Biggleswade United prepared for their FA Cup game in perfect fashion with a 1-0 win at Colney Heath on Saturday
Colney Heath are clearly looking to put the struggles of last season, that saw them stave off relegation in the final week, well and truly behind them by gathering together a collection of experienced players including five former United players and a former United coach in Mark Royal.
And on Saturday, it took an 83rd minute goal from Josh Sturniolo to tip the scales in United’s favour after a closely fought encounter that could have seen the score end 6-6 but for some erratic finishing and excellent goalkeeping.
The opening period saw defences from both sides under pressure but the hosts edged the attempts on goal with their best chance falling in the 23rd minute when a good passage of play from “The Magpies” saw United ‘keeper, Tom Wyant, block a final effort from Charncey Dash.
United had to wait until the 27th minute for their clearest chance at goal – despite making several inroads in to the Colney penalty area. A superb cut through pass from Sergio Urbano saw Charlie Black go one on one with home custodian, Emanuel Olajide, but the powerful keeper managed to clear with his boot.
On the half hour mark, Nick Elliot, tried his luck from distance but once again Olajide managed to get a glove to the strike and from the resulting corner Charlie Joy turned an effort around the post.
The hosts thoughts they’d taken the lead in the 33rd minute when ex United striker, Reynaldo Carbon, was denied by the post and immediately the counter attack saw Black released down the flank by Urbano but he was denied once again by the alert Olajide.
United’s new signing, experienced striker David Iwediuno, was proving his worth as the United target man to replace former favourite Tom Cookman and in the final minutes of the half he powered his way in to the box to set up Black but the youngster was unable to get a shot away and the sides went in all square at the break.
The second period opened with an element of controversy that goal line technology would have answered. Another 25 yard thunderbolt from Elliot crashed against the Magpies’ crossbar, bounced on the goal line and then hit the upright. United players claimed goal but the assistant waved play and the game resumed with murmurings of “how could he have not called that?”
The 48th minute saw Urbano clear off the line to deny the impressive Dash and Black went close once more as the United striker’s pace saw him leave the Magpies’ defence in his wake but Olajide was quick off his line.
A sad moment for the travelling United supporters came in the 51 st minute when Ashley Grinham pulled up after an innocuous tackle causing a recurring groin injury to flare up once again and he will be spending the next few weeks on the physio bench. James Cooper replaced the unfortunate Grinham and was soon in the thick of it, setting up Iwediuno but the striker saw his effort turned around the upright.
On the hour mark Jake O’Neill replace Joy and with his first touch he latched on to a cross field pass from Kane Farrell and his a superb volley that saw Olajide save at full stratech. United continued to
knock at the Colney door and in the 68 th minute Urbano struck from distance only for the ball to skim off the woodwork.
Play was now moving at a blistering pace as both sides went toe to toe for what everyone believed would be the one winning goal. Wyant’s strong hands denied another chance from Dash and his counterpart, Olajide was fortunate to see a header from United skipper, Lee Bilcock, just miss the mark after another dangerous free kick from Farrell.
With just seven minutes remaining, United finally got the predicted winning goal. However, it took a cluster of chances to finally seal the deal. A rally of efforts in the six yard area saw Iwediuno, Bilcock and Elliot rain in shots but Sturniolo pulled the trigger at United’s fourth attempt side footing the ball in to the net from three yards out to the jubilation of the United players and supporters.
As expected, the hosts threw everything but the kitchen sink at their guests in the final nail biting minutes. Former United brothers, James and Ollie Peters, both went close in their efforts to get their new club a share of the points but once more Wyant and his defensive team were adamant that there was to be yet another clean sheet for Cristian Colas’ men.
The final whistle couldn’t have come sooner for the United contingent as on so many occasions they have been denied three points at this “bogey” ground for the Biggleswade side.
On Saturday United travel to Southern League side Hitchin Town in the first round qualifying of the Emirates FA Cup. Furthermore, the game is significant for charitable purposes as well as spectators can enter on a ‘Pay what you Want’ basis with 10% of the gate receipts being donated to Prostate Cancer UK. Saturday September 3rd also represents the seventh official Non League day and among the guests at Top Field will be Non League Daily editor Mark Carruthers. A busy day off the field but on it United have no reason to fear their hosts and based on the vast improvements made under the newly implemented coaching structure, they should be confident of toppling higher division opposition yet again.