Derby 17 Bedford Athletic 10

Bedford Athletic fell to a 17-10 defeat away to Derby in a close National 3 Midlands encounter.

This was a game that Bedford Athletic contrived to lose having led 10-7 at half time, but were unable to supply a score in the second half that would have enhanced that lead and as a result were overtaken by a determined home outfit that knew when to score and how.

Early penalties went against Bedford Athletic to the extent that Derby had an early shot at goal which George Castledine missed leaving the visitors none the worst for a slow start to the game. Early exchanges proved to be a battle of attrition in midfield and it wasn’t until Andy Ince broke through the home defence that the visitors were able to exert any authority. A line out in the home 22 saw Tommy Mills able to burst through onto the ball and he created the extra man that saw Stuart Livesey home to score the first try on 16 minutes and a 5-0 lead. Both sides continued to be evenly matched and with their respective lineouts malfunctioning chances grew and Bedford Athletic were next to profit when a stolen lineout saw the away side attack with purpose in the home 22, Tommy Mills again adding the extra man to allow Josh Cassell to retrieve David Simpson’s kick through for the score. James Mortimer missed the conversion. Derby stole the kick off, Ben Marlowe making good ground in the 22 before Derby were able to put pressure on a visiting scrum and having turned that to their advantage they then powered over for the try awarded to No.8 Tommy Taylor-Dawes.

Leading 10-7 at the break, a good start was imperative for the visitors and this was nearly achieved when they broke from their own half on 48 minutes. Nick Thomas charged upfield to find Jake Foster in support and he was agonisingly held up over the line, with the resulting attacking scrum also squandered and the chance of a score gone. Bizarrely Bedford Athletic then began to chase the game despite leading 10-7 and with the added pressure of deploying a running game when a game based on kicking for territory would have sufficed, errors were bound to come. On the hour mark, Bedford Athletic were caught short of numbers in midfield and when the ball was turned over, it was a simple task for Derby to attack fast and straight with the result that Ben Marlowe was able to finish off the scoring chance, although Castledine was unable to convert. The visitors continued to press for a way back into the game, however other than a series of direct runs from their man of the match Andy Ince and the penetration out wide from Josh Cassell they struggled to make an impact. The final 20 minutes were a frenetic affair and this did not help Bedford Athletic as they were not able to impose a kicking game to dominate territory, nor a possession game to control the pace of the game. As a result too often the ball was spread wide and turned over through players running out of support, or the ball was not advanced aggressively enough up the field through a pick and drive game that would have suited the conditions. Eventually Derby turned the ball over once more and this time the replacement scrum half Josh Tilford was on the end of the scoring opportunity, the unconverted try giving Derby a 17-10 lead with ten minutes to play. Unable to make any ground in the middle of the park and too often turned over through lack of support when they went wide, there were no further scoring opportunities for the visitors and in a game in which they really needed a win to establish their survival credentials, time eventually ebbed away leaving them with nothing more than a losing bonus point for their efforts.

Trailing safety in the league by nine points, Bedford Athletic entertain Lichfield this Saturday in a game in which a victory is vital to launch a successful escape from the relegation places they now find themselves in.