Two first half goals from Rugby Town proved to be too much for Bedford on Saturday as the Eagles slumped to a 3-0 defeat against their Warwickshire opponents.
The visitors had the edge from the start, but Bedford carved out the first chance when Jordan Davis’ square ball into the area was venomously hit first time by Tom Liversedge. The shot dipped, but just a tad too late to become the opening goal.
With the suspensions of Jeff Woodward and Greg Ling making Craig Adams’ life hard for team selection, Ross Oulton played just 17 minutes before he was substituted after picking up a knee injury.
The opening goal eventually went to Richard Gregory, who reacted quickest, in the 23rd minute, when Sam Youngs’ 20-yarder could only be parried by Danzelle St Louis-Hamilton. Gregory slotted the rebound into the net with the Bedford ‘keeper still trying to scramble across.
Four minutes on, a big shout for a penalty came from the Bedford players and most of the supporters after a Rugby defender deflected a Davis shot off for a corner with what looked like a hand. Nonplussed, the referee, Mr Holmes, waved away all claims to deduce a corner.
Bedford were getting into position, but accuracy was the problem. Davis floated in a free kick, but Russell Bull could only head over the bar.
Just after the half hour, Will Grocutt’s quickly taken free kick took the defence unawares, and only a point-blank save from St Louis-Hamilton denied Gregory another goal.
Unfortunately for Bedford, this was to come in the 37th minute. Former Eagle, Lewis McBride crossed in from the right byline to Gregory, who must have thought Christmas was here again with the amount of space he was given in the area. The centre forward controlled the ball, and shot before any Bedford defender could react. The shot was scuffed, but was enough to beat St Louis-Hamilton as it squeezed into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Just before the half time whistle, Davis, again providing the pass, stuck another free kick into the area. This time, Josh McGoldrick headed narrowly over the bar.
A couple of minutes inside the second half, St Louis-Hamilton pushed a Gregory shot away, before Callum Lewis cleared.
Davis was running everywhere, and his ‘dead ball’ skills were helping a lot. Most of the crosses into the area were from Davis, and the latest one, just before the hour, was a clever corner that was played to the edge of the area. The crowd of players in the area couldn’t react to the pass, but McGoldrick came racing into the area to hit a sweet first time shot, that fizzed just past the post. Unfortunately for Bedford, this was going to be one of those days.
Mr Holmes gave his yellow card a good airing, waving it about a total of eight times; four going to each side. From Ollie Wilkinson’s 4th minute caution for a soft foul, to Seb Lake-Gaskin’s 88th minute booking for something or other. Bull stumbled in the area, and much to his amazement was booked for simulation, and others, expressing their disappointment with the referee vocally, also found their name written on the card.
from the 83rd minute, there was no way back for the Eagles when Seb Lake-Gaskin ended a good solo effort with a shot across goal, from left to right, that flew into the top right hand corner of the net. 3-0 to Rugby, although the scoreline flattered the visitors a little bit.
The main difference was finishing.
It was no surprise that seven minutes was added as stoppage time, and another point-blank save from St Louis-Hamilton denied Lewis Rankin five minutes in.
Win, lose or draw, Bedford seem to be stuck in 18th position at the moment. Despite the lowly position, the club are 13 points away from any relegation problems.
Bedford are back in action at the Eyrie on Saturday, January 24, when Hanwell Town visit. On Tuesday, January 27, Bedford entertain Premier Division Biggleswade Town in the Beds Senior Cup quarter final.
Eagles: Danzelle St Louis-Hamilton, Paul Cooper, Josh McGoldrick, Stuart Smeathers, Ross Oulton (Callum Lewis 17), Ollie Wilkinson [c], Jordan Davis, Josh Winters (Sam Macrae ht), Tom Liversedge, Russell Bull, Rob Parker (Will Summerfield 58).
Subs not used: Joe Hopewell, Kerran Birch.
Valley: Richard Morris, Will Grocott, Robbie Banks [c](Lewis Rankin 58), Mason Rowley, Alex Gudger, Robbie Burns (Seb Lake-Gaskin 66), Lewis McBride, Richard Blythe, Richard Gregory (Mitch Piggon 78), Justin Marsden, Sam Youngs.
Subs not used: Kyle Bishop, Dan Pritchard.
Referee: Mr M Holmes.
Assistants: Mr C Darling & Mr P Gregory.