Eagles and Real both strike late to post key wins in title races

Leon Lobjoit playing for Bedford Town at Ware in March 2024
Leon Lobjoit is back in the goals for Bedford Town Image: Simon Gill

Both Bedford Town and Real Bedford struck late to stay on track in their respective title races on a key Tuesday evening of non-league football in the Borough.

At this stage of the season, games are fitting in to the ‘must win’ category; none more so than Bedford Town’s home game against bottom side, Thame United and despite losing the lead twice, they scored late to gain all three points.

Real’s encounter was even more dramatic as Tom Hitchcock scored twice very late on to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Colney Heath in St Albans and maintain their eight point advantage over chasing Milton Keynes Irish.

Dasilva decides tie

Lee Bircham and his side have faltered in recent weeks and given away the league lead to Biggleswade Town in Southern League Central Division One, and Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Ware ramped up the pressure.

Thame United presented the perfect opportunity to bounce back but the Oxfordshire side caused some problems before Dasilva’s late goal settled the contest.

Leon Lobjoit, who scored two on Saturday before Bedford Town succumbed to defeat, was back on the scoresheet just three minutes in at The Eyrie before Jefferson Louis bundled home to equalise for the visitors.

Carl Mensah’s flicked header early in the second half restored the Eagles advantage but when Mark Riddick once again equalised, there was a familiar feeling in the air at the Eyrie that this wasn’t to be Bedford’s night.

That was until Rio Desilva latched on to a long ball, sidestepped his marker and coolly slotted home to give Bedford Town an unassailable 3-2 lead and a vital three points in the context of the title race.

The win became even more important when news from Biggleswade Town came in, as they had two men sent off in losing 2-1 at home to Cirencester. Bedford Town are now two points behind, although Biggleswade Town do have a game in hand.

The Eagles and Biggleswade Town face off at the Carlsberg Stadium on Easter Monday, but not before Lee Bircham’s side face another tricky home fixture against play off chasing, Waltham Abbey this Saturday.

Real late show seals huge win

Over in Hertfordshire, Real Bedford were looking to capitalise on a slight MK Irish wobble as they faced mid-table side, Colney Heath but were up against it for ninety minutes before a stunning finish.

Heath had taken the lead on the stroke of half time as Dixon Smith’s pinpoint cross found George Sippetts to slide home and Real spent the second half chasing an equaliser.

Ben Stevens and Charlie Smith stand over a free kick as the rain comes down Image: Real Bedford FC

To their credit, the home side defended exquisitely but they could not hold on for ninety minutes as Tom Hitchcock scored what may be the most important double of the season.

Conditions for football were atrocious; had it not been towards the 90th minute, the game would surely have been abandoned as puddles started to form across the pitch but Rob Sinclair and his side were glad that it wasn’t as they pulled off the ultimate smash and grab.

Hitchcock equalised in similar fashion to the Colney goal after 88 minutes and while there were celebrations, they didn’t match those that came in the 94th minute as Hitchcock repeated the feat, getting to the ball before the Heath goalkeeper to nod home and spark scenes of pandemonium in the pouring rain.

It sealed an unbelievable 2-1 win, and with Irish matching them, it was much-needed. While Real remain eight points clear at the top of Spartans South Midlands Premier, the Buckinghamshire side still have three games in hand.

Walnuts take a beating

Elsewhere, the great escape at Kempston Rovers took a stutter as they were thrashed 6-1 at home by an improving Hadley side.

Four first half goals stunned the Walnuts, as Isaac Stones, Germaine Dua, Caoilan McGettigan and Luke Alfano ended the match as a contest and when Stones added his second followed by a sixth for Finley Aldridge, the writing was on the wall.

When Edwin Daffern added a consolation, the game was over but Kempston Rovers are still outside the relegation zone; one point ahead of Kidlington and two ahead of Thame United.

Kempston Rovers host Cirencester on Saturday, and tickets can be purchased on the gate at Hillgrounds.

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