Saturday, 24 September 2011

Bedford Town 1 v Oxford City 2 - Evo-Stik Southern League - Premier Division

Welcome to the Eyrie, Meadow Lane, Bedford
Home of Bedford Town FC

As you enter the ground off Meadow Lane, there is a welcoming sign on either side of the driveway.
You could be forgiven for thinking Bedford Town FC have simply missed a word off of one of those signs ... but there are actually two grounds standing right next door to each other ... literally.
In fact, while the Bedford Town subs were warming up near the corner flag, they threw a ball back over the fence, that had appeared on the touchline from the neighbouring game.
Welcome to McMullen Park, Meadow Lane, Bedford
Home of Bedford FC
Bedford Town v Oxford City

It was a curious sight to see the players from both of this afternoon's games walking out for their respective games at the same time ... the elevated MacMullen Park dressing rooms overlook one end of the Eyrie.
For the record, Bedford lost their FA Vase tie against Basildon United 3-1, in front of 29 spectators.
McMullen Park has a decent sized main stand and looks to be worth a visit next time I'm in the area, which will probably be in the not too distant future.
Incidentally, Bedford FC ply their trade in the Molten Spartan South Midlands League Division 1.
But you probably already knew that ... smart arses!
Bedford v Basildon United ... and a couple of chaps who don't
look too happy about having their picture taken

Saturday 24th September 2011,
at The Eyrie, Meadow Lane, Bedford

Evo-Stik Southern League - Premier Division
Bedford Town (1) 1
Drew Roberts 37
Oxford City (1) 2
Wayne Blossom 14, Felipe Barcelos 75

Admission £9, Programme £2, Attendance 259
So today, I find myself in deepest Bedfordshire.
Possibly a bit off radar for me, though the boundaries of my regular stomping ground do tend to get a bit blurred at times.
Today's the day my son finally fuc ... err, left the nest ... and moved away to University.
His residence of choice for the next three years is Bedfordshire University's Luton campus.
I've put a lot on hold and sacrificed one or two lesser priority personal things along the way, to make sure he's had all the support and backing he needs, with a stable and undisrupted background at this pivotal time of his life, but he's my flesh and blood, I'm proud of him and that matters infinitely more to me than anything else ... or anyone else for that matter.
Go for it Sam!
I arrived in Luton early to avoid all the other parents, with their little darlings in tow and their cars full of boxes clogging up all the premium parking spaces, only to discover that every single person who would be arriving at the Lea Halls today, had exactly the same freakin' idea as me. D'oh!
But after three lengthy route marches, from the very far end of the second nearest car park to his new premises, AKA miles away, we finally finished unpacking at about ten past two ... and I said it was probably in everyone's best interests if I got out of the way for a few hours, while he found his feet, did all the meeting and greeting stuff and his mum went off into town to buy all those last minute essentials he'd forgotten to bring.
Hmm ... where on earth could I possibly go, to kill some time this afternoon?
Yeah, of course I'd already checked out all the fixture lists as soon as he got his moving in date and I knew exactly where Meadow Lane, just off the Bedford bypass road is.
And I already know which clubs are playing at home within a 30 mile radius of Luton when I take Sam's young niece down to visit him in the near future too.
There is a large sized social club at the Eyrie, but I'd still got a lot of driving ahead of me, so a beer was out of the question. Unfortunately.
There was an interesting array of club memorabilia to peruse in the club, but even I, the most unselfconscious man in the history of the world, was very aware of a large number of people staring at me while I was taking few pictures ... who is this strange outsider with the camera?
That said, the majority of people at the Eyrie were very welcoming and friendly.
During all the excitement and rushing about I had forgotten to eat anything today, which is seriously out of character for me, so I went off in search of food, figuring a bog standard burger or pie would have to do.
So I was delighted with the range of food Bedford Town's tea hut had on offer.
Anyone who's ever known the sheer 'pleasure you can't measure', of visiting the Women's Institute stalls in Retford's Butter-market on a Saturday morning, would approve of the Supporters Club run facility here.
Hmm, a buttered fruit scone, a slab of bread and button pudding and a mug of industrial strength coffee for a total outlay of just £1.50, leads me to believe that I can already call off all bets for who's going to win the66pow food outlet of the season award.
The variety was endless ... and all home baked quality stuff too.
Max Wall? Unconfirmed sighting.

On the bench today for Bedford Town was former Mansfield Town (plus loads of other clubs) left back Nicky Platnauer ... he wasn't playing of course, he's a bit too old for that these days, but he's back at the Eagles for a second stint as their assistant manager.
I once saw Nicky play for and against Mansfield Town in the same game. It was a friendly at Kettering Town and he played 45 minutes for each team, I never asked why at the time.
And I was too busy munching on my culinary delights, to find out when our paths crossed today too.
I did wonder if Oxford City had a famous former left back on their bench too. But on closer inspection, it was a Stuart Pearce, as opposed to the Stuart Pearce.
Oxford City's pre match warm up

Oxford kicked off and pretty soon they were showing why they are currently second in the table.
Declan Benjamin fired narrowly wide and Jack Ashton shot over the crossbar in the first five minutes.
It looked as if the home side were going to be up against it today and their plight wasn't helped when their captain Gavin Hoyle earned himself a straight red card on twelve minutes, for a stamp cum foul from behind on Steve Basham.
I've seen worse tackles than that punished with a yellow card and a severe talking to. But, strictly speaking, in applying the letter of the law, the referee Mr J Steel, had no option but to send Hoyle off.
Colin Hoyle (4) walks from the pitch while
Oxford prepare to take a quick free kick

Hoyle wouldn't have even had the bath taps on before the visitors were ahead.
With the defence still reorganising, a quickly taken free quick into the Bedford area was fired home by the Oxford captain Wayne Blossom.
As captain's examples to their team mates go, it was a stark contrast.
"The referee's ruined as a spectacle now, he might as well give them the game, he's effectively killed it now" ranted an angry Bedford fan stood nearby.
Hmm, I pondered ... is the ref supposed to let fouls go unpunished?
Is it the ref or Gavin Hoyle's fault that the game is no longer eleven aside and goalless?
On the whole I don't think the referee had a very good game, but he can't ignore a player deliberately raising his stoods when fouling an opponent from behind.
Drew Roberts (10) on the wing

But the Bedford team didn't think the game was effectively dead, not at all ... and in Drew Roberts, their prolific goalscorer, it looked as if they had a player who was willing to do the work of two men anyway.
Oxford were not pushing their advantage (not yet) and the Eagles were clawing (or should that be taloning?) their way back into the game.
Jason Mooney in the visitors goal, though not exactly being called upon to throw up some kind of rearguard action, was having to concentrate on the job in hand, as a succession of free kicks and half chances pinged around the box in front of him.

How not to take a free kick ...
shot on location at Bedford Town FC
Aim ...

On 36 minutes, the Eagles might have had a penalty when James Clarke hacked down the last man, Gareth Price, as he outpaced him on his way into the visitors box.
Strictly speaking once again, applying the letter of the law, that could have been a red card too, but Clarke escaped with a yellow and a free kick was awarded, outside the box.
Far be it from me to suggest the actual contact was made inside the 18 yard box ... it made for an interesting photo opportunity though.
Within a minute of the unsuccessful penalty appeal, Bedford were level ... when Drew Roberts took matters into his own hands and fired past Mooney from just inside the box ... justice over the 50/50 'incident' had been done.
And all of Bedford's hard work and running to overcome the handicap of only having ten men hadn't been in vain.
But, ultimately, the extra effort was to be their undoing. because they were visibly knackered after the break.
Oxford's numerical advantage finally told in the second half and there were a few all hands to the pumps situations for the Eagles as they battled to keep the score level, particularly when Felipe Barcelos attacked them from the left flank.
The Brazilian, Barcelos, recently had trials at Premier League Fulham and he's obviously got what it takes to cut it at a higher level than the Southern League. But for the time being, Oxford City have his guile, speed and cunning at their disposal.
The Eagles defence keep a close watch on Felipe Barcelos

It was inevitable that a breakthrough would come for City eventually and when it did it was no surprise that Barcelos was the man to get the goal that proved to be the winner.
After being man marked every time he got the ball, by a defence who were well aware of the threat he possesses, the Oxford substitute suddenly popped up in a yard of space on the left hand side of the penalty area ... he took aim and smacked an unstoppable shot past Ian Brown.
Bedford's resolve and resistance had finally been breached, but it had taken a moment of magic from a top class player to do it.
Filipe Barcelos, Oxford City's Brazilian wonder, scores
... and then smiles for the camera

But Bedford dug in once more and despite a couple of half chances for Oxford to finish them off, they steadfastly refused to let the floodgates open.
In fact, a counter attack almost saw James Faulkner equalise right at the death ... and Jermaine Ivy had looked like a real handful when he came on as a late substitute for the home side.
But it wasn't to be and in the end, the 11 men beat the team who had battled on with 10 men for 78 minutes.
Back to Luton I went, to say my goodbyes for the time being to our young 'un and top up his spends until the useless feckers who deal with his student finances get their fingers out.
All of the other parents had gone home now, except for the loving mum I had to drag back to the car by her ankles, kicking and screaming, it's like this ... "If you want a lift back to your own house in Retford, because you can't stay here, I'm going now and I need you to pay half towards the diesel costs"
He's a big lad now, finding his own way in the world, it's his time ... you've had yours, you old has been ;-P
Sam's where he is now because of the awesome job you've done as his mother, keeping him on the straight and narrow while I vanished off on tours with bands, to foreign lands in pursuit of football and all the other gallivanting that comes with the territory of being a Retford lad ... I'm very proud of both of you tonight :-)
Twenty two quid should cover your share of the fuel btw.
Next stop ... North Wales on Tuesday night, for Wrexham v Mansfield Town.
And then I've got two games lined up for Wednesday ... this party never stops!