Dubious refereeing decision costs Athletic victory

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Bedford Athetic suffered a narrow 24-23 defeat to Sandbah in National League Three Midlands on Saturday after a controversial refereeing decision at the death.

Leading 23-21, the referee played advantage from a penalty just over the halfway line when Sandbach broke and play was snuffed out just short of the home line.

The official deemed insuficient advantage had accrued, to then award the visitors a penalty on on the 22, 15 yards ahead of where any offence might have been committed, as Ben Elliott converted the easy opportunity to steal victory.

Defeat was harsh on Ath, who fell behind early on, to Elliott’s penalty, with Jack Leech going over and Elliott’s boot making it 10-0.

Bedford responded well, as Josh Cassell was rewarded for some good breaks with a try in the corner, while David Simpson made space for Charlie Darlow to dot down too, his 50th try for the 1st XV, making it 10-10.

Robbie Povey slotted a penalty over just before half time to put the hosts into a 13-10 lead.

The second period f began in positive fashion with Athagain finding space down the left wing for replacement prop Tony Moliterno to give the scoring pass to Cassell for a try that Povey converted, putting his side 20-10 in front just three minutes in.

However, Ath too often were caught playing from deep and failing to secure territorial gains, handing the initiative to a Sandbach side who narrowed the gap on 51 minutes when Elliott Morris went over.

Elliott then kicked further penalties for the on 57 and 67 minutes which gave Sandbach a narrow 21-20 lead.

Simpson was unlucky to be pulled back for a debatable forward pass which would have led to a try but the home side retook the lead on 75 minutes with a Povey penalty.

However, Ath then conceded penalty in the fateful final minute, as Sandbach came out on top.

A losing bonus point was much less than Bedford Athletic might have hoped for and they will have to show resilience this week when they travel to leaders Sheffield.