FA Trophy: Biggleswade Town 2 Wealdstone 1
PUBLISHED: 18:45 15 December 2018
©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468
Matt Ball scored an 85th-minute winner to knock his former club Wealdstone out of the FA Trophy at Langford Road.
The hosts had taken the lead on the half-hour mark but Stones equalised from the spot, before Ball took Biggleswade to the second round late on.
Wealdstone were hit by several injuries and knocks this week, leaving manager Bobby Wilkinson with no choice but to recruit players from elsewhere. Striker and Colchester youth loanee Eoin McKeown started the match with two new additions on the bench in young Alexander Samizadeh and Polishman Pawel Kowalkowski. David Pratt was fit enough to start the game.
Losing full backs Rhys Tyler and Joe Payne to injury left no option in defence with Jake Sheppard and Jerome Okimo filling the positions, and early into the tie they had much to contend.
Biggleswade tested Wealdstone with high balls into the 18-yard box and a free-kick from late replacement Ben Walster. Peter Clark stormed through on goal after 11 minutes to force the onrushing Jonathan North into a save.
Amid the calls for offside, Biggleswade looked focused, but the conditions made it tough, the strong wind taking the resulting corner out for a goal kick. Rain began to come down and Wealdstone struggled to pass the halfway line as Biggleswade pressed high.
Ball tested North again with a free-kick 25 yards out and Town forced a series of corners in a serious case of weathering the storm for Stones who were under mass pressure in the first 20 minutes.
Half an hour into the game Walster’s corner swung to the near post was flicked into the far post by former Stones player Joe White to put Town 1-0 up. Wealdstone sprung into reaction mode, as Bradley Hudson-Odoi cut inside and was brought down inside the box, for Christian Smith to tuck the penalty into the bottom right corner to level the scoring.
The two goals gave the game some leverage in terms of competitiveness, but the hammering rain didn’t do the playing surface any favours. But Stones finished the half the stronger side, as Godfrey Poku saw a sight of an open goal with Biggleswade keeper Sam Donkin out of position, but Donkins somehow managed to flick his leg up to superbly tip the shot over the bar.
McKeown had his first opportunity to make a mark on proceedings shortly after the interval, but drilled his shot low across the keeper and two yards wide.
The second half was a game for direct football and chasing lost causes to force mistakes and it truly was anyone’s game with players struggling to stay on their feet in midfield.
Sheppard slid through the pitch like a mudslide at one point, but dangerman Hudson-Odoi had a great chance on the hour mark, when put through by Poku, sliding the ball across the face of goal for substitute Samizadeh who couldn’t turn in.
North had work to do immediately at the other end, keeping out Ball’s fierce shot, while Biggleswade failed to make use of Connor Stevens over-committing and Samizadeh raced down the other end forcing Donkin to come to the rescue.
Simon Mensah received the quick throw-in and was inches away from scoring a tremendous lob, with the effort sailing just over the bar.
Town had a penalty appeal waved away after a challenge from Glenn Wilson and were incredibly close to scoring 13 minutes from time when Bradley Bell’s firm header was clawed away and Joe White’s low drive was saved by the brilliant North.
However, a Biggleswade winner came when ex-Stones player Ball fired past the helpless North and celebrated in front of the visiting fans, which left a sour taste at the end of a finely contested tie in horrendous conditions.