Bedford Hammer Hertfords Promotion Hopes
By Elliot Barling
Hertford sink to their worst defeat in 5 years against Bedford 2s
With the weekend orignally planned to be hockey free Hertford were forced to make several changes given the absence of first team regulars. Simon Halfacre stepped down after suffering an achilles injury with Scott Apps, Sam Timms, Jamie O'Sullivan & Taylor Weeks all unavailable the changes were felt through the team. Ian Pledger was selected in goal having got back into the swing of things with the 2s the previous week with Oliver de Roeck also joining him as part of the defence package from the Mens 2s. Ben Tootell also joined the back line along with Mike Branford for his 5th appearance of the season. Adrian Fileczki cam back into midfield with youngsters Luke Rawlinson & Ewen Macpherson joining the front line for their 4th and 3rd appearances respectively.
The game kicked off in what felt like a summers afternoon with the heat causing the pitch to be sticky and bouncy, initially causing both teams to struggle with their first touch. Both teams eased into the game and had a fairly even split of the posession in the opening exchanges but Bedford looked the more clynical in the final third of the pitch. The breakthrough came for the home team when Ian Dunnett had, in the eyes of the umpire, deliberately body checked the Bedford left winger resulting in a green card and a Bedford short corner. With Ian Dunnett in the sinbin and Elliot Barling on the bench Hertford had to pull together a rather different back four to defend the short corner. The ball was slung out quickly and with a strong low flick to the right post it was diverted in by the on running Bedford player high into the net. Hertford tried to settle their nerves and survived only a little longer before Bedford once again punished them. A short corner awared for a foot in the D was dragflicked into the goal with Ian Pledger, blinded by the lowering sun only able to palm it up into his own net.
The closing first half began to look more promising with Hertford having their chances including a strike from Darren Norman which whistled past the post as will as a flashing ball across the D which nobody was able to get onto the end of. It was however Hertford who scored next, a poor ball out of defence was seized on by Ewen Macpherson who drove at the final defender before squaring it onto the P spot for Luke Rawlinson to score with a first time sweep. Unfortunately for Hertford, the goal caused them to take their foot off of the gas and ended up conceding a third in the final moments of the first half when the Bedford midfielder was able to find himself at the top of the D to smash home to end the half 3-1 in the hosts favour.
The second half began with Bedford firmly in the driving seat and it wasn't long before they got their 4th. A brilliant piece of skill by the left winger beat several desfender down to the base line and slotted into the goal from a tight angle. Hertford knew they had to push on if they were to now get anything from the game but with Bedfords skill and pace they were undone again when the defence dropped too far off and with nobody going to the man with the ball he was able to run to the top of the D and strike the ball home through Ian Pledgers right shoulder. Bedfords 6th was a result of a penaly stroke awarded after the Bedford forward dribbled into the D and found himself which just Pledger to beat before Rollins made a last ditch tackle and took the man out, the resulting stroke was slotted away to make it 6-1. The 7th and final goal of the game came from the second phase of a short corner after the initial phase was scrambled clear but only as far as the man at the top of the D who struck it near post with Pledger unsighted.
This was Hertfords worst defeat since they were last in this division in 2014 and now leaves them outside the promotion spots with East London moving above them on goal difference with their win over Blueharts. Hertford will be looking for a much better performance as they host Felixstowe on Saturday where they will be hoping to hit a similar scoreline having beaten them 10-2 in the first half of the season.