Staffordshire 4 Bedfordshire 5
Bedfordshire traveled to Stafford for their first ever meeting with their county side in the second round of the ESFA National Cup. The game started brightly with the home side taking the advantage in the 4th minute when a close range header from Callum Niven found the back of the net.
Beds rallied strongly with narrow misses from close range in the 6th and 7th minute proving they had the penetration to create chances. Cian Halpin pulled the scores level with a well taken goal in the 10th minute but the joy was short lived as Joe Baxter made the visitors pay for their inattention when he increased Staffs lead in the 11th minute following a weak defensive clearance. A deflected header from Staffs diminutive Charlie Finney increased their lead in the 22nd minute as Beds saw another chance go wide of the Staffs post a minute later. The omens were not looking good!
Staffs came out of the blocks strongly at the start of the second half and saw three quick efforts hit the upright and then two off the bar. Beds Chairman, Tudor Lewis, was in predictive mood as he said, “That’s a game changer”. The next four minutes certainly were. Adam Wedd sent a great ball across the box from the left flank and found Harvey Williams at the far post to tuck it home, 3-2. One minute later Cian Halpin found himself set free from a great midfield pass and he fired home the equaliser, 3-3. It became worse for Staffs two minutes later when Brooklyn Ilunga put Beds into the lead for the first time with a well struck shot wide of the shell shocked Staffs ‘keeper, 3-4. It must have been some incredible half time talk from manager, Luke Hyde.
Staffs rallied and fought back well but the resurgent Beds defenders kept them at bay and restricted them to just the one more shot which came of the bar! Xander Day was marshaling the Beds defence well and the forays into the Staffs half posed numerous threats.
There was a ray of hope for the home side when Callum Niven helped himself to a second goal in the 53rd minute, the home fans were getting excited, the visitors edgy. The deciding hammer blow came with seven minutes to go when the speedy Joshua Allen was put through down the left wing. Cutting inside then taking the ball to the left of the ‘keeper he shot home confidently to restore Beds lead.
The final minutes were full of action with chances for both teams. The final whistle was greeted with relief by the visiting supporters who were very proud of the efforts of their sons. Former World Cup Final official, Mark Warren, who was running one line, gave praise which the boys can be proud off, “Great performance and you deserved to win that”.
Well done to the U14's and good luck in the next round!