Gregory inspires Harpenden recovery

HARPENDEN Town went away to Bedford Town Reserves for another six-pointer on a wet and wind-swept Saturday afternoon.

Molten Spartan South Midlands League Division One

Bedford Town Reserves 4 Harpenden Town 4

HARPENDEN Town went away to Bedford Town Reserves for another six-pointer on a wet and wind-swept Saturday afternoon.

With the home side just four points ahead of Town in Division One and having played two games more, this was a big match for both sides.

On a flat and slick pitch, Harps started well and had good periods of possession in the opening 15 minutes but were unable to create any clear-cut chances. Their best efforts were a Chris Jones shot through a crowd of players straight at the goalkeeper and a well-struck shot from Ben Dawes which was also well saved.

After a good passage of play, Bedford took the lead from a corner, when poor marking resulted in a Bedford player heading firmly past Harpenden 'keeper Kevin Christou. The home team now applied serious pressure to Harps' goal and Christou was called into action, making two superb saves, diving bravely at the feet of the Bedford forward to claim a 50-50 ball and soon after launching himself to his right to palm away a goal-bound volley.

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Bedford eventually added a second before the break and then looked to have wrapped up the contest with two further strikes to lead 4-0 with 20 minutes to go.

Harpenden made changes as Ben Dawes left the field with an injury to be replaced by Ben Ralphs and Robbie Rix came on in place of Richard Taaffe up front. This double substitution seemed to lift the Town and, with just over 17 minutes to go, Chris Gregory struck from the edge of the penalty area with a smartly taken volley into the top right corner.

Harpenden were passing and moving at speed, with Rix making an exceptional impact. Ali Collins scored the goal his unselfish front running deserved when he followed in a deflected Chris Jones shot, which span up in the air and a deft scissor kick saw the ball nestling in the back of the net.

The Rothamsted Park outfit were now rampant and only a few minutes later centre back Iaian Turkentine dived full length at the back post to head home a tremendous cross from the left wing.

With Bedford reeling, Harps attacked again and, with six minutes left, Chris Gregory audaciously tried a back flick from another fine cross and Town celebrated as it flew into the goal to cap a remarkable fight back.

After seven games in charge, new Harps boss Paul Tomkins has seen the squad win one, draw four and lose twice taking them up two places in the League with survival now in their sights. The manager said: "The squad have reacted superbly to the challenges over the last few games and showed a level of determination and spirit in this match that is heading towards what I expect from them."

Town have another huge game on Saturday at Rothamsted Park against bottom side Cranfield United.