Thursday 12 October 2023

Ground #394 - The New Eyrie

Date: 3rd September 2023
Location: Bedford, Bedfordshire
Ground: The New Eyrie

My nineteenth new ground of 2023 was on Sunday 3rd September at The New Eyrie in Bedford, Bedfordshire. The game was Biggleswade vs. Maldon & Tiptree in F.A. Cup 1st Round Qualifying.

The New Eyrie is on the south-west outskirts of Bedford - there are two bordering football grounds on a small parcel of land between the A421 and A603. The New Eyrie sits to the north-east of Real Bedford's McMullen Park and to the south-west of an industrial site. The venue is 3 miles south-east of Bedford St John's railway station and 3.5 miles south-east of the better served Bedford railway station. It opened in 1993 to be a permanent home for the reformed club of Bedford Town with Biggleswade FC utilising the venue as a groundshare starting in 2021.

The eastern flank is the main side of the venue. It has a spacious new looking clubhouse including the Eagles bar and in front of the towards the pitch is an uncovered area with artificial grass and half a dozen picnic benches. Beyond this towards the southern end are toilets, a little club shop and entrance turnstiles. This side also has a pair of all-seater stands bolted together. The first of these has seven supporting beams and an announcer box while the second, smaller stand has no supporting beams. Heading towards the northern end is uncovered standing and a food outlet.

The opposite side of the venue is mostly uncovered standing up against the trees but does have a small covered stand in the middle with the dugouts directly in front. The southern end has a covered 4-level metal terrace stand for the whole length of this end whilst the northern end has a smaller stand positioned directly behind the goal but is otherwise made up of uncovered standing.

The game was a F.A. Cup 1st Round Qualifying tie between Southern League Division One Central side Biggleswade and Isthmian League Division One North side Maldon & Tiptree. Biggleswade went into the game mid-table in their league whilst Maldon had just parted company with manager Peter Taylor after a winless start to the season. The game ended up being an absolute rout and was one-way traffic for nearly the whole tie. It took barely five minutes for Biggleswade to score, although it was down to Maldon striker Toluwani Ayoola who sliced a corner in off the the post and into the back of his own net. On the quarter-hour mark the hosts grabbed a second when Pemi Adeoju scored after a defensive error. More chances came throughout the half with Alex Marsh heading a Daniel Bond cross wide and Rio Martucci seeing a shot deflected just wide. Biggleswade did go into the interval three goals to the good with Aderoju scoring his second after a cross from the right found him in acres of space and able to coolly slot home. The second half was even more dominant than the first. In the 53rd minute Aderoju wrapped up his hat-track with a deflected effort from 12 yards. He was then able to grab his fourth of the afternoon when dispossessing Maldon keeper Tom Middlehurst from a long punt up field. The Biggleswade man had a covering defender for company but managed to calmly knock the ball into the net. Five became six after an hour with Lawrie Marsh getting on the scoresheet this time, sneaking in behind the defence and stroking past Middlehurst. With the tie won Biggleswade eased off the gas and took off four-goal man Aderoju. However, scoring resumed again towards the end with a quick-fire double by Rio Martucci to wrack up goals seven and eight. The first was a header from six yards and the second picking up on more defensive errors from Maldon when Middlehurst's short ball from the back was intercepted. There was almost time for a ninth when Alex Marsh snuck his way into the farside of the area but he tried to be too smart rounding the keeper and saw his shot blocked. Fortunately for Maldon they were spared further punishment as the referee sound the full-time whistle ending the Essex clubs 2023/24 F.A. Cup campaign in humiliation.

Result: Biggleswade 8-0 Maldon & Tiptree
Competition: F.A. Cup
Attendance: 148

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