This is Biggleswade's first season in the South Midlands League after being formed in May last year from the Biggleswade Town Under 18 side. Their first season has been extremely successful, so much so that, coming into this game, they were sitting on top of the league level on points but with a far superior goal difference to Baldock. In third place were Harpenden Town, having played the same amount of games and being three points adrift of the top two. With Langford a further six points back, the title looked very much like a three horse race.
The Langford Road Stadium has not changed much since my last visit, so no real need to describe it again. Instead, let's see what happened in the game.
It was Baldock who looked the more eager of the two sides in the first five minutes, snapping into tackles and moving the ball around quickly. However, despite having much the better of the opening encounters they found themselves behind after just five minutes.
Biggleswade's first meaningful attack saw a lovely played inside in between the Baldock centre-halves and right-back for Tom Cookman to run onto just inside the left-hand corner of the box. He took a touch and shaped a lovely shot past Farmer into the far corner. 1-0.
The game was fast developing into an intriguing battle between two evenly matched sides. Baldock were, in my opinion, having the edge in terms of possession but Biggleswade probably made the greater number of opportunities, albeit nothing really clear cut. In fact, neither side managed to stretch the opposition goalkeeper until a few minutes before the break when the Biggleswade keeper had to be alert to keep his side in front following an effort from Owen Robertson.
HT Biggleswade 1 Baldock Town 0. Both sides working very hard, especially in midfield. A half of few clear cut opportunities, Baldock edged possession overall but didn't make the Biggleswade keeper work until the half was almost over.
The Reds flew out of the blocks and within two minutes of the restart Lewis Barker was unfortunate to see his rasping drive come back off the bar. Baldock continued to press Biggleswade and on 52 minutes, following a right-wing corner, they were awarded a penalty. When the ball was played into the six yard area a number of players went for the ball and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. I could not see an infringement myself, mainly because so many bodies attacked the ball, but there din't seem to be too much in the way of protest from the defence.
Luke Gregson made no mistake from the spot. 1-1.
Whereas the first half had been predominantly a battle fought in midfield, neither side were having any of that in the second 45 minutes with both sides going flat out to win the game.
Within five minutes of Baldock getting onto level terms they were behind again, almost out of the blue. The ball was switched out to the Biggleswade right flank and when a low, hard, cross came in there was Cookman to turn the ball into the net for his, and Biggleswade's, second of the night. 2-1.
Baldock heads could have dropped at this point, conceding so soon after getting themselves back into the game. They were having none of that though and it only took them six minutes to level the game up again. It was more of a route one effort this time. A long ball through the middle was flicked on by Gregson. Lee Harman had anticipated his partner getting a touch and that, combined with his blistering pace, took him clear of his marker. He ran onto the ball, beating the onrushing keeper, before firing the ball home for 2-2.
There was to be no let-up in incidents though. Biggleswade tried to hit back immediately and only a good save from Farmer prevented Cookman from claiming his hat-trick and putting the home side back in front. Seconds later, at the other end, Gregson had a chance to put Baldock in front but blasted over when he probably felt he should have scored. In Gregson's defence, the amount of work he had got through at this point was probably enough to grant him some leniency in not scoring.
He need not have worried too much anyway. On 72 minutes Baldock won a corner on their left which was defended well at the far post but at the expense of another corner, this time from the right. When this ball was played deep into the Biggleswade box it was headed back into the mix only for the home keeper to pull off a great reflex save. His efforts, however, were in vain as Liam Kenna was first to react, planting the ball into the back of the net. 2-3.
With well under 20 minutes remaining Baldock could have been excused for trying to close the game down and take away the three points. In fact, they may well have tried to do that but Biggleswade, to their credit, kept plugging away.
With only a minute or so left. Farmer made another superb save which looked to have sealed the points for The Reds. That was until the 95th minute when late pressure from Biggleswade earned them a penalty. Once again, I could not see the infringement clearly, but there was no doubt in the referee's mind.
Nathan George held his nerve and stroked the ball past Farmer to make it 3-3 and earn his side a valuable point.
This was almost the last kick of the game and what a game it was too, Two contrasting halves. The first a fascinating midfield tussle between to very well matched sides. The second a breathless, all out attacking feats of football. An absolute joy to watch. Both sides should be proud of their efforts and the fabulous advert for Step 6 football that they showed.
Biggleswade FC - @biggleswadefc1
Baldock Town - @baldocktownfc
So, how have last night's results affected the league title race. Well, with Harpenden winning 4-0 at Winslow, the top three are now separated by just one point with six games each to play.
Here are the remaining fixtures for all three teams:
Biggleswade - Ampthill (H), Risborough (H), Langford (A), Arlesey (H), Wodson Park (A), Winslow (A)
Baldock - Wodson Park (A), Risborough (A), Brimsdown (A), Codicote (H), Harpenden (A), Ampthill (A)
Harpenden - Risborough (A), Ampthill (H), Hatfield (A), Baldock (H), Codicote (H), Brimsdown (H)
Interestingly, both Ampthill and Risborough Rangers could have a major say in the championship, with bith still having to play all of the top three. The standout fixture is probably Harpenden Town v Baldock Town, scheduled for April 18.
Baldock appear to have the tougher run-in with five of their six games being away from home, including that big one at Harpenden. Biggleswade have three games against top half teams and three against bottom half teams remaining. It is Harpendedn who, in my humble opinion, have the best opportunity. They may be a point adrift but they have four remaining home games versus two away. They have four games against teams below halfway in the table and they have a certain amount of control over their own destiny with the game against Baldock.
Without a doubt, it's going to be a very close finish to the season and I'm sure that the best team will win it overall. From what I witnessed last night, it would be a shame for anyone to lose out.