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Match Reports

Report: Real Bedford 4-1 Stevenage FCW

14 August 2023

Match Reports

Report: Real Bedford 4-1 Stevenage FCW

14 August 2023

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Stevenage FCW slumped to defeat in the first game of the season with the main highlight being a debut goal for young Lilia Dempsey. The Boro’ could be forgiven for thinking they had undergone piracy on the high seas after a first half display with no fewer than five clear cut opportunities spurned, a penalty conceded in each half and a red card to boot. In truth though, it was just one of those days in what was an otherwise entertaining encounter.

From the moment the team arrived and entered the tunnel to the dressing rooms, the ground gave off a vibe akin to that of a theme park prior to going on a frightening rollercoaster. The game itself was exactly that. Boro’ were out of the blocks immediately and played with verve and vigour. Chances were beginning to be created, but the momentum was halted when Bedford attacked, as Gemma Franklin tried to knock the ball over Katie White. The ball jammed underneath her arm and Emma Chamberlain had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Gemma Croucher, an ex-Stevenage player from 2016/17, stepped up to put away an unstoppable penalty high above the outstretched arms of Mia O’Brien.

From this point on, Stevenage rallied and could consider themselves unfortunate not to have levelled and gained an advantage. First came an attempt from the energetic Kelsey Millen, who will be disappointed to have seen her attempt fly narrowly over the bar.

Then came skipper for the day and newly appointed Vice-Captain, Amy Makewell. Her one-two with Millen opened up an opportunity for a shot from distance that again whistled just over the bar.

Shortly afterwards, Stevenage were awarded a free kick which was sent deep by Hannah Nebbitt. It was perfection as Rebecca Edge stole in at the back, but her right footed shot went narrowly wide with Sarah Hudson seemingly beaten.

It was Hudson who became the hero for Bedford. As Rebecca Edge controlled a great corner from the left-hand side. She dug the ball out and in the blink of an eye saw her first shot rebound off Hudson’s legs and the second one smothered.

Bedford were riding their luck and another teasing ball from the left was gobbled up by Millen, who rose to meet the ball with her head, only to see it rebound immediately from the crossbar and cleared by Kaylen Gerkey.

The final chance of note in the first half came when a superb ball from the right found Nebbitt whose thunderous left footer was driven towards goal, but also Hudson who with a strong pair of hands pushed the ball away from goal for Amy Reed to hook away to safety.

With 30 seconds left of the half, Fensome was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes alongside a yellow card, meaning Bedford would start the second half without their legendary striker.

Boro’ started the second half strongly too and Makewell would have been annoyed that her effort at the far post could not find the target. Slowly, Bedford worked their way into the game before disaster struck for the away side. Natasha Fensome, who had returned to the pitch moments earlier, rounded Mia O’Brien and sent a left footer goalwards. Emily Schofield attempted to block, but with the ball heading in, it struck her arm changing the direction of the ball. A penalty was awarded and Schofield was asked to walk the plank off the pitch. Croucher stepped up again and hammered the ball home centrally for her second of the day.

The next 30 minutes were patchy, with many substitutions and breaks in play. Mia O’Brien made two fantastic saves, one to deny captain Zara Carroll on her 50th appearance for the club, nabbing the ball away from her feet. The second followed a let off as Fensome found space and saw her shot hit the crossbar as O’Brien narrowed the window of opportunity. This time, it was a point blank save with her knees to deny Croucher her hat trick.

Boro’ pushed on as the game opened up and this space and frenetic pace led to Fensome finding space in the final five minutes of normal time and sending a low driven shot past the outstretched hand of O’Brien.

Things looked bleak for Stevenage, but to the credit of the team they fought on. However, it was the substitute Neve Mays who won the battle with Rebecca Edge in the fourth minute of ten added on. From close range she smashed the ball past a helpless O’Brien to gloss a scoreline that did not seem indicative of the overall game.

Boro’ did add a goal shortly afterwards when Anna Baker-Re curled in a delightful ball from the left for debutant Lilia Dempsey to flick inside the far post and out of reach of Hudson. It was a difficult result to take with Makewell stating, “We ran our socks off, the energy was there so we have positives to take from it.”

Meanwhile the manager was equally positive, The performance was good and the first half was exceptional. We were unfortunate to go in one goal down, but their ‘keeper has kept them in it. It is one of those ones you take on the chin and move on.”

Makewell added, “The positivity is still there.” It should be, there’s still 21 games to go after all. Football is back and Boro’ will be too.

Real Bedford XI: Hudson, Reed, Milliken, Gerkey, Crooks, Carroll, Croucher, Washington, Franklin, Fensome, Partridge.

Subs: Billing, Mulvihill, Bhatti, Ajayi, Mays

Goals: Croucher x 2, Fensome, Mays

Booked: Washington, Fensome

Stevenage XI: O’Brien, Martin, Edge, Gunn, Nebbitt, White, Baker-Re, Bodily, Schofield, Makewell, Millen

Subs: Farmer, Gooderham, Dempsey, Southby

Sent Off: Schofield

You can see Stevenage FCW in action in their first home game of the season as they do battle with Bowers & Pitsea on Sunday 20th August. Keep your eye on the social media platforms for more details - @stevenagefcw.

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