Opening day curse strikes again.
Eagles lose to Uxbridge
Two lapses in defence, a fluke goal, and a missed penalty all combined to give the Eagles a miserable afternoon in Middlesex on Saturday, and some may say that the curse of the opening game of the season struck again, after Bedford lost 3-1 at a supposed troubled Uxbridge.
The home side - with four very late signings - had the best of the opening minutes, with Anthony Thomas coming close with a header that was cleared off the line by Jemale McKenzie-Lowe. The free kick that preceded it fooled Adam Harpur into moving off his line to try and punch the ball away, but gave the Uxbridge striker a free head on goal.
Bedford started to take hold of the match, and until the half time whistle, had a lot of possession.
Lee Roache danced his way into the area, squaring the ball to Ryan Auger when his way to goal was barred by a tight defence. Auger’s low, hard cross back into the danger zone epitomised the lack of a final touch, as the defence got to the ball before any Eagles player could, and cleared.
Keeping up the pressure, Auger found Roache, who, with just Paul McCarthy in the Uxbridge goal to beat, was denied by the outstretched arm of the ‘keeper when he finally shot. All the while during the move the Uxbridge defence tried in vain to claim a nonexistent offside.
McCarthy kept his side in the game with a save from an Auger free kick that evaded the wall, and the home side were getting rattled, earning two of their players their names in the referee’s book.
A rare counter for the home side tested Adam Harpur on the half hour, as Cole Brown came in off the left hand corner of the area to shoot, forcing a fine one handed save off the underused Harpur.
It looked as though Bedford would make the breakthrough in the 35th minute, when James Peters was upended by Kevin Warner just inside the area, and the referee pointed to the spot. Ronayne Marsh-Brown stepped up and blasted the ball over the bar from the 12 yards, and a glorious opportunity to open the scoring had passed by.
A couple of minutes later, with Bedford back on the attack, Auger and Roache combined to allow Bradley Woods-Garness a sight at goal from just inside the right corner of the area, but his low shot was saved.
The last action of the half was also wasted, as Woods-Garness fired a free kick over the bar from just outside the D.
The 2nd half followed the same pattern as the 1st. Uxbridge had a brief moment in front of the Bedford goal before Ronayne Marsh-Brown released Roache down the left. The striker tore into the area, and ended his run with a low shot that went narrowly wide of the mark.
The Eagles contingent briefly thought that the day would end well when Gradi Milenge looked to have fouled Brown in the Bedford area, but instead of awarding another penalty, the referee gave a foul to Bedford and presented Brown with a yellow card.
The 63rd minute came, and the Eagles were hit with a sucker punch, as Uxbridge took the lead. It was a soft goal to give, as the Bedford defenders looked to just watch the ball as Warner played it into the area. Joe Wright, however, took action and pounced on the ball to slot home from the edge of the goal area. A big setback for Bedford, but worse was to come two minutes later, as Brown’s run into the area elicited no response from the nearest players, and the winger was free to fire past Harpur.
Uxbridge had their tails up, and had the confidence to now take the game to Bedford. Harpur found himself in a one-on-one situation with Wright, and denied a third goal for the hosts.
With a counter of their own, in the 74th minute, Bedford pulled a goal back when Auger’s pin-point pass bypassed the defence to allow Roache to race onto it. Pulling away from the defence, Bedford’s top scorer last season, opened his new season’s account with a deft flick over the oncoming McCarthy.
The joy in the Bedford camp lasted barely 90 seconds, as a fluke (albeit spectacular) goal restored Uxbridge’s two-goal lead. Ben Peden, 25 yards out and on the right flank, played a deep cross into the area, and the flight of the ball was such, that it dropped into the goal at the top left hand corner, giving Harpur no chance whatsoever as he stretched his hand as far as he could to avoid the goal.
For the last 14 minutes plus the six minutes added, Uxbridge defended confidently and Bedford were frustrated inside the remaining time.
Eagles: 1 Adam Harpur, 2 Paul Cooper, 3 Ronayne Marsh-Brown (capt), 4 Jemale McKenzie-Lowe, 5 Gradi Milenge, 6 James Peters (14 Ben Sawyer 64), 7 Bradley Woods-Garness (12 Andrew Phillips 68), 8 Ryan Auger, 9 Lee Roache, 10 Devante Stanley, 11 Kyjuon Marsh-Brown (17 Kwai Marsh-Brown 86).
Subs not used: 15 Matt Clifford, 16 Ashton Grant.
Referee: Michael Chard
Assistants: Martyn Cannon & Fabien Le Houezec.
Star Man: Ryan Auger.