Men’s 1st XI v Bedford

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Chelmsford’s fight against relegation took a dramatic and unexpected twist in their favour with two superb results over the weekend. After Simon Bird notched a 68th minute winner against Bedford on Saturday, Chelmsford pulled off an astonishing comeback from three goals down against league-topping St Albans on Sunday. The results not only clear them off the bottom of the table for the first time this season, but they are also two points clear of the relegation zone with just four games to play.

Despite their mid-table position, Bedford have a reputation for being one of the grittiest and hardest teams to beat in the division. It was therefore somewhat of a surprise that the visitors made a lacklustre start, and Chelmsford made inroads into the Bedford defence knowing that a positive result was more than just a possibility. However, it was Bedford who took the lead when a long ball into the D was not cut out, and after a game of pinball in the goalmouth, the ball was knocked inside an unguarded far post.

Chelmsford did not let this disappointment hold them back, and they soon pulled themselves level. Captain Adam Hunter, enjoying a deeper role in recent weeks, made a late unmarked run to the top of the D, and having picked the ball up on the run produced a wicked dipping finish of a quality not often seen at this level.

For most of the season, Chelmsford have been guilty of not taking advantage of chances when they come their way, and it looked like this may have been costly again when a number of opportunities were squandered. However, they did seize the initiative shortly before half time when Luke Mepham, with his back to goal, shifted the ball left and cracked a reverse stick shot past the keepers’ right foot.

After the break, it was clear that a more familiar Bedford spirit would contest the second half. More pressure was exerted on Chelmsford higher up the pitch and the hosts struggled to string together any flowing moves. It seemed inevitable that Bedford would find an equaliser, and they did just that 10 minutes in when a rebound was turned home at the first attempt at a short corner. The momentum had swung in Bedford’s favour, but Chelmsford somehow hauled themselves back into the game with both teams looking for a winner.

As it had been the previous week, it was a dramatic last five minutes that decided the outcome. With nerves and tempers fraying, Bedford were reduced to 10 men for dissent and Chelmsford took full advantage.  A move down the left saw a cross bounce across the face of goal, and Bird latched onto the loose ball to fire a half volley from a tight angle against the top of the backboard and into the roof of the net.

Bedford continued to press for an equaliser and won a short corner with a minute on the clock, but despite a well executed routine, James McCann dived low to his right to turn the shot round his post and secure three hard earned points for Chelmsford.

Chelmsford: 3
Bedford: 2