Better from St Neots but final outcome is the same as FA Trophy ends at Bedford

Charlie Johnson was thrown up front late on as St Neots Town pushed for an equaliser at Bedford Town in the FA Trophy.

Charlie Johnson was thrown up front late on as St Neots Town pushed for an equaliser at Bedford Town in the FA Trophy. - Credit: KARYN HADDON

St Neots Town bowed out of the FA Trophy at the first hurdle with a deja-vu moment at Bedford Town.

They had already lost to the same opponents five weeks earlier in the FA Cup and the Eagles clinched passage with a 1-0 success.

However, their overall performance on this occasion was very much better. In fact, given the balance of play over 90 minutes, they can consider themselves unlucky not to have taken the match at least to a penalty shoot-out, dominating possession late in the game but unable to find an equalising goal.

Manager Pete Gill had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting line-up from that which had won 6-2 at home to Barton Rovers in midweek and he will have been pleased with the performance but disappointed with the result.

Bedford’s brisk start seemed to catch the visitors by surprise with Craig Mackail-Smith bringing an important save from Louis Chadwick at the expense of a corner after 50 seconds.

After four minutes they were in front, former Peterborough United striker Rene Howe jumping on a momentary lapse in defensive concentration to convert a Will Summerfield cross.

St Neots replied with skipper Lee Watkins outpacing the home defence to feed Joe Rider, his shot deflected for a corner, followed by Charlie Johnson getting in a header that Alex Street saved well.

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Bedford did clip the crossbar twice, Howe and Josh Page the unlucky players, but the half ended with Street saving at the feet of Rider.

Neo Richard-Noel shot wide for Saints having an earlier effort saved by Street and Bedford tried to pep up their efforts by utilising all three permitted substitutes.

One of those, Danny Setchell, shot over the bar after being released by a Zac Brown cross but St Neots dominated possession in the last 10 minutes.

However, the experienced Bedford side pulled players back to crowd out St Neots’ best efforts and they were unable to create anything seriously threatening, ever after pushing defender Johnson up to join the attack.

St Neots Town: Chadwick, Steel, Heal (Smith 80), Barker, Johnson, Marfo, Cowling, Watkins, Richard-Noel (Sutton 69), Rider, Amu.

Subs (not used): Thomas, Gomes, Anthony.

Bedford Town: Street, Keane, Brown, McAuley (Steele 70), Sanders, Alban-Jones, Richardson, Howe, Page (Setchell 61), Summerfield, Mackail-Smith (Tomlinson 78)

Subs (not used): Duffy, Donnelly, Miccio.

Goal: Howe 4

Booked: Alban-Jones 69, Steele 83

HT: Bedford Town 1 St Neots Town 0

Referee: Charles Martland (Swiss Cottage, London)

Attendance: 324