NGU 3 Biggleswade United 1
By Pat Hillier
Well deserved and essential win for the Blues to help stave off the risk of relegation
After earning just one point in their last five games and with the threat of relegation still looming over North Greenford, this win over fourth placed Biggleswade United was of massive importance for the Blues in their struggle to ensure they avoid the drop. Like the home win against Edgware Town just over a month ago, this was another performance that ranks amongst the best the Blues have produced during what has, for the most part, been an extremely disappointing campaign.
With the players unavailable for the Tring Athletic match on Saturday back in the starting line-up, the team showed bags of spirit, effort and endeavour throughout the contest. This was coupled, for most of the contest, with plenty of quality, and although the players tired somewhat during the final stages after Biggleswade United had pulled a goal back, they nevertheless dug in well right up to the final whistle to protect their two goal cushion.
Looking sharp from the outset, the Blues took an early lead when, with less than 10 minutes on the clock, the visitors’ defence failed to clear a high ball played into the six yard box and striker Ricky Pither – who last appeared for the club back at the beginning of September – was on hand to head home from close range.
From that point Greenford dominated the game for the remainder of the half, playing neat, attractive, quick passing football with their high-flying opponents looking tired and sluggish in comparison. Indeed it wasn’t until the 35th minute that Biggleswade United had their first significant attempt on goal, a looping header that Blues keeper Frazer Siddall had to tip over his crossbar.
Four minutes before the break Greenford deservedly extended their lead. A neat move between midfielder Andrew Manitou and Pither ended with Pither attempting to find the far corner from a narrow angle. The ball was cleared but fell into the path of Conor Molyneaux in the middle of the area who fired a well-controlled volley into the back of the visitors’ net giving keeper Ollie Leslie no chance.
Not surprisingly Biggleswade United looked determined to raise their game at the start of the second period, clearly aiming to reduce the deficit as quickly as possible. Greenford though also began the half well continuing to play attacking football and not resting on their laurels.
Just after the hour the Blues added a third and once again it was Conor Molyneaux. this time pouncing on a ball outside the area and claiming his brace with a sublime, audacious chip over Leslie into the roof of the net.
With some twenty minutes of normal time remaining the game was marred by an altercation between the players to the left of the Greenford goal following a foul on Blues left back Sam Molyneaux. Having consulted his assistant Dylan Ossei who had witnessed the incident, referee Mark Bright sent off Biggleswade United substitute Taylor Rhiney and showed a yellow card to Greenford centre-back Manu Oke-William.
Not long after this incident, which did not reflect the overall spirit in which this game had been played, the visitors gave themselves a real chance of getting back into the game when, following a free kick that was not dealt with well by the Blues defence, midfielder Joe Hankins, unmarked at the far post, produced a clinical close range finish to reduce the deficit.
The visitors were obviously lifted by the goal and, with the Greenford players clearly tiring, the final ten minutes plus stoppage time provided a tense, nervy finale for the home contingent as play inevitably became extremely scrappy. But every single Blues player continued to give their all to ensure they did not concede again, and they admirably succeeded in doing just that.
On the overall balance of play this had been a well-deserved and crucial win for North Greenford though with London Tigers also winning the relegation threat has not yet been removed and the Blues will be looking to produce a similar performance and outcome when the club entertain Arlesey Town at Berkeley Fields on Saturday.
NGU Team: Frazer Siddall, Thomas Ward, Sam Molyneaux, Andrew Manitou, Nick Turner, Manu Oke-William, Chris Drake, Ben Long (captain), Ricky Pither (Emmanuel Ndukwu 79), Liam Hind, Conor Molyneaux