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Bedford Town 5-2 Kingstonian

For eighty minutes of this match at The Eyrie, those in red and white hoops had almost total control over the Bedford Eagles. Indeed, had it not been for the crazy six minute period in the first-half where the hosts scored four (yes, four), the visitors would have been most perturbed to have only won two-one. As it turned out, the final score-line of five-two told very little of the day's story.

With two players sitting out with 'flu - Bashiru Alimi and Scott Steele - and two others - Mark Jones and Max Hustwick - travelling but not taking part, the sixteen sent out by Kim Harris wasn't quite his first choice. Still, with the exception of Liam Garman who took the number three shirt and substitute Chris Nurse, the rest were nothing but first-teamers, looking to earn the three points needed to leapfrog Bedford in the table.

The Eyrie

Things started off a little shakily for the boys in tenth with an early goal for the Eagles. The ball was played up to Daniel French on the left of the area, and his right-footed shot curled into the top corner for the opening goal in just the ninth minute.

Still, no matter. Less than sixty seconds later, K's were level. Dave Clarke sent in a long throw from the right, Tim Sills flicked on at the near post and strike-partner Grant Payne swivelled and sent a right-footed volley into the corner of the net to make it one-one. There was the merest hint of a deflection, but the goal is definitely Payne's.

After restoring parity, K's looked like they would continue to dominate. Just a minute after Payne's goal, Clarke was played in by Sills for a run at goalkeeper Ian Brown. The midfielder delayed his shot very slightly, and Brown was able to save low to his right. Chris Whelan shot over following a good dummy and cross from Liam Collins on the right as K's continued to threaten, but then it began.

Twenty-five minutes were on the clock when Steve Jackman played in an innocuous looking cross from the Bedford right, Key called for the ball, got nowhere near it, it struck Collins on the head and neatly bisected the uprights to hand the hosts the lead.

K's not conceding a goal

Sixty seconds later the lead was two. Carl Williams played a neat one-two with Rob Miller, and as the ball was played back into the K's box, Williams swept home under surprisingly little pressure.

Worse was to follow when, with twenty-eight minutes on the clock, ex-K Graeme Tomlinson played a ball through for French to run onto. Captain Peter Barnsby was tracking back, but could only stop the striker by grabbing his shoulders with both hands and hauling him to the ground. A penalty was awarded, and Barnsby was quite rightly shown the red card for the second match in succession. His season over, there must also be some doubt as to his future as first choice centre-back.

After some brief treatment for French, play continued with Darren Lynch scoring from the spot, beating Key to his left. He repeated the feat just two minutes later when a slightly more dubious penalty was awarded by the linesman. After the game the referee said that it was given for handball, whilst the linesman insisted it was for a tug on an opponent's shirt by Liam Garman. Whatever the offence, it was deemed to be inside the area, so Lynch had the chance to beat Key from the spot once more. He did so, and all of a sudden, after being level at one-one on 25 minutes, Bedford had a five-one lead on 31.

By now both shocked and awed, the K's players did manage a swift response. James Pinnock played in a corner from the left and Tim Sills headed in at the far post. A defender did attempt to clear the ball off the line, but succeeded only in smashing the ball into the roof of the net. And so five-two on 32 minutes.

Peter Barnsby not playing rugby

With half-time came a semblance of normality - or at least no more goals. As the players and officials trooped off for the break, some cat-calls were aimed at those in black, but their performance - or lack of - really had no impact on the individual mistakes which were Kingstonian's undoing.

With the game completely effectively over, the second half was really all about pride. Three goals and one man down, K's performed admirably. Although the score remained unchanged, that really wasn't for the want of trying. There were countless chances for the front men, very few for Bedford, and at the final whistle it was impossible to say that the winners had been three goals better than K's.

Tim Sills headed an early Garman corner just over, but it was partner Grant Payne who missed the best chances. Sills and Collins combined to send him clear on 51 minutes, but Brown stood up well and turned the ball away with his foot. His next chance came via Key's kick clear and defender Jackman's flick on. Payne raced to collect the ball just outside the area but sent his left-footed volley inches wide.

A superb move on 63 minutes provided the clear winner of save (and photo) of the day. Dave Clarke - back to his barn-storming best - cut a swathe through the Eagles' midfield and played in Collins on the right. His cross was met at the far post by Payne, whose header was spectacularly kept out by Brown (below).

...the look of Payne on his face...

James Pinnock went close on a couple of occasions as time moved on, and Sills headed over from another Collins cross, but having not managed to convert one of their early chances there was no way back.

Bedford did manage a shot in the second half - a speculative Jackman effort from twenty-five yards that was smartly saved by Key - but in truth that was the only moment of second-half concern for K's. It can of course be argued that, being three goals up there was no need for the home side to over-exert themselves at the start of a busy few days.

And so the match ended at five-two. Following the defeat, manager Kim Harris was upset by the performance of skipper Barnsby, but delighted in the way that his charges responded in the second half. And if it hadn't been for that crazy first-half spell when everything Bedford touched (and even sometimes things that they didn't touch) turned to goals, the second-half might well have seen K's leave the Eagles on the wrong side of a hammering.

Sat 19th Apr 2003
The Eyrie
Isthmian League Premier
Bedford Town5
Payne, Sills
1Lance Key
2Liam Collins15
3Liam Garman14
4Scott Smith
5Peter BarnsbySent Off
6Matt Flitter
7James PinnockCautioned
8Dave Clarke
9Tim Sills
10Grant Payne
11Chris Whelan
12Craig Lewington
13Adrian Jones
14Chris Nurse3
15Scott Edgar2
16Phil Wingfield
Match Report By
Gary Ekins