Leighton Buzzard’s already disappointing season would end with one final defeat, and it come in the form of a loss in the Bedfordshire Cup Final against Bedford Athletic.
Having already suffered relegation from Midlands 1 East, Buzzard had the chance to end the campaign with some silverware.
But despite their opportunities to win what was an entertaining affair under the floodlights at Wrights Meadow, Bedford were far more clinical, and would run out 27-17 winners.
Despite the disappointment of the season though, spirits remain high at the club, with a far more promising second half since Christmas, led by head coach Tom Mowbray, who has a young squad to work with ahead of next season’s campaign at level seven.
Thursday’s cup final kicked off in warm conditions for an April eve, in front of a crowd of nearly 150. Having won the toss, Leighton opted to play up the hill in the first half.
Straight away, Buzzards appeared focused, playing the game at good tempo and retaining possession through numerous phases.However, in a portent of what was to come, the visitors finally won possession from a lineout deep in their own half and broke away to score their first try. After four minutes Buzzards trailed 7-0.
Buzzards hit back quickly. Regaining possession through a number of phases the ball was spread wide to winger Raef Braithwaite, who chipped ahead and then used his speed to regain the ball and touch down. The conversion was missed, leaving the score 7-5.
Fifteen minutes into the game, Buzzards went down to 14 men when Jon Henkes was shown a yellow card following an altercation. Beds Ath kicked the penalty to the corner and drove over for their second try.
Worse was to come eight minutes later, when, following a good break by their left winger, the ball was swiftly transferred for a try under the posts. With one of these tries converted, Leighton trailed 19-5.
Again Buzzards responded, and with Jon Henkes now back on following his ten minute suspension, the scrum looked solid and was providing good ball.
This possession was well used by Mike Robert, who put a delicate grubber kick behind the Beds Ath defence for Harri Sayer to regather and score. James Brett converted to cut the deficit to 19-12, with ten minutes of the half to go.
Beds Ath added a penalty with the last kick of the half to make the score 22-12 at the break.
Now with the benefit of the slope and a renewed determination, Buzzards started the half well. In fact it would be 20 minutes before the visitors could get out of their half, but it was Leighton’s inability to make the most of this pressure that would ultimately cost them.
Raef Braithwaite did touch down after ten minutes following an excellent break by Ash Walsh but the touch judge ruled a forward pass.
Five minutes later Eddie Wiggins spotted a gap in the defence after Mike Robert had been tackled and crossed unopposed. Inexplicably, the conversion from almost in front of the posts was missed to leave Buzzards 22-17 down.
Minutes later Leighton had a golden chance to draw level but the final pass was dropped on the right wing.
Finally Beds Ath made it into Buzzard territory. There was a certain inevitability and also a credit to their clinical finishing that they scored a try from their first attack of the half, driving over following a lineout. With the conversion missed, Buzzards trailed by ten points with 15 minutes left .
Back came Buzzards, again having most of the territory. A third overlap opportunity was missed, when, after a fine break by Eddie Wiggins, he was unable to make the scoring pass to the supporting Dami Adebayo.
Try as Leighton did there were no further additions to the score, leaving Bedford Athletic as Bedfordshire Cup winners 27-17.