EGHAM TOWN 1 BEDFORD TOWN 4
By Tempest Ward
Please note that this report contains no mention of wheels coming off!
EVO-STIK SOUTHERN ONE CENTRAL TUESDAY 15 MARCH 2016
EGHAM TOWN 1 (0)
Aaron Morgan (90 + 1)
BEDFORD TOWN 4 (3)
Dominic Morgan-Griffiths (23), Ben Farrell 2 (45 + 1, 45 +3), Leroy Griffith (70)
On a night when Egham Town needed only a point to climb back to the summit of the Evo-Stik Southern One Central division they imploded against the kind of hard working, determined side they have seen off so many times this season. Put bluntly, this showing was dreadful, falling way short of the standard they are going to need to have a successful conclusion to the campaign.
It started reasonably well, Egham pushing the Eagles back and having their first chance on ten minutes when Aaron Morgan, on loan from East Thurrock United, fired wide off Wes Daly’s free kick. Bedford’s defence lived a charmed life as skewed clearances and bad defending created some half chances for the home side but the ball never quite fell Egham’s way. Bajram Pashaj had right back Devante Stanley in his pocket but saw too little of the ball to work his magic and on the other wing Brendan Matthew tried in vain to emulate the wing play of the influential Chris Henry, who will be back for the trip on Tuesday to Fleet Town. Bedford had managed little at the other end until the 21st minute when a scramble in the home area was cleared by keeper Jamie Norris. Then half way through the first half the sky fell in. A long hoof upfield caught the usually reliable Norris on the edge of his box with red shirted defenders all left wondering who was in charge and Dominic Morgan-Griffiths could not believe his luck when gifted an open goal. That defensive dithering seemed to affect the whole team. The next to show uncertainty was Morgan, trapping Norris’ drop kick expertly but without any kind of clear idea of what to do next. He who hesitates gets tackled. Five minutes from the break Egham looked like getting back to parity with some decent attacking play led by Pashaj, whose cross beat Matthew but flicked off a defender. Pashaj took the corner but although skipper Luke Neville got his head to the ball there was not enough power to trouble keeper Ashley Harris. A minute into injury time, a goal down, perhaps some determination to get back to the changing room with something to fight for would be handy, but a corner was not cleared and Ben Farrell was left free to hammer an angled shot past Norris for a two goal lead. That soon became three. Egham were attacking, Matthew’s pass to Morgan lacked conviction, the ball was too rapidly in the home area and with the defence seemingly wondering if being all at sea was preferable to being at sixes and sevens or just all over the place, Farrell was given room and time to make the half time score read Egham Town 0 Bedford Town 3.
It would have taken something heroic to fight back from that sort of deficit. When Matt Clifford shot from distance and Norris spilled the ball for a 47th minute corner it looked as if the Sarnies were going to face more of the same in the second period. Egham were playing too many aimless long passes to no-one in particular and there was next to nothing going down the flanks. Bedford only occasionally looked troubled. When the Sarnies did manage an effort on target it was Neville again with a header. Harris may have saved it, maybe not, but Morgan, two yards out, tried an extravagant back flick to divert the ball in but instead sent it over the bar. The home side were creating little or nothing, even with the half time substitution of midfielder Wes Daly for forward Chris Moore, giving Egham some more weight up front. The fourth Bedford goal, though, confirmed that this was a lost cause, Leroy Griffiths flicking home a header without too much defensive attention. There were 20 minutes left. Twenty one minutes later Pashaj fought his way through at least three midfield tackles down the centre of the pitch before delivering to Morgan the sort of pass he’d been starved of in normal time. One look, one low drive into the bottom right corner, one angry Bedford keeper upset at seeing a clean sheet bonus go west. It was not, in way, shape or form any sort of consolation, just a demonstration of how things might have been done before Egham let the game run away from them.
Four goals conceded, twice, against a mid-table side who become the first to do the double over the Sarnies (it was 3-4 at The Eyrie), is not good enough, clearly, but Egham are still second with 69 points. They have a game in hand over leaders Kings Langley but the sides around them now look even more threatening. Royston, whom Egham have not yet faced (the last game of the season is the away trip), are comfortably outscoring the Sarnies (81 to 65) and sit three points behind them in third, with an eight goal advantage. Egham had the best defence in the division but now share a “GA” total of 29 with fifth placed St Ives Town, five points behind. Pre-season favourites AFC Rushden & Diamonds sit in 4th place with 64 points from 34 games.
While watching tonight’s match I was reminded of our Combined Counties League Championship season, 2012-2013. We were at home to a truly dreadful Hartley Wintney side and lost 1-6, partly because keeper Paul Borg had a stinker. It did not derail the home run, just made the squad realise that they needed to get back to basics, and do what they had been doing all season to put the Sarnies in contention. I hope, I really hope, that tonight is our Hartley Wintney moment. The first test is against Godalming Town, at home, on Saturday.
EGHAM TOWN: Jamie Norris, Hassan Sulaiman, Ryan Parsons, Reece Yorke, Luke Neville, Kurtney Brooks, Jake Cass, Wes Daly, Brendan Matthew, Aaron Morgan, Bajram Pashaj. Substitutes: Mitchell Gutteridge (Parsons, 56), Callum Webb, Ollie Jones (Yorke, 80), Chris Moore (Daly, HT), James Reading.