BUZZARDS FINAL DISAPPOINTMENT
LEIGHTON BUZZARD 17– 27 BEDFORD ATHLETIC
Leighton Buzzard had a disappointing end to their season losing to Bedford Athletic in the Bedfordshire Cup Final on Thursday evening. The Buzzards had plenty of opportunities to win an entertaining game, with long periods of territory and possession, but failed to capitalise on numerous chances. In contrast, the visitors, universally known as Beds Ath, were clinical when opportunities arose.
The match kicked off at 8pm under floodlights on a warm, still evening in front of a crowd in excess of 150. Leighton, having won the toss, chose to play uphill in the first half. Straightaway Buzzards appeared focused, playing the game at good tempo and retaining possession through numerous phases. However, in a portent of what was to come, the visitors finally won possession from a lineout deep in their own half and broke away to score their first try. After four minutes Buzzards trailed 0-7.
Buzzards hit back quickly. Regaining possession through a number of phases the ball was spread wide to winger Raef Braithwaite, who chipped ahead and then used his speed to regain the ball and touch down. The conversion was missed, leaving the score
Fifteen minutes into the game, Buzzards went down to fourteen men when Jon Henkes was shown a yellow card following an altercation. Beds Ath kicked the penalty to the corner and drove over for their second try. Worse was to come eight minutes later, when, following a good break by their left winger, the ball was swiftly transferred for a try under the posts. With one of these tries converted, Leighton trailed 5-19.
Again Buzzards responded, and with Jon Henkes now back on following his ten minute suspension, the scrum looked solid and was providing good ball. This possession was well used by Mike Robert, who put a delicate grubber kick behind the Beds Ath defence for Harri Sayer to regather and score. James Brett converted to cut the deficit to 12-19, with ten minutes of the half to go. Beds Ath added a penalty with the last kick of the half to make the score 12-22 at the break.
Now with the benefit of the slope and a renewed determination, Buzzards started the half well. In fact it would be twenty minutes before the visitors could get out of their half, but it was Leighton’s inability to make the most of this pressure that would ultimately cost them. Raef Braithwaite did touch down after ten minutes following an excellent break by Ash Walsh but the touch judge ruled a forward pass. Five minutes later Eddie Wiggins spotted a gap in the defence after Mike Robert had been tackled and crossed unopposed. Inexplicably, the conversion from almost in front of the posts was missed to leave Buzzards trailing 17-22. Minutes later Leighton had a golden chance to draw level but the final pass was dropped on the right wing.
Finally Beds Ath made it into Buzzard terrority. There was a certain inevitability and also a credit to their clinical finishing that they scored a try from their first attack of the half, driving over following a lineout. With the conversion missed, Buzzards trailed by ten points, 17- 27, with fifteen minutes left .
Back came Buzzards, again having most of the territory. A third overlap opportunity was missed, when, after a fine break by Eddie Wiggins, he was unable to make the scoring pass to the supporting Dami Adebayo. Try as Leighton did there were no further additions to the score, leaving Bedford Athletic as Bedfordshire Cup winners 27-17.
Whilst relegation is always disappointing, level six is a tough standard and Leighton have remained competitive. There has been much to encourage the Buzzards’ support, particularly in the second half of the season, as Head Coach Tom Mowbray has organised and motivated his young side and they have responded with commitment and a spirit that bodes well for next year.