Written by Andrew Madaras
Photo by Liam Smith
So near yet so far. Referee Dan Jones final whistle on Saturday on a wind-blown and chilly ATP2 brought an end to a evenly contested encounter between the Blues and Biggleswade Utd which finished in a 1-1 draw. It may also have brought about an end to the Blues chances of finishing second & in the only play off place afforded by the League & FA this season.
The seeds of disappointment had been sewn only 36 hours earlier when Risborough Rangers left Creasey Park, with a hard fought 3 -2 victory under their belts.
Joe Deeney, as we all know by now, never ducks an issue and always fronts up to everything. His disappointment at the performance from some of his players on Saturday was raw, painful, tangible and there for all to see. It was as if the defeat on Thursday night had knocked the confidence and stuffing out of some, who had, to paraphrase Joe’s words, decided it was time for the beach and not the cut and thrust of a “must win” encounter.
Some of the squad may have played themselves out of an invitation to return for pre-season training in June/July, others though will have cemented their places in the list and will receive their individual fitness plans for the summer lay off.
Thursday had started off so well and didn’t betray any of the late drama that was to follow. An early cross shot from Danny Webb was superbly saved by the Risborough keeper and pushed on to the post before Luke Dunstan broke the deadlock on 11 minutes with a wickedly deceptive corner which deceived everyone and bounced low into the corner of the net.
Unfortunately, the Blues couldn’t build on their lead and by the interval found themselves a goal behind thanks to two Risborough goals before the half hour. The equalizer coming only two minutes after the Blues went ahead.
Kyle Faulkner got the Blues back on level terms with 15 minutes left on the clock with his 11th goal of the season on his 49th appearance for the Blues. However, there was still time for a dramatic late twist. There’s a reason why Risborough Rangers boast the best away record in the League. Indeed if their home record was as good as their away record they would be challenging for the top spot with Leighton Town.
The League’s second most prolific goal scorers have in their ranks Asher Yearwood who increased his goal tally for the season to 21 with a brace and is the League’s 4th highest goalscorer.
Not content to settle for a point Risborough scored again late on in the game through Joel Reid to claim all three points.
There was no faulting the Blues effort, Connor Hunt in the Risborough goal pulled off a couple of world class saves to deny the Blues a share of the points.
Torrential overnight rain on Thursday & all day on Friday left Creasey Park looking like a swimming pool.
Kit Man, Steve Lewington saved the day by suggesting we ask the League if we could switch Saturday’s match to one of the all weather pitches behind the main stadium pitch.
Several frantic & pleading phone calls later and we had secured the agreement of the League, the match officials, our opponents and Creasey Park management to switch the game on to the newest of the two all-weather pitches (ATP).
A generator was hired so we could have pre-match music to entertain a higher-than-average crowd of 218, and Matt could keep everyone up to date with goal scorers, times and substitutions.
The DTFC matchday volunteering team swung into action and were magnificent in preparing the ATP, Club flags adorned the wire surrounds, Dan brought up the merchandise stall and an expectant crowd gathered on the one side of the “cage” that is suitable for spectators.
Before kick off Joe Deeney was awarded the Fair Play award for February, presented to him by SSML official, John Chidley.
Ruairi’s goal was the highlight on a disappointing day but keep your eyes on the fortunes of Blues debutant keeper, Rylee Mitchell, who aged just over 17, registered for the Club on a work experience loan from his parent club Stevenage on registration and transfer deadline day.
Carl Knox was unavailable, Connor Coulson was still injured and in stepped Rylee, who had a very confident game, and showed excellent handling and distribution. It was Rylee’s clearance which set up the Blues goal. One spectacular save in the second half will have done his confidence the world of good.
A point a piece was a fair reflection of a game that had that “end of season” feel to it. There are still seven games left and 21 points to play for. Joe will accept nothing less than maximum effort from his players until the final whistle blows away at Stotfold on the 22nd April. Anyone who thinks the foot will be off the gas pedal between now and 5 pm on the 22nd April is in for a shock. Now, more than ever, Joe will be looking to see who has the fight and the desire to chase balls which look like being a lost cause and get sweat on the shirt, and will be representing the Club again next season.