Athletic battle back bravely to stay in the cup

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Bedford Athletic advanced in a tough away tie in the East Midlands Cup quarter-finals with a 21-12 win at Wellingborough.

In a rare experience for the side, the match was played under floodlights on a Friday night and they showed calm and composure to reverse a half-time deficit to emerge as winners at the end.

The away side struck first with Steven Smith collecting his own chip ahead to cross for the first try on 16 minutes. Fly-half Jack Cook added the conversion but Wellingborough responded with a long period of pressure.

Eventually Tom Checkley crossed for a try on 28 minutes, and Wellingborough were in the lead when Ryan Mackie scored in the 34th minute and his conversion gave the hosts a 12-7 half-time lead.

There was some shuffling of the team at half-time and Bedford Athletic came out with a renewed determination at the start of the second period.

Ben Middleton dominated matters up front and, with the experience of Steven Smith guiding them in the backs, they started to exert serious pressure on the Wellingborough line.

The score eventually came in the 58th minute as Stephen Woodhead crossed for his 50th try for the club and Smith’s conversion restored a two-point lead.

It was still a close game and Wellingborough did have a long distance penalty chance to win the match which dropped short.

The game was not sealed until the closing moments when full-back Charlie Darlow crossed for the try, again converted by Smith, to give Athletic a more comfortable margin of victory.

The draw has not been kind to the club this year as the semi-final will also be an away tie with a Bedfordshire derby at Luton the reward; the match due to be played early in 2016.

Athletic return to league action on Saturday when they host Matlock in Midlands One East as they look to build on a start that has delivered six wins from seven matches and sees the side currently in third place in the league table.