Evo-Stik Southern League, Premier Division: Bedford Town 1 Chippenham Town 1
Steve Kinniburgh’s injury-time strike rescued a point for Bedford Town as they drew 1-1 with lowly Chippenham Town on a frustrating afternoon at the Eyrie on Saturday, writes Roger Worsley.
Boss Nick Platnauer kept the same line-up that beat Stourbridge the week before for the encounter against a Chippenham side yet to win in the league in 2013.
But the Eagles chief must have despaired at the loss of concentration that allowed Scott Lye to square the ball inside the area for the unmarked Dean Griffiths to sweep home from 12 yards for the visitors after just one and a half minutes.
The visitors frustrated Bedford in a scrappy encounter and it wasn’t until the last five minutes of the half there was any more real action.
Griffiths released Alan Griffin just inside the area, but his first-time shot had the sting taken out of it by the advancing Ian Brown and Ollie Wilkinson was able to clear.
Bedford’s only real chance of the half came with a minute left when Kinniburgh’s free-kick was cleared out to Callum Lewis and his vicious 25-yarder flew narrowly past the post.
Town looked for the initiative in the second half but came up against a frenzied defence.
A Jamie Grimes shot-on-the-turn following a free-kick flew over the bar on the hour, and with 20 minutes to play Kinniburgh fired a 20-yard free-kick over the bar.
Five minutes later and Bedford were unlucky not to equalise when Josh Beech stabbed the ball goalwards from point-blank range, but Ben John threw himself in the way to deny Eagles an equaliser.
A minute later a swift Bluebirds counter-attack saw substitute Tom Knighton cross for Griffiths, but Brown denied him from five yards with no defender in sight.
Having been booked for arguing with the referee on nine minutes, Chippenham’s Adie Harris was dismissed with seven minutes to go when he was shown a second yellow card for bringing down Beech.
With the game entering stoppage time John denied Beech, before the Bedford man was hauled down in the penalty area by Jim Rollo in the third minute of stoppage time.
John then saved Eugene Libertucci’s spot-kick only for Kinniburgh to react first and stroke the rebound home to salvage a point.
On Tuesday Bedford go to leaders Leamington and on Saturday head to Bashley as they face four of the top five sides between now and March 2.
Eagles: Ian Brown (C), Ollie Wilkinson, Steve Kinniburgh, Josh Beech, Josh Green, Jamie Grimes, Michael Built (Paul Cooper 78), Callum Lewis, Nick Beasant, Will Green (Nat Peacock 75), Seb Simpson (Eugene Libertucci 66). Substitutes not used: Jamaine Ivy, Tom Guiney.
Bluebirds: Ben John, Jim Rollo, Greg Tindle, Ashley Williams, Steve Casey (C), Nathan Rudge, Adie Harris, Scott Lye, Alan Griffin, James Guthrie (Tom Knighton 64), Dean Griffiths. Substitutes not used: Alex Kite, Lee Phillips, Iain Harvey, Toby Osman.
Star Eagle: Steve Kinniburgh.