Bedford Town and Barton shared a 1-1 draw on Saturday in the local Christmas derby.
Bedford took the lead shortly after the interval, but Barton hit back to earn a point as both teams finished the game with 10 men.
Hard work has been the order of the day with Craig Adams, ever since he took charge of the Eagles back in March 2014.
The team has been evolving as the Bedford boss looks for a side that can challenge for promotion in the Evo-Stik Central Division, and it has certainly come a long way.
Although the Eagles’ league position is still a lowly one, the fans down at the Eyrie feel that the team is worth watching again, after last season’s relegation, and the slow start to this current campaign.
The latest game – and the last in 2014 – came at Sharpenhoe Road, against an in-form (six wins on the bounce before playing Bedford), and playoff chasing Barton Rovers, playing in front of their biggest crowd of the season.
The visiting fans saw the first appearance in a Bedford shirt of former Stoke City, Bristol Rovers, Darlington and AFC Telford goalkeeper Danzelle St Louis-Hamilton.
After the amount of rain the day before, this game was in serious doubt, but the pitch passed a morning inspection, and it was game on for Bedford’s second Bedfordshire derby in a week. Although there was plenty of football to be played, the heavy pitch made for a scrappy game.
Neither side could get a foothold on the game and scoring chances were rare.
St Louis-Hamilton smothered the ball early on, after Rhys Hoenes had shown too much of it to him as he raced into the area.
Callum Lewis fired in a low shot that gave Kyle Forster no problems in the Barton goal.
Rob Parker’s pass, midway through the half, gave Russell Bull a chance to home in on goal. With two defenders flanking him, Bull snatched his shot wide.
Tom Liversedge’s persistence nearly paid off, just after the half hour, as he was tackled in the area. Losing then winning the ball when on the ground, Bedford’s top scorer was forced into hitting his shot early, and Forster was able to save easily.
A few minutes before the break, Josh McGoldrick raced back to block Hoenes’ shot, after a cross into the Bedford area gave the striker a good opportunity.
The second half started with the same pattern as the first. Bull rounded left-back Jhai Dhillon, but from a tight angle, hit the side netting.
Ten minutes into the half Bedford made the breakthrough; briefly warming up the travelling supporters.
Parker, making a run out of his own half, and down the right, played a 1-2 with Bull.
Parker then took the ball to the right byline before crossing to the far post, and Liversedge was there to hit a first time shot that flew into the net, giving Bedford the lead, and bringing his tally to six in the last three games.
The lead lasted just eight minutes, however, as fom just outside the area, Kev Kilroy equalised for the home side with a perfectly executed free-kick that cleared the wall and left St Louis-Hamilton rooted to the spot.
Barton had the confidence, and looked for a second goal. Cards came out as the Bedford players were caught. Jeff Woodward, booked three minutes before the equaliser, was given a second yellow, and subsequently a red soon afterwards.
Bedford, down to ten men, had 24 minutes to survive the expected onslaught from Barton.
It never happened. After the sending off, Bull was the unfortunate victim in a tactical substitution as defender Paul Cooper came on to fill the void made by Woodward.
The Bedford defence was complete again and Barton couldn’t make the extra man work to their advantage.
Four minutes before the end, Barton were reduced to ten men when captain Paul Gatti received a second yellow card.
In stoppage time, a Barton corner came to nothing as St Louis-Hamilton entered a melee of players and came out the other side with the ball firmly in his grip.
Bedford start 2015 with a home game on New Years Day against St Ives Town. The game is a 3pm kick-off.
Eagles: Danzelle St Louis-Hamilton, Rob Parker (Josh Winters 75), Josh McGoldrick, Stuart Smeathers, Jeff Woodward, Ollie Wilkinson [c], Callum Lewis, Ross Oulton, Tom Liversedge, Russell Bull (Paul Cooper 68), Greg Ling.
Subs not used: Joe Hopewell, Joe Holmes, Garry Malone.
Barton: Kyle Forster, Bilal Hassan, Jhai Dhillon, Peter Gatti [c], Kev Kilroy, Joe Reynolds, Anthony Ottaway (Tayali Tuki 56), Louis Lee (Paul Andrews 32), Vincent Connor (Jevani Brown 82), Keshi Anderson, Rhys Hoenes.
Subs not used: Mahmut Caglar, Kerran Birch.