Biggleswade United started the year with ended with another impressive win, 1-0 against second in the table AFC Dunstable,at a rain swept Second Meadow on Saturday.
Over 300 spectators - the SSML Premier’s highest attendance of the season – braved the abysmal conditions and were treated to an entertaining match that was short on goals but full of controversy, feisty tackling and a finale that had everyone talking.
Emotions were high before the game. United’s new found son, AJ Ajeakwa, was making his final appearance for Cristian Colas’ team with his visa restrictions requiring him to exit the UK. And the United supporters turned out in their numbers to bid him a fond farewell as he makes his way to Spain to trial for Spanish League side CE Sabadell FC.
United also welcomed their Under 9s team as mascots for the day and the youngsters did the club proud in cheering on the team from the first whistle.
With such a highly charged atmosphere it came as no surprise that the game was played with equal intensity. The ODs are having a great season. They are still in with a shout of a Wembley visit following their continued involvement in this year’s FA Vase competition and are odds on favourites for the Premier Division title. However, a minor setback last week at Bedford saw them still hurting from dropping two valuable points and manager Steve Heath would have been looking to his team to get themselves back to winning form.
The game got off to a cracking start with strikers from both sides taking full advantage of a slippery surface. Tom Cookman was sent on his way by a superb through ball from youngster Tom Bryant but the OD’s experienced ‘keeper, Ricky Perks, was alert to the danger and cleared before Cookman could get a strike on goal.
His opposite number, Joachin Martos, needed to be equally astute with the league’s leading goalscorer, BJ Christie, always a possible threat in the box. However, United’s Nyasha Sagwete marshalled Christie superbly throughout the first half, restricting the OD’s striker to just two chances that were easily dealt with by Martos.
With defences from both sides in commanding form, strikes on goal in the first 45 minutes were limited but much of the excitement came from the two sides’ wing men with United’s Ajeakwa and Lucas Joyce and OD’s Jermaine Hall keeping the crowd entertained in the rain.
The second half saw much of the same. Joyce was in his element on the greasy surface and had three excellent runs down the left flank blocked by last ditch tackles from OD’s Courtney Massey. United’s Kane Farrell was also a continuous threat with runs from deep that had the OD’s midfield back peddling to prevent the wing back getting a strike on goal.
Christie went close to giving the visitor’s the lead on the hour mark but a superb one handed save from Martos kept United in the game and two minute’s later the Valencian youngster parried a long range strike from Moses Olalye later as the OD’s stepped up the pace.
But as the game moved in to the final 15 minutes it was United’s style of play that edged proceedings. United’s back line were now looking comfortable with the long ball style from the OD’s as the danger from their front pair waned and the visitor’s midfield men were looking equally jaded as United continued to play the ball around the park with playmakers, Matt Cooper and Stuart Richardson finding more time and space in the middle area as the game went on.
With six minutes remaining United were in the ascendancy and making all the running. Joyce flashed a cross in to the six yard area after selling his marker a dummy that will possibly go viral on You Tube but James Cooper’s final strike was blocked by Perks.
Matt Cooper had the chance to cap a man of the match performance when set up by Joyce but the he sent his effort wide.
Adam Drakulic replaced Ajeakwa, who received rapturous applause as he left the field, and within a minute Drakulic fizzed down the left and sent a strike just over to Cookman but Perks managed to outjump the United striker. Farrell went close with two minutes remaining but the ball dipped the wrong side of the OD post.
But the final minute provided the game’s talking point. Joyce laid the ball back to Cookman and as he turned to strike he was tripped by an OD defender with the referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Despite the efforts of the OD keeper to furrow out the penalty spot Joyce managed to replace the sod and plant the ball past Perks to give United a memorable victory and three points that moves them up to 11th in the table.
This Saturday United travel to Welwyn Garden City where they will be looking to avenge their heaviest League defeat of the season when the Citizens inflicted a 5-1 defeat upon the Second Meadow side.
United’s Under 23 side entertain Northwood on Saturday. Kick Off 3pm.