Any play, poem or musical composition should have moments of light and in shade in sharp contrast, should be capable of touching emotions, and should work towards a climax. This climax should mark the end of the piece. Nobody will seriously pretend that any football match is a poem or a piece of music, or that it has much intrinsic artistic merit, but the match between Bedford and King’s Lynn at Bedford on Saturday had all the ingredients mentioned above.
There was light and shade without any doubt; the emotions were touched sufficiently to bring a bit of needle into the game, though not enough to cause unpleasantness or to banish good sense; and the tempo increased through a quiet, though keen first half to a thrilling second half and a final climax in which Bedford snatched victory just two minutes before the final whistle.
It was, perhaps, a pity that anybody had to win this match, for both sides were keenly and evenly weighted against each other, and both played whole-heartedly. Yet, in retrospect, perhaps Bedford did just about earn the two points - and revenge for their 2-1 defeat at King’s Lynn in September - by virtue of their more sustained attack in the second half.
This was very largely a game of dominant half-backs and keen forward lines who never quite got on top of solid defences. The battle constantly swayed to and fro, producing first-rate goal-keeping at both ends, hair-raising goal-mouth scrambles, and spells of good, clever, attacking football.
From all the Lynn players three stand out. Reg Foulkes, with the brilliant use of his head, constantly cut out long swinging centres meant for the head of no less brilliant Bedford centre-forward, Duquemin.
"The Duke" has scored a hatful of goals since he joined the Eagles shortly after their cup defeat by Wisbech. Most of them have come because he has been able to beat the opposition centre-half in the air. He did not bring it off against Foulkes, and the duel between these two was a fascinating side-fight of the match.
When centres did get by Foulkes, Manning was more often than not, there to take them. Particularly in the first half he was master in the air in his own goal-area, demonstrating quite clearly that it was of little use for the Bedford wingers to cut their corners or centres too close in.
Bedford have a two handed attack, for, playing alongside Duquemin at inside right, Andy Easton is the club’s top goal-scorer. In this game, with Foulkes such a dominating figure in the middle it was more important that Easton should be penetrating. This was not the case, for Neilson well-night blotted him out of the game with his intelligent anticipation and quick-off-the-mark tackling.
At forward, Lynn met much about the same reception as their own defenders were meting out to the Bedford attack. The wingmen were generally well held by Smith and Thompson and Craig kept a tight hold on Dixon. Devlin got little change out of Brittain, who vied with Neilson for the honour of being the best wing-half afield.
As for the goals, they all came in the second half. First blood went to Lynn when Devlin, giving Brittain the slip for once, put the ball in to LUKE who dived to head home.
Bedford’s equaliser mid-way through the half was hotly disputed. The Lynn goal had undergone a number of narrow escapes as Bedford battled hard to save a point and more than once the ball was scrambled away, turned just round or over the woodwork, or sailed just wide.
Then there came another scramble right in front of goal. Manning stopped a shot, Foulkes blocked another and Clugson put his foot out to turn the ball goalwards. Manning, who had been out of distance turned and fell on the ball just over the line.
The Lynn players protested loudly that the ball had not in fact crossed the line, but the referee paid no heed to their protests and pointed firmly to the middle.
Bedford now had their tails right up and put everything into attack, but it was not until two minutes from the end that they snatched victory. Newman, who had not had a good game against a very determined Lay, got away on the right. He beat both Neilson and Lay and flashed a long centre right across the goal; CLUGSON ducked to let the ball go by to Robinson and then bobbed up again just in time to flick Robinson’s return pass into the net.
So Bedford avenged their defeat at Lynn and, on the showing of both games, it is perhaps fairest that the two sides meeting for the first season in the Southern League, should finish honours even.
Bedford: Hawkswort;Smith, Thompson; Brittain, Craig, Murray; Newman, Easton, Duquemin, Clugston, Robinson.
Lynn: Manning; Bannister, Lay; Tennant, Foulkes, Neilson; Baxter, Luke, Dixon, Devlin, Hunter.
Referee: Mr M. R. Pretty (London). Gate: 4,900