Battling Rams earn Bedford draw

Petersfield Town striker Howard Neighbour, left    Picture: Neil Marshall
Petersfield Town striker Howard Neighbour, left Picture: Neil Marshall
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Petersfield Town’s players deserve enormous credit after battling back from a two-goal half-time deficit to claim a point in a 2-2 Southern League central division draw at Bedford Town.

That’s the view of Rams assistant boss Jason Hampson after the visitors emerged from an entertaining clash at The New Eyrie with a well-deserved share of the spoils, thanks to second-half goals from Howard Neighbour and substitute Gary Norgate.

‘I am very pleased to come away from a long away trip with a point,’ said Hampson.

‘We were much the better side in the second half and I felt we could have nicked all three points.

‘We gave them a bit of a headstart, letting them get a 2-0 lead.

‘But the fact we stuck at it in the first half with some great blocks while hanging in the game, meant we were able to come back in the second period.

‘The lads really didn’t have anything left in the tank at the end – they were all struggling to walk off the pitch after the enormous effort.

‘They all deserve an enormous amount of credit for the comeback.

Petersfield were first to threaten on four minutes when Alek Przespolewski squared to Joe Briggs, who shot just wide from the edge of the area.

The Rams were lucky to still be level a minute later, though, when Bedford’s Dylan Gittens evaded three tackles before unleashing a low shot which hit the post and fell to Bilal Yafai – only for defender Olly Searle to miraculously block his shot behind for a corner.

The hosts were not to be denied, though, and led after 24 minutes when Gittens held off the challenge of Sean Wain to fire home from a fine sweeping move.

Bedford doubled their lead three minutes later, this time hitting Petersfield on the counter attack.

Having committed men forwards, the Rams found themselves outnumbered as Yafai shot low past keeper Anthony Ender – only for his shot to rebound off the post kindly for Javia Roberts to tap home a second.

Petersfield almost reduced the arrears straight from the kick-off when Howard Neighbour tried to catch home goalkeeper Tyler Reading off his line with a shot from the halfway line, which the alert stopper tipped over the crossbar for a corner.

In the final few moments of an eventful first half, Briggs twice came close to getting the Rams on the scoresheet.

First, his curling free-kick caused panic in the Bedford box as a defender headed against his own post.

And moments later, the attacker forced Reading into a sprawling save from a second set-piece effort.

Petersfield did reduce the arrears five minutes into the second half, though, when Neighbour flicked a long free-kick over the head of onrushing Bedford keeper Reading and into an empty net.

Ender then prevented Yafai from restoring the home side’s two-goal lead with a smart stop at the other end, before the Rams levelled the scoreline on the hour mark.

Briggs’ deep cross was missed by everyone, except for super-sub Norgate who slammed home at the far post.

In a tense finale, Ender again denied Yafai before Wain blocked a goalbound effort from Bedford sub Stefan Powell.

With the clock ticking down, Briggs had a late chance to snatch all three points for the visitors, only to be denied by alert goalkeeping from Reading.