Biggleswade United took the spoils on derby day with a narrow 3-2 win over neighbours Stotfold in an eventful clash on Saturday.
Having been starved of first team football at Second Meadow for a month, the home faithful were treated to five goals, two red cards and ultimately another encouraging result.
Biggleswade definitely had the better of the first half but Stotfold came back strongly in the second period to ensure a tense finish to this SSML Premier clash.
It was always going to be tricky to get the ball down and play in difficult conditions and so it proved, with very little quality on display and the ball bouncing and bobbling all over the park.
It was the hosts who broke the deadlock in the 17th minute with one of the most bizarre goals scored all year.
The ball drifted in the wind sending Tom Cookman through on goal, whose first touch gave the defender the opportunity to steal only for him to hammer it back off the United frontman and into the net past the despairing Adam Harpur in the Stotfold goal.
The impressive Charlie Joy nearly doubled their lead when his delivery found Tom Bryant at the back post, who couldn’t quite place his first time effort in the bottom corner.
Lee Bilcock couldn’t get enough purchase on a header when Elliot’s clipped free kick picked him out as another chance came and went. He wouldn’t be denied an assist much longer, however, as his beautifully weighted pass put Joy through to lob the ball past the keeper and score a precious goal against his old club.
Seven minutes into the second period United had a third, courtesy of Nyasha Sagwete. The centre back finished from close range on the volley after meeting Drakulić’s cross to surely establish an unassailable lead for the home side.
However, the match’s course was altered in the 56th minute when a strong challenge by Jake Long on Drakulić saw Cookman retaliate aggressively in defence of his teammate. Consequently, both men saw red with Long dismissed for his recklessness in the tackle whilst Cookman took an early bath for his involvement in the aftermath.
The game seemed to swing in favour of Stotfold following that unsavoury incident and they notched for the first time when Paul Morris fed top scorer Ben L’Honore and he drilled past United keeper Tom Wyant. He almost bagged another seconds later as he volleyed over from Anthony Wright’s cross.
Head coach for the day, in the absence of Cristian Colás, Stuart Bimson then replaced Bryant with Charlie Black to offer slightly more of a physical presence up top following Cookman’s dismissal.
Debutant John McFarlin arrived in the 75th minute in place of Liam Sweeney as Stotfold began to apply sustained pressure on the United goal. L’Honore headed wide from a corner before Morris peeled off at the back post but failed to pick out a yellow shirt with his cut back.
L’Honore headed wide from a corner once more as the away side’s prospects of recovering the match drifted further away .
However he set up a tense finish as the game moved into injury time. L’Honore won a free kick on the edge of the box - then got up to bury it in the bottom corner.
His side continued to press with United restricted to defending the width of their penalty area but the hosts clung on to secure another vital three points.
Both sides were denied the chance to play again this week – Biggleswade United’s trip to Hadley on Monday and Stotfold’s home fixture against Holmer Green on Tuesday both fell victim to the weather.
On Saturday United travel to Broxbourne Borough while Stotfold head to Sun Sports. On Tuesday they are both on the road again - Stotfold at Tring Athletic and Biggleswade at London Tigers.