor, opened the scoring on the half hour mark with a powerful finish off the post to give Bedford Town the lead.
A second goal was ruled out as Joe Butterworth swept home soon after, with the game becoming fractious and hot-headed; the half-time whistle coming at the right time for the referee.
Bedford Town refuse to accept defeat
Bedford Town have proved to close out a lot of games relatively comfortably this season, but Ware have a fearsome attacking line that proved to nearly shock the table toppers.
Liam Dulson equalised for the hosts before Josh Williams latched on to a long ball to slot home past Alex Street to give Ware the lead with fifteen minutes to go.
With the scoreline at 2-1 as the clock ticked past ninety minutes, fans of the Eagles were gearing up for a rare loss before the drama turned up a notch.
Rene Howe, who has gone past 20 goals for the season, equalised from the penalty spot in the 94th minute to apparently secure a hard fought point for the Eagles.
But with five minutes remaining on the injury time clock, there was still time for more as Alban-Jones dispatched a Howe cross to send the Bedford dugout into delirium.
It was a stunning finish, and perhaps a touch harsh on the hosts to lose in such cruel fashion, but Gary Setchell and his team will not care as they hold on to the top spot.
With challengers Berkhamsted drawing 1-1 against North Leigh, Bedford Town are five points ahead at the top of the league, although Berkhamsted have two key games in hand.
Bedford Town are in Hertfordshire again next weekend, against Hertford Town who lost to Kempston Rovers this afternoon to give the Walnuts a key win towards the bottom of the league.
Adam Drakulic had given Kempston the lead in the first half only for Obinna Ogbonna to equalise for the hosts.
Tremayne Charles’ late winner gave Rovers the victory to give them a six-point cushion over Wantage Town and Colney Heath in the relegation zone.