Super Sarge seals Saints success
Bedford Ladies 1st team secured a vital 3 points in their battle to retain their Investec East Conference status with a 3-2 win against local rivals St Albans.
Bedford had Becky Tarrant and Charlotte Holland back in the squad and were looking to secure a first league double after beating the Tangerines 5-2 away on the first day of the season. Bedford started the game confidently and took the lead inside 5 minutes when Kate Costin emphatically diverted Rachel Jackson’s short corner strike high into the goal. Bedford were controlling the game but were soon pegged back on level terms when a long ball bypassed the maroons' defence and a St Albans forward rounded Leanne Sargeant.
Bedford were defending strongly with Emma Pinny and Jenna Maclaren making good supporting runs forward whilst Clare Bilham was at the heart of many of Bedford’s attacking moves with some neat linking touches. Charlotte Holland was close to converting at the back post but generally chances were few and far between for both teams. St Albans were looking for a direct option, so SJ Darrington and Beth Noble needed to be alert and step in front of their markers. Claire Higginson and Steph Holyoak rotated up front to keep applying pressure to the St Albans defence.
After the break, Bedford again were looking to seize the initiative but Sargeant was called upon to make a vital clearing save when a pacey Albans forward was through one on one. Becca Budd and Becky Tarrant were finding the forwards whilst Bilham and Pinny had opportunities on goal thwarted. Martin Mason-McLeod’s side were mainly threatening from slick penalty corners and took the lead through captain Jackson’s sweetly struck shot which wrong footed the keeper. Bedford pushed forward again, and another set piece saw Sam Turner prod home the rebound after an initial shot was not dealt with by the visitors' defence.
Bedford were working hard as a team and there were some vital interceptions by Elli Priston, whilst Darrington made a great clearance off the line. Leanne Sargeant was again tested with some great reaction saves but tension was increased when the umpire awarded a penalty stroke and the game was brought back to 3-2. In the games final stages, the home crowd were willing the ball forward but the tangerines were battling hard and again MOTM Sargeant had to be at her best with a double save from a corner but Bedford held firm and moved up to 6th place in the league. Next week they host Barnes in another vital match. Push back at Chester Road is at 2-30pm