On Saturday Biggleswade United made a dent in Hertford Town’s hopes by taking all three points at Hertingfordbury Park with an impressive team performance.
Although United’s title hopes may have to remain on the back burner for another season, Cristian Colas’ side are certainly going to have an influence as to where the championship finally finds its home come the end of the season.
The 2-0 win has seen them bag four points from from the second placed side. They also have yet to play leaders London Colney and on Saturday host third place Cockfosters.
Determined to keep up the pressure on London Colney, the hosts set out their stall early and United seemed to take their time getting accustomed to the heavy pitch.
Having secured the services of a potent front line of experienced strikers Tommy Wade, Mark Summers and Brett O’Connor, it’s clear the Blues are depending on their goalpower to get them to the top of the pile come May.
However, they came up against a well drilled United back line, guided by skipper Lee Bilcock, and although they found the occasional route through to goal in the opening 20 minutes United keeper Tom Wyant was on top form to deny chances from the formidable trio.
For all their industry in midfield, United found it tough to conjure up the final pass that would unlock an equally stubborn Blues defence and United’s Charlie Joy – playing the unfamiliar role of target man – found himself ploughing a lone farrow for much of the time.
But in the 18th minute he got United’s first real strike away when he linked with Kane Farrell and debutant Kai Gardner to fire at Jayden Purdue’s goal but the experienced custodian bundled the ball away.
Three minutes later a goal looked a certainty when Kevin Owusu’s effort was palmed away by Purdue only to the boot of Nick Elliot who had a clear strike on goal but Purdue blocked once more giving Elliot a second go only for the ball to hit the sidenetting.
Like the dismal weather conditions, the game seemed to be sinking in to a bit of a dirge until a piece of magic saw United take the lead. A run from deep saw Ashley Grinham slice through the Hertford middle pack and release the ball to Elliot just inside the Blues’ half. Taking the ball past two defenders, Elliot spotted Purdue off his line and from 20 yards out he looped the ball over the stranded keeper and into the top of the net via the underside of the crossbar.
As to be expected the hackles rose on the Hertford players and they pushed forward with winger, Tyler Hatherley, the constant danger with his mazy runs. But they came to nothing as United’s pressing game stifled so many of the Hertford attacks with man of the match, Jaiden Irish and Matt Cooper working their proverbial off in the middle of the park.
United were dealt a blow in the 42nd minute when an innocuous tackle saw Elliot retire to the dressing room with a knee injury to be replaced by Charisma Agyemang requiring a shuffle in the pack. The hosts looked good for an equaliser before the break but James Cooper and Bilcock were in supreme form ensuring United kept the lead over tea.
The second period had United digging deep for almost the entire half as the promotion hopefuls pushed forward desperate for the three points that would keep them head to head with London Colney.
However, Colas’ players had not conceded in 180 minutes of football and there was a sheer determination to extend that to 270 minutes. Bilcock and Cooper had everything thrown at them by a frustrated Blues forward line but they were not for breaking even under some hefty challenges.
Then in the 66th minute came an astonishing own goal that silenced the crowd and left the Hertford players stunned. Agyemang chased down a pass from Purdue to Jay Lovell, whereupon the unfortunate full back tried to return the ball only for it to loop over his keepers’ flaying gloves and drop into the net leaving the United players wondering who they should celebrate with.
The Cauldron of Noise – as Hertford Town now like to call their ground – seemed to be working more in United’s favour as they battled for everything despite the baying chants ringing in their ears. The final whistle put an end to the singing as United celebrated a well deserved win that takes them to five wins on the bounce.