Norris on the mark as Eagles strike late to sink Barton

Joel Norris in action for Bedford Town

Joel Norris in action for Bedford Town

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A late goal from striker Joel Norris secured the points for Bedford Town as they beat Barton Rovers 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Although there were displays of good football, the icing on the cake was the goal that sealed the points for the Eagles.

Joel Norris was the match-winner for Bedford Town

Joel Norris was the match-winner for Bedford Town

As with previous games, selection of the side by Eagles boss Dan Kennoy was hampered by injuries.

Although he played in midweek, Tyler Reading was clearly not ready to return, and his place was taken by Grant Beckwith. Dan Crowie was also out (hamstring), and this meant that Kyle Lincoln moved into the centre of defence. Tommy Hull was back in the squad, and was put on the subs bench.

Barton took the game to Bedford early on, but there was no real danger in attack.

Just before the half hour mark Joel Norris’ free-kick, on the edge of the area, beat the wall but not Kyle Forster.

A couple of minutes later a piece of good fortune with the bounce of the ball nearly resulted in the opening goal.

A long free-kick entered the Bedford area, but didn’t bounce into the arms of the waiting Beckwith, as expected – instead, it held up and allowed Jordan Davis to run onto it.

The ex-Eagle beat Beckwith to the ball with a header, and saw it hit the base of the left hand post before Kyle Lincoln cleared.

This was Barton’s best period of the game. A throw then went to Connor Vincent, and his low shot forced a good save off Beckwith.

The last action of the half came in stoppage time, when Forster saved Lincoln’s effort.

Hull was brought on for the second half, and the difference in tactics showed, especially with his vision. Bedford didn’t dominate, but the game began to sway in their favour.

With 53 minutes gone, Christian Lester fed Joel Mason, and despite the obvious holding back by a Barton defender, the midfielder played the ball to the edge of the area to Norris, whose half volley narrowly cleared the bar.

A minute later the visitors had a go, and Ryan Da’Silva put the ball wide from the left hand corner of the area.

Just after the hour, Matt Clifford’s free-kick found Mason, but he couldn’t keep his header below the bar.

Man of the match Dylan Gittens then bypassed two defenders on the left before playing the ball to the edge of the area to Norris, but the turn and shot from the attacker took a deflection.

Bedford’s reward came with three minutes of normal time remaining, and it was a goal worthy of winning any match.

Lincoln’s short corner found Stefan Powell, who in turn played it into the area to Hull. Instead of turning and playing the ball further into the danger area, Hull played it back to Lincoln, whose telling pass across goal was turned in by Norris, who had evaded the Barton defence to steal in and get the final touch.

Bedford kept Barton at bay for the rest of the game, including the extra five minutes added at the end by referee.

The win takes the Eagles up into fourth place in the table, just two points behind league leaders Northwood.

Bedford take a break from league action on Saturday, as the side host United Counties Division 1 side Thrapston Town in the Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round, 3pm kick-off.

Barring cup replays, on Bank Holiday Monday Bedford take the short trip to Wellingborough to face AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the Evo-Stik Southern League Central Division.

Eagles: Grant Beckwith, Jack Jones, Matt Clifford, James Peters (Stefan Powell 79), Peter Gatti, Kyle Lincoln, Joel Mason [c], Christian Lester, Josh Bamford (Tommy Hull ht), Joel Norris, Dylan Gittens (Marcus Campbell 90+1).

Subs not used: Anthony Ottaway, Luke Rowland.

Rovers: Kyle Forster, James Bishop, Alex Condon, David Longe-King, Paul Andrews [c], Joe Reynolds, Jordan Davis (Sam Holmes 80), Kevin Kilroy, Ryan Da’Silva, Connor Vincent (Jack Keating 88), Elliot Bailey (Billy Lannon 57).

Subs not used: James Sage, Claudio Dias.

Referee: Mr T Hancock.

Assistants: Mr V Byatt & Mr D Johnston.

Attendance: 273.