Stow 3-2 Biggleswade Town
Stow made it eight wins from nine, and moved to within two points of the play-off places with a hard-fought win against Biggleswade Town.
There was rotation in the Stow back line, with striker Jordan Watson coming in at right back, and Jack Green moving to left back. There was also a return for Te Wihongi at centre back. George Ironton also started his first game on the comeback from injury, replacing Kieran Turner in midfield.
Stow were keen to get off to a good start and not have a repeat of Saturday’s game when they conceded inside three minutes. Biggleswade did force an early shot on goal, but Jack Green was there to block the effort on the edge of the box.
Despite playing at the back, Watson’s goalscoring instincts were in full effect, as he nipped in front of Biggleswade keeper Harry Smart to poke home Bilal Sayoud’s perfectly-delivered free kick after just five minutes.
Stow were in full control of the game, and Sayoud’s quick feet saw him beat two Biggleswade inside the box, but his cross was intercepted by Smart. At the other end, the visitors were being limited to shots from distance; Max Hercules going closest with a superb effort which was equalled by Brad Robinson in the Stow goal.
Carl Mensah went close for Stow on 32 minutes, with a ferocious, dipping volley from the edge of the box which would have won any goal of the season competition, if it had just been a foot or so lower. But Stow’s pressure told five minutes later when Duncan Culley forced Daniel Brathwaite into an uncharacteristic mistake at the back, losing the ball in the path of Callum Ibe who raced through from halfway and calmly slotted home past Smart.
Biggleswade had spent the first half trying to play out from the back, and had been punished by a clinical Stow side. In the second half, they went far more direct and were rewarded on 54 minutes when a free kick from Charlie Smith was deflected by the Stow wall past the stranded Robinson.
The visitors were really starting to push for the equaliser, but Stow were able to keep them at bay, and when Fabion Simms made it 3-1 with 75 minutes played, it looked like the game was done. The goal was a thing of beauty; Demaray Anyadike turning the Biggleswade right back inside and out before cutting back to Culley who twisted and turned in the box, eventually picking out Simms who drove in an unstoppable effort into the top right-hand corner from the edge of the box.
But again Biggleswade refused to lie down, and on 84 minutes Brathwaite finished from close range after Stow failed to deal with a deep free kick. The free kick was given away by Jack Green who received a second yellow card for a push, giving away the foul.
From here it was proper backs-to-the-wall stuff from Stow. Biggleswade threw everything they had in the Stow box winning free kick after free kick around the area. Surprisingly though, they seemed more content in berating the referee than taking their set pieces, wasting their own time.
Three minutes into injury time Stow finally managed to get the ball upfield, and Sayoud, Anyadike and Jared Small combined to brilliantly keep the ball in the Biggleswade corner for the final three minutes of six added on.
After the full-time whistle had gone, Biggleswade’s Jake Bunyan was shown a straight red card for foul and abusive language.
At times, Stow had been unplayable, but will look to tighten things up at the back again, having conceded four goals in two matches. Two points is the closest Stow have been to the play-offs since the opening day of the season when they were briefly second, after a 3-0 win at Welwyn Garden City.
Photo: Chris Evans