Bedford progressed to the next round of the FA Trophy on Saturday afternoon, Beating Ryman Division One South outfit Chipstead 4-3 in a compelling match that kept all who watched riveted until the final whistle.
It wasn’t a see-saw game, though, as the Eagles were coasting along at 4-0, with just 20 minutes to play.
Suddenly an opportunistic goal gave the visitors a spur, and Bedford were back-pedalling. Two further goals brought Chipstead close-at-hand, but the Eagles had done enough to claim the victory.
Craig Adams had kept the same side from the previous week’s victory against Aylesbury, and from the start Bedford took the game to their Surrey opponents.
Early corners were won, with no end reward. In the 18th minute, though, a breakthrough was made. Rob Parker’s shot was blocked by a wall of Chipstead defenders after Milan Stojsavljevic had half cleared a corner.
Bedford kept up the pressure on a stretched defence. Tom Winters was given the ball, on the right, and his cross into the danger area was enough for Joe Hopewell to smash home his first goal of the season after Stojsavljevic had performed heroics to try and keep the ball out.
The score moved to 2-0 on 25 minutes, as Dan Burke’s work down the left produced results. He lofted the ball over to the far post for Tom Liversedge to head past Stojsavljevic.
Claims of offside were waved away by the referee. Feeling aggrieved, Dan Buckle kept up his argument with Mr Hanna, especially after Burke was given a yellow for a mis-timed tackle.
His vocal perseverance secured a booking on 30 minutes, before he was substituted 60 seconds later. Mr Hanna did nothing to endear himself to either side as he doled out at least 11 bookings during the match.
Back to the football, and Parker fired just wide of the left hand post. Bedford were firing on all cylinders, looking likely to score on every attack.
The third goal came with four minutes of the half remaining. Paul Cooper and Tommy Glasscoe combined on the right, with the former executing a perfect diagonal pass round the defence, to an unmarked Liversedge. All the striker had to do was control and slot past Stojsavljevic, and this was done ‘calm as you like.
Chipstead’s best chance of the half came late on when Dan Moody directed a free-kick, on the edge of the D, too high.
Bedford should have entered the break with a four-goal lead. Tom Winters fell in a crowded area and Mr Hanna pointed to the spot. No one was carded for the incident, although Stojsavljevic earned his name in the book for remonstrating with the referee.
Parker took the spot kick, low to the right, but the Chipstead keeper athletically dived to save.
The lead was increased five minutes into the second half. With Bedford on the attack, Cooper and Parker couldn’t find an opportunity to shoot, but Cooper spotted Liversedge on the other side of the box. O
ne quick pass later and Liversedge had curled the ball round Stojsavljevic for his hat-trick.
It was a dream score that nearly turned into a nightmare.
With 18 minutes to go, with nowhere to go and the defence round him, Kofi Quartey, on the right byline and his back to goal, hooked the ball over his right shoulder, and over a surprised Lee Crockett to pull a goal back for the visitors.
Seven minutes on, a set piece outside the area helped Chipstead score a second goal, as Jack Buckle pushed a free-kick to Moody, who in turn gave it back to Buckle, now behind the Bedford wall.
Buckle crossed deeper into the area and Mark McLeod rose high to head the ball into the net.
On the back foot, Bedford dug deep, but not deep enough, as with four minutes of the normal 90 remaining Jack Buckle fired in from 15 yards to make it 4-3.
Two minutes into stoppage time, Crockett was penalised for allegedly picking up a back pass, and Chipstead had an indirect free-kick inside the area. With every man back, the 10-man Bedford wall held firm to deny Chipstead’s last chance of securing an astonishing comeback by blocking McLeod’s shot.
The Eagles progress to the first qualifying round and another home tie, hosting Ryman Division One North side Brightlingsea Regent, on Saturday November 1.
Marlow visit the Eyrie on Saturday as Bedford get back to league action.
Eagles: Lee Crockett, Paul Cooper, Joe Hopewell, Josh McGoldrick, Jeff Woodward, Stuart Smeathers, Tommy Glasscoe (Nick Whittam 87), Dan Burke [c](Sam Macrae 69), Tom Liversedge (Scott Cross 65), Josh Winters, Rob Parker.
Sub not used: Todd Sawko.
Chips: Milan Stojsavljevic, Devon Williams, Tashan Jordan, Ben Dyett, Shaun Preddie, Jack Buckle, Josh Gallagher (Adam Willis 69), Mark McLeod, Dan Buckle (Will Turl 31), Derek Tieku (Kofi Quartey 52), Dan Moody [c].
Subs not used: Robert Webbe, Dan Llacer.
Referee: Mr D Hanna.
Assistants: Mr B O’Sullivan & Mr G Younger.