Bedford turn up the heat but Daly remains ice cool


The hottest day this year greeted the opening of the Evostik Southern League Premier season as Brakes twice fought back to earn a point at Bedford Town, writes Paul Edwards.

The New Eyrie has always been a happy hunting ground in past seasons but with a new manager in Nicky Platnauer and several fresh faces, the hosts were a different proposition, and will probably feel aggrieved they did not hold out for all three points.

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Opening at pace, they drove at the Brakes back line and debutant keeper Kevin Sawyer clung on to the ball after Nick Beasant had stabbed a low cross goalwards.

Dean Perrow, who had trained on Thursday with no reaction to the injury picked up against Kidderminster, was forced off after just 13 minutes to be replaced by Tom Berwick.

Liam Daly stretched to head a corner wide at the far post before Dan Crowie appeared to use his arm to divert a ball back to keeper Ian Brown. But, with the referee unsighted, play continued.

Berwick showed superb technique to volley a dropping ball across goal, while Lee Chilton’s low free-kick was well held by Brown.

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The Eagles moved in front as half-time approached courtesy of a quick break involving Gareth Price and Mark Bell.

Bell’s initial shot was kept out by Sawyer but the ball quickly rebounded towards goal where it hit the post and went in off the unfortunate James Mace.

The assistant on the near side immediately raised his flag, believing the ball had come off a Bedford player last but the referee was adamant that Mace got the final touch and the goal stood.

Brakes needed to hit back early in the second half and they took just two minutes to restore parity.

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Berwick picked up possession on the edge of the Bedford penalty area and pushed the ball past a defender before lashing in a powerful low drive that flashed past Brown and into the corner of the net.

The game was almost turned on its head in the next attack, a neat back-heel from Berwick playing Michael Tuohy in just outside the six-yard box. Tuohy tried to place his shot around keeper Brown, but was denied by a fine stop.

Brakes were rocked back on their heels again when the hosts regained the advantage in the 72nd minute, Nick Beasant left totally unmarked to emphatically sidefoot home a cross from the right.

Substitute Richard Batchelor was inches from connecting with Matt Dodd’s deep cross but Brakes looked as though they were going to slip to defeat until the intervention of substitute James Husband.

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Husband’s trickery brought about a foul and Daly rammed home the resultant free-kick with the aid of a wicked deflection.

Bedford Town: Ian Brown, Ollie Wilkinson, Steve Kinniburgh, Michael Built, Josh Beech, Dan Crowie, Mark Bell, Callum Lewis, Nick Beasant (Jermaine Ivy, 75), Gareth Price (Greg Ling, 78), Ashley Fuller (Eugene Libertucci, 87). Subs not used: Seb Simpson, Paul Cooper.

Leamington: Kevin Sawyer, James Mace, Michael Tuohy, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Liam Daly, Matt Dodd, Craig Owen, Alex Taylor (Richard Batchelor, 73), Dean Perrow (Tom Berwick, 13), Lee Chilton (James Husband, 85). Subs not used: Sam Adkins, Leigh Phillips.