Batchelor’s the boy as United stretch their unbeaten run

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Biggleswade United extended their unbeaten run to eight games and continued to consolidate their position in the top half with a 2-2 draw on a difficult pitch at Cockfosters on Saturday.

That is a remarkable achievement considering the fairly dismal opening third of the season which had supporters fearing the prospect of a frenetic battle for survival as the season approached its climax. By contrast, Cristian Colás’ men have launched a late surge on the top six with the Spaniard’s coaching ideas and methods yielding the results that had eluded him in the preliminary stages of his reign. Saturday’s stalemate at Chalk Lane was further evidence of that even if United couldn’t secure all three points after taking the lead in both halves and squandering it.

The first of those goals came early in the first period as Scott Batchelor won a free kick around 30 yards out before he latched onto a header back across goal off the initial delivery from Matt Cooper. The teenager then slotted the ball into the far corner to reward United’s positive start with the opening goal.

The hosts gradually began to gain a foothold in the game but were almost two down when a diagonal ball sent Lucas Joyce in behind down the left hand side. The corner that followed found Nyasha Sagwete in the middle but the dominant centre back couldn’t get enough purchase on the header to divert goalwards.

Fosters responded with their first shot of the game as Ikem Odeh forced a superb save out of Tom Wyant as the MK Dons scholar dived to his left to keep out his placed effort. Looking to build on that first sign of attacking intent, the home side took control of the game briefly with Ben Spaul blazing over after Wyant’s clearing punch presented the ‘Fosters’ skipper with the opportunity from range.

Their pressure eventually paid dividends as Odeh met a simple cross from the left hand side to nod home. Following that ideal start United had failed to get a firm grip on proceedings and despite the imposing presence of Sagwete they couldn’t prevent their hosts finding the equaliser.

Frazer John almost inflicted further damage on the United rearguard as his curling shot from the edge of the area just evaded the far post.

The lack of incisiveness going forward was evident in the away side particularly as they battled the opposition and the surface. Batchelor’s claims for penalty were swiftly refuted on the rare occasion they managed to work their way into the Fosters penalty area with the goalscorer believing he’d been pulled down illegally.

It was the ‘Fosters’ who ended the half on the front foot with Tom Massey forcing a save out of Wyant with a shot on the slide. Moments later, a scramble in the United area saw the ball cleared off the line as the hosts failed to capitalise on several good opportunities within about 30 seconds.

United began the second period in the same manner as the first and almost regained the lead when Kane Farrell received the ball from a corner before crossing towards Matt Cooper, who headed wide. They did take the lead soon after, however, as a good move started by Sagwete culminated in Batchelor bearing down on goal before his tame shot was parried into the path of Joyce to tap into an empty net.

An inability to build upon their advantage would ultimately prove costly again for United as the home side set about finding an equaliser for the second time. The impressive Johnny Sexton’s fizzed cross drifted wide of the far post and Gary Simmonds saw his drilled shot from range also go out for a goal kick, prior to the goal which restored parity from Callum Lee. The right back scuffed his shot into far bottom corner with the aid of a deflection as United rued some lacklustre defending.

The game was finely poised entering the final twenty-five minutes with both sides creating opportunities to win it. United skipper Lee Bilcock slid in to shoot but his effort went harmlessly wide before Odeh had the chance to double his tally but could only find the keeper’s gloves.

The referee then brandished the first card of the game as Liam Sweeney conceded a free kick in fairly dangerous position but the effort sailed comfortably over the bar. Another instance of a lack of quality in the final third which eluded both teams as they pursued a late winner.

Cameron Ferguson committed the second bookable offence of the afternoon soon after as his pleas for a penalty were instead met with a yellow card for simulation.

Mohammed Hashim and Sexton had the best chances for their respective sides in the closing minutes with the former blasting over as the ball broke for him on the edge of the D. The subsequent shot by Sexton was fired over after the ball was laid into him on the left hand side of the area as the game drew to a climax.

With the way the match transpired a draw was probably a fair result between two well matched teams competing towards the right end of the table. Although, when you manage to go in front twice in a game and fail to see it out there will inevitably be a sense of frustration and with the majority of sides around United in the league table securing positive results, that feeling will only be heightened. However, the unbeaten run continues and the incredible form overall since early November does as well with forty-three points now amassed from the past eighteen games- the best record in the division during that period. They’ll be looking to extend that on Wednesday night when they meet Welwyn Garden City at Herns Lane in the rescheduled fixture from last week, KO 7.45pm.