The Orchard is on Hatton Road, a road that runs parallel to the Southern Perimeter Road of Heathrow Airport. In fact, the ground is no more than half a mile from on of the runways which means that planes frequently scream in just to the North of the corner of the ground. Consequently, it's a given that anyone visiting for the first time gets a shot of a low-flying plane above the ground. This is probably more impressive during a daytime game rather than an evening in October when it is already dark.
Bedfont & Feltham have very close neighbours, Bedfont Sports, whose ground is literally next door with the pitch being at a 90 degree angle to The Orchard. So close, in fact, that it is possible a wayward shot at Bedfont Sports could land on The Yellow's pitch. I last visited Bedfont Sports in 2016 for the visit of Badshot Lea (Eagles Edge Seven Goal Thriller) when both Bedfont sides were in the Premier League. Sports have gone on to gain promotion to Step 4 in the interim.
When I started doing some research into this game I was quite surprised to find that neither team is yet 10 years old. Bedfont & Feltham were formed in 2012 when Feltham FC merged with Bedfont Football & Social. Feltham FC themselves had been created through a merger of teams from Feltham and Hounslow. Enfield Borough are an even newer club, being founded in 2016. They started life in the Spartan South Midlands League Division 2, getting promoted in their first season and performing well in Step 6 before moving laterally to the Combined Counties League prior to this season/ Consequently, there are no previous meetings between the clubs.
The clubs came into this game just three points apart, with Enfield holding the upper hand. The Yellows, however, have played four games fewer than their visitors. Borough were coming into the game in rich scoring form, having won 4-2 at Chalvey Sports and 6-4 at Bagshot in their previous two outings. Bedfont & Feltham were in a period of mixed fortunes having lost two and won one of their previous three league games. They also went out of the FA Vase in the middle of this run, going down 4-1 at Berks County. This had, however, come on the back of a three game league winning streak which had started with a superb 9-2 destruction of Deportivo Galicia on their own turf. So, they too have shown they are quite capable of finding the net.
This game looked like a tight affair straight from kick off. Both sides looked to be well organised at the back, both had some pace up front and midfield looked to be a very combative area, with neither side wanting to give ground. We were almost at the 20 minute mark when the first clear cut chance was created. Richard Ennin was played in but, with Sam Bersey in the home goal, making himself big, the Enfield striker could only slide his effort wide of the post. Five minutes later the home ide had the ball in the net when Charlie Lawrence got on the end of deep free-kick to head home, but the assistant's flag was up for offside before the ball hit the back of the net.
There was plenty of good play in the middle of pitch from both sides but very few chances were being created.
It seemed that we would be going into the break goalless until the 44th minute when Michael Capon got free on the right wing. His low, driven cross was met by the stretching figure of Anthony Oakes at the far post, who just about got to the ball and put the home side ahead. 1-0
HT Bedfont & Feltham 1 Enfield Borough 0. A very tight game that looked very much as if it would be all-square at half-time, but the late goal from the hosts sees them just about edge it at the break. Two very evenly match sides who both found it difficult to create clear cut chances.
Enfield had the edge now and despite Bedfont looking to get back into the game, it was the away side who looked to pose the bigger threat, especially down the left through Darral Wopara. Both sides made a few changes as the half wore on, with one or two more niggles starting to surface.
As we approached the final minute the home side had a big shout for a penalty when Capon clashed with Finn Rushton in the Borough goal. The Yellow's striker got to the ball first and was definitely caught by the keeper. It was a big call for the referee, who waved away the protests and signalled for the game to continue much to the displeasure of the locals. The incident happened almost directly in front of me and whilst I can see why the home side and support were upset by the referee's decision, I think it is fair to say that it was one of those 50/50, I've seen them given, incidents. The players collided and the striker had got to the ball first. However, the ball was on the way out of play, Capon would not have reached it. I think the goalkeeper's momentum carried him into Capon, who also seemed to see it coming and 'played' for the penalty to a certain extent. Nothing wrong with that, I might add. No self-respecting striker would have done any differently. Unfortunately for the home side, the referee saw it as this rather than a penalty incident. In my opinion it could have gone either way.
FT Bedfont & Feltham 1 Enfield Borough 2. Two good sides who, for a large part of the game, cancelled each other out. Two good finishes inside 5 minutes for the away side swung the game but, if the late penalty shout had rescued a point for the Yellows, I don't think anyone could have argued that a draw wasn't a fair result. It was an enjoyable game to watch as a neutral and a great non-league ground, well worth a visit.
On Saturday Bedfont & Feltham travel to Arbor Park (Slough Town FC) to take on 16th placed Langley whilst Enfield Borough are at home (Wingate & Finchley FC) against second from bottom Woodley United. If you did fancy a trip to The Orchard you can still do that at the weekend as British Airways, who also play there, take on Eversley & California.
Bedfont & Feltham: S.Bersey, Tesfu, Richard, Lawrence, Francis, Smith, L.Bersey, Brown, Capon, Oakes(c), Mampono. Subs: Blakebrough, Rodriguez, Greenwood, Onu, Mattan
Enfield Borough: Rushton, Wopara, Hinds-Cadette, Mbaza, Nelson(c), Offei-Gyimaha, Stevens, Adiku, Jackson, Ennin, Sarpong. Subs: Mullins, Mussunda, Wane, Lokilo-Imponge, Stefanoaica
Ground Number: 285
Fantastic to see #SideburnBob still featuring on the cover of the Bedfont & Feltham programme. It's such an icon now it has almost become a kite mark for non-league programmes. Long may Bob grace their covers.