Lobjoit scores again as Bedford Town take title race to the final day

Leon Lobjoit celebrates with Liam Dulson after scoring a penalty at Leighton Town
Leon Lobjoit celebrates opening the scoring Image: Simon Gill / Bedford Town FC

Lee Bircham made a successful return to Bell Close as his Bedford Town side comfortably saw off a lacklustre Leighton Town on Saturday afternoon, taking the title race to the final weekend.

A goal from the spot from Leon Lobjoit opened the scoring for the Eagles before Kyle Connolly put away a second to cement a pivotal victory at the top of Southern League Central Division One.

With their hopes of securing top spot riding on the result of this weekend’s game, there was little to no room for error for Bedford Town.

Form was on their side, with twelve points from a possible fifteen in their last five games. They have particularly impressed in their previous two matches in which they have scored a staggering twelve goals.

On the other side of the dugout was a Leighton Town team with fading motivation having already avoided the drop in their first campaign back in the fourth step of English non-league football.

Recent results have seen them gradually sink into the bottom five with a rather underwhelming one point from their last six league matches.

Lobjoit continues fine form

There were 800 fans packed into Bell Close, with the Eagles bringing a typically impressive faction of away supporters to boost an already booming atmosphere. The early noise and excitement came to a crescendo just 11 minutes in.

Liam Dulson slipped in Ryan Blake who was too quick for Leighton’s three centre-backs leaving their keeper, Xavier Comas-Leon, with no choice but to chop down the Bedford number seven.

The referee pointed to the spot and dished out a yellow to the Spanish shot-stopper despite calls for his dismissal from the Eagles fans behind the goal.

Leon Lobjoit dispatched it expertly to move him up to 15 goals for Bedford Town this season since his arrival in January. He sits just one short of Blake in the race for top scorer with a game to go. 

From that point onwards, the first half offered up very little in the way of goalscoring opportunities, especially for the home side, who didn’t get a sniff of Mark White’s goal thanks to Bedford’s resolute defensive unit, which included captain, Alex Collard for the first time in three matches.

A minor bust-up on the stroke of half-time prompted hopes of a slightly more well-contested second half, with it being a complete walkover for the away side until that point.

Leon Lobjoit scores a penalty for Bedford Town against Leighton Town at Bell Close
Leon Lobjoit scores the opener from the penalty spot Image: Simon Gill / Bedford Town FC

Nothing of the sort came to fruition as Bedford began the second half as dominantly as they finished the first.

Five minutes into the second half, Blake found himself on the Eagles’ left, making inroads against Luke Pyman. He worked it to the by-line and cut it back for Kyle Connolly who curled a brilliant left-footed out-swinging shot into the far corner of the net to extend Bedford’s lead. 

Along with the enthusiasm of the home support, the Leighton Town performance took a major dip following the goal.

Their passing became sloppy, seldom stringing together more than three in the Bedford half, and even their shining light, Harry Williams, began to show signs of defeat.

Despite the match altogether fizzling out for the remaining 40 minutes, Bedford Town’s attitude was epitomised with just seconds left on the clock.

A ball swung into the box from Leighton’s Louie Barrett was met in the middle by substitute Finley Jaggard. It seemed a certain goal but Mark White produced a magnificent save to keep the Town clean sheet intact.

The players rushed to him to celebrate as the final whistle rang out.

Moments after that, the players were clapping the away end’s support and joining in their chants. Even if Bedford Town end up in the playoffs, it feels as though positive momentum has struck at just the right time.

Final day drama in store

Bedford Town have one game remaining this season at home against North Leigh next weekend.

As it stands they sit just three points behind league leaders Biggleswade Town, who beat North Leigh 4-0 away from home, with the Eagles two goals better off when it comes to goal difference.

The Waders still have the rather large obstacle of third-placed Ware to overcome before they can be crowned champions, with a loss allowing Bedford Town the chance to snatch the title if they can seal victory at the Eyrie.

Tickets for Bedford Town’s final league game of the season against North Leigh are available here.

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