A goal in each half from Tom Cookman and Tom Coles helped Biggleswade FC to a confidence-boosting 2-0 win over Harpenden Town last Thursday night.
After promotion from Division One last season, both clubs have had impressive campaigns this term. Recent form has however, seen FC slip 11 points behind their evening’s opponents - albeit with games in hand.
Harpenden’s charge to fourth-place has been built on the goalscoring exploits of James Ewington, who has a great chance of clinching the League’s Golden Boot award with his 35 goals thus far. It was his early run in behind that produced the match’s first chance. The ball sat up kindly for him to apply the finishing lob over Dan Green, but he didn’t get the contact he wanted.
FC hit the front in the seventh minute with a goal of real quality. A good move put Tom Coles through on the left side of the penalty area and his volley crashed back off the crossbar. Pat McCafferty followed up with a low drive that was well-saved, but Tom Cookman was on hand to thump home his 15th goal of the season from close range.
The visitors may have suffered the early setback, but they were giving as good as they got - in particular from set-pieces. A good free-kick in from the right had Darren Woodend defending well to head the ball behind in his own six-yard box.
FC had their best chance to double the lead on 33 minutes. A lovely through ball on the left side of the box had Lee Northfield bursting through, but Samson did well to smother the danger.
After their let off at the other end, Ewington wasted a similar chance to the one he had early in the game, this time with an attempted lob sailing just over. However, FC were indebted to keeper Dan Green when he thwarted Ewington five minutes before the break.
Having lost Cookman to injury at the break, Harpenden would have hoped to get themselves back into the game in the second period, but they soon found themselves 2-0 behind with another well-crafted goal from the hosts. Working the ball through the middle, Alex Marsh and Lee Northfield combined. The latter perfectly threaded the ball into the path of Tom Coles, who guided a curling finish past Samson from just inside the left hand edge of the penalty area.
Biggleswade now had their tails up and further intricate work from Northfield and Marsh found the run of George Riley. The midfielder burst into the box before striking well left-footed, but Samson was equal to it with a smart diving save to his right.
The game then became very open with play ebbing from end to end. Man of the Match Darren Woodend made a couple of sound blocks from decent Harpenden crosses to keep the clean sheet intact. Harpenden then had a free header from a corner, but the ball sailed over.
FC were now happy playing on the counter attack and Ryan Inskip forced a save out of the keeper after a good break from Tom Coles. Alex Marsh was then denied after FC had just about managed to scramble the ball away, making a bit of a hash of defending a corner. From the resulting clearance, Lee Northfield picked out Marsh who surged through one-on-one, but again Samson was up to the task.
Dan Green, who was close to the MOM award himself, made two excellent saves in the last few minutes.