FA Trophy first qualifying round: Bedford Town 4 Brightlingsea Regent 0
Four goals, one red card and an accomplished performance were the main ingredients as Bedford Town progressed in the FA Trophy on Saturday afternoon, beating Brightlingsea Regent 4-0 at the Eyrie.
The visitors showed their intention early on, introducing a long ball game, and it rattled the Bedford defence.
Russell Malton could have put Brightlingsea ahead during this period, but when free in the area, lobbed the ball over Garry Malone and the bar.
Two minutes later, however, in the 11th minute, Bedford took the lead when Jeff Woodward, with a surprising amount of space in the middle of the visiting area, headed in Joe Hopewell’s corner via the post.
Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Jake Gould diverted Tom Liversedge’s cross into his own net, in an attempt to clear.
Halfway through, Dan Burke’s through ball was passed back and forth between Liversedge and Josh Winters, resulting in Liversedge narrowly missing the target from 20 yards.
Another defining moment came just after the half hour, when the ingredient of a red card threatened to sour the Bedford recipe.
Burke, in picking up the ball to demonstrate to Mr Hart that he had won it fair and square in a tackle, was pushed in the back by Malton as he attempted to take the ball off the Bedford captain.
Unfortunately Burke reacted and after the dust had settled from the melee of remonstrating players, the referee reached into his pocket for the red card.
Bedford had 58 minutes of the game left to survive with just 10 men as Brightlingsea took advantage of this, and for the rest of the half, pressurised Bedford mercilessly.
Eagles boss Craig Adams made no tactical changes at half time though and instead of packing the defence, six minutes into the half Bedford went further in front with the best goal of the day.
From a clearance, Paul Cooper raced away from danger, pushed the ball inside to Sam Macrae, whose return was inch perfect for the defender who didn’t need to break stride to fire a perfectly angled drive past Andrew Plummer.
To try and rectify the situation, Brightlingsea manager, James Webster made three substitutions within four minutes of the goal.
This gave urgency to the visitors, but Bedford were soaking up any pressure as Malone came racing out to the edge of his area to deny Ben Newson.
Later on, Matt Cripps put a header wide, then Malone dived low to his left to deny Ricky Griggs’ edge of area shot.
With 20 minutes to go, Brightlingsea thought they had found a way back into the game when Newson headed a cross home. The joy was short-lived though as the goal was disallowed for offside.
Brightlingsea had their last real chance, with 12 minutes remaining. From a corner deep into the Bedford area, the ball was diverted against the woodwork and cleared by Stuart Smeathers.
The icing on the cake came with two minutes left on the clock as Greg Ling split the visiting defence with a pass to Claudio Dias. The substitute, with just Plummer to beat, calmly slotted the ball past the keeper for his first goal in a Bedford shirt, just two minutes after coming on.
Bedford are now at home to Chippenham in the next round on Saturday, November 22.
Eagles: Garry Malone, Paul Cooper, Joe Hopewell, Stuart Smeathers, Jeff Woodward, Ollie Wilkinson, Sam Macrae (Rob Parker 60), Dan Burke [c], Tom Liversedge (Claudio Dias 86), Josh Winters (Josh McGoldrick 76), Greg Ling.
Subs not used: Tom Rawlings, Scott Cross.
Regent: Andrew Plummer, Ricky Griggs, Jake Gould, Josh Gould [c], Jake Holman (Jordan Heath 52), Matt Cripps, Michael Brothers, Jake Turner (Charlie Durling 55), Russell Malton (Warren Joseph 52), Oliver Canfer, Ben Newson.
Subs not used: Dan Joyce, Sean Bartlett.
Referee: Mr R Hart.
Assistants: Mr V Byatt & Mr I Wilson