Bedford Town were knocked out of the Red Insure Cup on Monday night as a stoppage time goal earned a 3-2 win for hosts Hitchin Town.
It was the Eagles who took the lead in the sixth minute, when Dylan Gittens headed home from close range after a corner totally bamboozled the Hitchin defence.
A couple of minutes later, Jonny McNamara powered into the Eagles’ area, only to fire his shot over the bar.
Bedford were looking dangerous in attack, and Stefan Powell tricked his way into the area and shot low. Hitchin keeper Michael Johnson dived low to save, but parried the ball into the path of Javia Roberts, whose effort from five yards out was also kept out by Johnson.
However, it was Hitchin who struck next as they equalised on 23 minutes, when McNamara fell under the challenge from Kyle Lincoln in the Bedford area. Lewis Rolfe stepped up and dispatched the resulting penalty to level the match.
A minute later, Hitchin nearly took the lead when Brett Donnelly’s lob over Zaki Oualah came off the post before it was cleared.
But it was Bedford who regained the lead with five minutes of the half to go as Powell’s corner found Lincoln who hit the ball first time into the back of the net.
With an hour gone, and for the second time during the game, Hitchin equalised. Bedford had been under some pressure in the minutes preceding the goal, and a shot from Lucas Kirkpatrick that looked to be going wide rebounded off Donnelly and past Oualah to hit the back of the net.
Bedford came back with a reply, and nearly took the lead a minute later when Osborne was denied by the post.
As the game entered stoppage time, and the prospect of penalties looked likely, Hitchin scored the winner from a disputed free-kick.
Alasan Ann went down on the edge of the area from a challenge and the same player got up, and proceeded to place the ball through the wall and to the left of Oualah.
The Eagles make a quick return to Northwood on Saturday. Just two weeks from their previous visit to Chestnut Avenue, Bedford start their FA Trophy campaign - the game kicks off at 3pm.
Eagles: Zaki Oualah, Ricky Case (Tremayne Charles 76), Kyle Lincoln, James Peters (c), Dan Crowie (Christian Lester 63), Jordan Cleghorn (Marcus Campbell 79), Javia Roberts, Stefan Powell, Josh Bamford, Jamie Osborne, Dylan Gittens.
Subs not used: Nat Lewars, Tyler Reading.
Hitchin: Michael Johnson, Lewis Rolfe (Callum Donnelly ht), David Corran, Will Wright, Ben Walster, Stuart Pearson, Jonny McNamara (Liam Brooks ht), Sam Barker, Brett Donnelly (Alasan Ann 77), Jack Boyd, Lucas Kirkpatrick.
Subs not used: Charlie Horlock, Josh Bickerstaff.