Eagles and Seagulls battle out FA Trophy stalemate to set up replay

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Bedford’s FA Trophy campaign continues with a reply tonight after the Eagles earned a credible 0-0 draw against Vanarama Conference South side Weston-super-Mare at the Eyrie on Saturday.

With Christmas on the horizon, the game will best be remembered for the Scrooge-like qualities of both defences, as the sides ground out a goal-less stalemate.

Although the game was never dull, as usually befits a 0-0 draw, chances were few.

The Bedford defence had to be alert from the start, as the step 2 visitors came looking for an early goal.

Garry Malone denied former Spanish second division player Alec Fiddes, as the midfielder twisted his way into the area ready to unleash a shot. When it came, Malone was diving full stretch to his right to palm the ball away.

The Eagles came very close to breaking the deadlock in the 15th minute. From a free-kick, just inside the Weston half, the ball looked to have been played too long.

Somehow, Jeff Woodward, got enough height to his jump, plus enough angle with his head to loop a header goalwards.

From the impossible header, Weston keeper Luke Purnell had to backtrack to tip the ball over the bar at the last moment.

The drama kept going for Purnell, as he fumbled and dropped Greg Ling’s corner, on the near post. Luckily for the visitors, there was no player in a blue shirt near enough to capitalise and stab the ball into the net, and Purnell gratefully collected his mistake.

Malone denied Fiddes again soon afterwards, after the tricky number 7 made light work of taking the ball half the length of the pitch. The eventual low shot was pushed round the post by the fingertips of the diving Bedford keeper.

A minute before the break, Purnell punched a corner away, allowing Stuart Smeathers, lurking on the edge of the box, to return the ball with a stinging half volley.

The ball was blocked by former Spurs and Bristol City player Clayton Fortune.

Bedford kept up the pressure, and the ball was played right to left via a series of passes, with Joe Hopewell firing in a shot that fizzed the wrong side of the left hand post.

A minute into first half stoppage time, Dayle Grubb placed a free-kick round the Bedford wall and off.

The second half was even, but neither side could comfortably find an opening.

Just past the hour, Greg Ling played a 1-2 with Rob Parker on the left hand corner of the area, but Ling saw his eventual shot deflected off for a corner.

Grubb then ran right to left of the pitch before coming inside to a more central area, to find a shooting opportunity. When it came, his low shot went wide of the left hand post.

A little later Grubb shot wide of the mark when Malone made his only mistake of the day with a poor clearance. It wasn’t a clear cut chance, but the striker should have at least hit the target.

The draw means that Bedford have a tricky journey into Somerset for the replay tonight.

Eagles: Garry Malone, Paul Cooper, Joe Hopewell (Callum Lewis 65), Stuart Smeathers, Jeff Woodward, Ollie Wilkinson [c], Josh McGoldrick, Rob Parker, Tom Liversedge, Josh Winters (Tommy Glasscoe 73), Greg Ling (Tom Rawlings 90).

Sub not used: Scott Cross.

Seagulls: Luke Purnell, Pierce Mitchell, Jake Llewellyn, Jacob Cane, Tom Jordan [c], Clayton Fortune, Alec Fiddes, Jake Mawford (Aaron Brown 72), Jake Harris (Syd Camper 82), Dayle Grubb, Joe McLennan (Bradley Ash 82).

Subs not used: Sam Teale, Ryan Bath.

Referee: Mr. J Hillier.

Assistants: Mr. M Wetherall & Mr. T Hancock.

Attendance: 287.