Real Bedford face FA Cup replay but nine-man Kempston through

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Real Bedford in action at FC Clacton in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round in August 2023
Image: Real Bedford / Twitter

The FA Cup kicked off at the weekend, with 208 ties across the country in the Extra Preliminary Round and while most ties were played, Real Bedford’s tie in Clacton was a victim of Storm Antoni as it was called off for a waterlogged pitch.

The rearranged tie took place last night (Tuesday) but the two sides will have to meet again after Real snatched a late draw and secured a replay back at McMullen Park thanks to Josh Setchell’s 84th minute equaliser.

Late drama

After early chances for Real’s Ben Stevens were spurned, it was Clacton who took the lead through Mekhi McKenzie although Real’s captain, Luke Knight levelled almost immediately from a corner to make it one apiece.

Jake Clowsley restored the Seasiders’ lead shortly after the break and it looked to have been enough for the team from the Essex Senior League to make it through to the Preliminary Round only for Josh Setchell to take the game to a replay after coolly slotting home as he found himself through on goal.

That wasn’t the end to the drama either, as Knight found himself sent off after an altercation celebrating the equaliser and he will now miss the replay back in Bedford.

The Real Bedford fixture list is already getting congested… Image: Real Bedford / Twitter

With a replay to fit in, the Real fixture list is already behind schedule as the Pirates face Cockfosters in the Spartans South Midlands Premier Division on Saturday, before having to rearrange a home game against Baldock Town to fit in the Clacton replay before the next scheduled round of the FA Cup.

Then, the FA Vase kicks into action as Real host Rothwell Corinthians at McMullen Park, while Real will face Milton Keynes Irish for the second time this season if they come through their replay with FC Clacton.

Rovers survive scare to progress

Despite being in the same part of the country as Real, Kempston Rovers’ game against Harleston Town went ahead on Saturday and they secured a fantastic win despite playing over half an hour with nine men.

Samuel Ezemwaka’s smart finish put Rovers up on the half hour mark, and then a brace either side of half time from Arel Amu seemingly put the tie to bed but two red cards inside ten minutes put the cat amongst the pigeons.

Taishan Griffith’s red card for violent conduct just after the interval gave the visitors a boost and when James Lauder followed him in controversial fashion eight minutes later, Harleston sensed a way back in.

However, Rovers held on until the 85th minute and the game was all but done when they conceded a second in the fifth minute of added time where they held on for the win.

The 3-2 victory sees the Walnuts through the Preliminary Round for the second successive season where they will host Biggleswade FC, who also play in Southern League Central Division One.

The Eagles join the party

Bedford Town join the FA Cup at the Preliminary Round stage and face a long trip east to face Mulbarton Wanderers of the Eastern Counties Premier League.

Their league campaign kicks off this Saturday at The Eyrie as Lee Bircham’s side host Kidlington with the Eagles looking to bounce straight back up to the seventh tier of English football.