Biggleswade United saw off the challenge of Hoddesdon Town 4-2 in a highly entertaining contest at Second Meadow on Saturday.
Having led at half-time through Dave Iwediuno, Cristian Colas’ team were pegged back early in the second period but took full advantage of the visitors being reduced to 10 men to extend their unbeaten run to 11 matches.
On a day also noteworthy for the debut appearance and goal of Norwegian television commentator and former professional player Simen Møller, the result enabled United to leapfrog their opponents from Hertfordshire in the Spartan South Midlands Premier League table.
It was Hoddesdon who had the better of the opening stages with ful-back Tom Connell going close when he burst down the right before firing a shot across home goalkeeper Tom Wyant’s goal. Fortunately for the home side, the ball flew just wide.
Forward Jordan Watson and captain Louis Rose also had decent efforts in the opening 15 minutes, with Wyant then at full stretch to turn Rose’s corner onto the crossbar. United gradually began to see more of the possession and fashioned their first clear opportunity on 25 minutes. Charlie Joy was played in by Kevin Owusu’s delightful through-ball, but having taken the ball around keeper Harry Smart the winger saw his shot blocked by a Hoddesdon defender on the goalline.
Iwediuno then went even closer, wriggling into the penalty area before hitting the outside of the post with a left-footed effort, but the forward did not have to wait much longer to open the scoring.
United’s number nine reacted quickest to Jaiden Irish’s low cross from the right 10 minutes before half-time, flicking the ball over and just out of the reach of Smart to give his side the advantage.
The away side almost responded immediately, with Charlie Edwards hitting an audacious 30-yard volley that would have found the net had Wyant not back-peddled to tip over the bar in the nick of time.
At the other end, United had the chance to double their lead on the counter-attack after Antonio Mitri did well to keep the ball in play and advance into the box, but Iwediuno’s eventual effort was blocked.
United had an even better opportunity to establish a two-goal margin early in the second half. Joy played in Josh Sturniolo, but the winger could only fire over when through on goal. Almost immediately, Hoddesdon made the home side pay for the missed chance by levelling things up. Watson was found in the home box and made no mistake, poking the ball past Wyant to restore parity.
At that point, the outcome of the match looked in the balance but the turning point came on 64 minutes. Connell, already on a yellow card, went in late on Lee Bilcock and was given his marching orders by the referee.
It took just five minutes for United to make their numerical advantage count and they did so in spectacular fashion. After Iwediuno was fouled around 30 yards from goal, Gareth Hunt stepped up to curl a delightful free-kick over the wall and into the top corner of Smart’s net. From that moment on, the home side took control and added a third with just over 10 minutes remaining. Iwediuno battled hard to work his way into the area and his persistence paid off when a mix-up between Smart and his defence enabled the ball to break for Joy, who fired into an empty net.
Møller, who had come on as a substitute just before United retook the lead, was then rewarded for a lively cameo appearance up front with a goal of his own. Seconds after missing his kick at the crucial moment, the former Norweigan Tippeligaen forward got on the end of Charlie Black’s long ball forward to head beyond Smart late on.
There was still time for Hoddesdon to grab a late consolation from the penalty spot, Watson netting his second of the afternoon after being fouled in the box, but the game was well beyond the visitors by that point.