Another late Payne goal edges Town closer to the title
It was a case of deja vu for Town as they had to rely on another late Michael Payne winner to snatch all 3 points, just as they had done last time out
And like that result against Cuffley, again Baldock can count themselves lucky to have won the game, this time they had Man of the Match goalkeeper Nicky Stilwell to thank.
In truth the game was not a spectacle as a hard bumpy pitch lent itself to fairly direct football, as both sides struggled to get the ball down. It was a game of high effort, but low quality as Baldock failed to find their usual passing rythmn that has served them so well this season.
It all started very brightly for them though as with just five minutes on the clock, full back Ross Haskins swung in an inviting cross that Payne met with his head from 8 yards out, but could not manage to keep his header under the bar.
Codicote grew stronger as the first half went on and began to fashion themselves a few shooting chances, although these were restricted to well outside the box. That was until half an hour in, when Codicote got a real good sight of goal when they had an extra man over on the right hand edge of the box, but keeper Stilwell was quick to narrow the angle and make a sharp save to his left as the Codicote forward tried to squeeze the ball in at the near post.
At the other end Gary Christie went close for Baldock as he was put through by Louis Taylor but a last ditch tackle saw the opportunity go begging. Although both teams continued to work hard in the spring sunshine there was no other notable chances and the teams went in all square at 0-0 for half time.
Baldock manager Scott Grant tinkered with his team's shape and personnel during the break in the hope to get his side going and start taking control of the game, but this had little effect as the second half began in the same vain, with plenty of effort to win the ball but lacking quality when they got it.
The usually sturdy Baldock defence was holding strong. However, the longer the game went on a few cracks were starting to appear and they were allowing Codicote too much space and time, especially from set pieces. It was a good job for Baldock that keeper Stilwell was on top of his game though. He pulled off three great saves during the second half, the pick of them being a shot from just a few yards in front of him that he seemed to be diving the wrong way for, but he somehow managed to divert the ball round the post with his trailing foot.
Although Codicote had not been dominant, they had certainly created the better chances and must have been wondering what they needed to do to beat Stilwell. Baldock did carve out a couple of openings, but this was more down to the dribbling qualities of Louis Taylor, as two individual runs both ended with shots at goal, but neither overly tested the Codicote goalkeeper.
Just as both teams were probably settling for a goalless draw Baldock won themselves a free-kick out wide on the left with just two minutes left to play. An in-swinging cross from Town's Scott Rennie seemed to be sailing out of harms reach and too close to the goalkeeper, but to everybody's surprise the keeper left it and the ball struck the inside of the far post and bounced back across goal. Baldock's Michael Payne was first to react and slammed the ball over the line from just two yards out to the relief of the Town contingent, to give them another seemingly late winner.
There was still time for Codicote to fashion one more chance though as the referee found seven minutes of injury time from somewhere, but Codicote's Glen Lamacraft headed over from eight yards out right at the death.
As the saying goes there is more than one way to win a game and Baldock have proved in the last few weeks that they are capable of 'winning ugly'. This win leaves them needing just five more points from their last five league games to claim the league title, as nearest rivals Metropolitan Police Bushey lost to Goff's Oak on Saturday. Town now have Cup competitions on their mind as they have two semi-finals in as many weeks in their continued quest for the treble.
Baldock: Stilwell, Bowskill, Haskins, Lowden, Morgan, Payne, Taylor, Rogers(Rennie 82), Newton, Christie(Furness 64), Morrison