Biggleswade United began 2017 in disappointing fashion by suffering a 1-0 home defeat to struggling Leighton Town.
On a bitterly cold afternoon at Second Meadow, Cristian Colas’ team were made to pay for wasted early chances and a second half penalty miss when Martin Griggs’ long range strike flew past home keeper Tom Wyant.
It handed the visitors a valuable win in their fight against relegation, but for United it was a second loss in as many matches.
For all their games in hand on their Spartans South Midlands Premier Division rivals, it will now take something special for Colas and his players to have any kind of impact on the promotion race this season.
United began proceedings on Bank Holiday Monday on the front foot, with Charlie Joy’s right-footed drive from outside the area stinging the palms of visiting goalkeeper Jack Sillitoe.
While Leighton’s Lorrell Smith blazed over when well placed soon after, it was mostly one way traffic in the other direction as United created but failed to convert a host of first half opportunities.
Nick Eliott’s fine volley brought another good save from Sillitoe, while the shot-stopper was again at his best moments later to deny Lee Bilcock from the resulting corner.
Sillitoe had to be alert once more to tip Eliotts’ attempted cross over the bar, before Joy beat the keeper but not the woodwork when his header came back off the post.
A goalmouth scramble shortly before half-time ended with the Leighton defence eventually clearing away to safety, but there was still time for the visitors to land their sucker punch.
There didn’t appear to be too much danger when the ball landed at the feet of Griggs some 25 yards out, but the Leighton captain struck a superb dipping volley which gave Wyant no chance and found the top corner of the net.
The second half was a more even affair, with the visitors looking just as likely to extend their lead as Biggleswade were to finding an equaliser.
Griggs’ free kick went just wide, while Louis Norton was also narrowly off target as Leighton went close to doubling their advantage.
At the other end, Matt Cooper’s effort was deflected just over the bar, but it was ten minutes from time that United were handed their golden opportunity to snatch a share of the points.
Eliott was brought down by Leighton’s Jack Copson as he looked to get to the byline, with the referee immediately pointing to the spot. Following a brief moment of confusion as the whistle- blower then decided to confer with his linesman to ensure he had made the correct decision, the award of the penalty was confirmed.
Eliott picked himself up to assume responsibility, but although he sent Sillitoe the wrong way his powerful drive came back off the crossbar. It was the latest in a string of missed penalties which have hindered United’s efforts to climb the league table of late.
Man of the match contender Sillitoe was required to make one last intervention, doing well to keep out Martin Russell’s deflected shot, before the final whistle sounded on a bad day at the office for United.
They have a chance to return to winning ways with a trip to Oxhey Jets on Saturday.