Evo-Stik Southern League, Premier Division: Bedford Town 0 Arlesey Town 0
The first game in a double header between the Bedford Town and Arlesey Town ended in a goalless draw at the Eyrie in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division on Saturday, writes Roger Worsley.
There was just one change to the Eagles’ line-up that were beaten 3-0 at Kettering Town on Wednesday, with new dual-registration signing from Brackley Town, Josh Green, slotting into the centre of defence to partner Jamie Grimes.
Will Green - substituted with an ankle injury in the Kettering game - passed a late fitness test to join Chris Pitharas in attack.
The Arlesey side had a familiar look about it with last season’s top scorers, Drew Roberts and James Hatch, returning to the Eyrie for the first time since leaving Bedford in the close season.
Also present were former favourites Chris Dillon and Ben Farrell, with the quartet boasting 140 goals between them during their time at the Eyrie.
However, it was not to be a day for the strikers as both sides created few chances and with both keepers were in fine form.
Ian Brown saved with his knees after a quarter of an hour when a cross cannoned off Jemal Johnson and Steve Kinniburgh and hit the Bedford guardian.
A minute later Brown knew exactly where he was going and what he was doing when he saved a Roberts free-kick low to his right.
Eugene Libertucci’s 25-yarder went wide of the right hand post just after the half hour and five minutes later a snap-shot from Roberts was saved by Brown.
And just before half time Chris Pitharas’ shot from the edge of the area took a big deflection off an Arlesey player before hitting the post, allowing the recovering Nathan Abbey in the visiting goal to punch the ball to safety.
Despite passing a fitness test before the game, Will Green was substituted at half time to make way for Jamaine Ivy.
The second half followed the same lines as its predecessor. Kinniburgh’s header following a corner was saved on the line by Abbey, and just before the hour Mark Bell’s cross went from the right hand corner of the area went very close to goal and Abbey had to re-align his footing to catch the ball.
After playing on a very heavy pitch in midweek, the exertions seemed to catch up with the Bedford players.
A goalmouth scramble in the 83rd minute ended when Shane Blackett’s muscled effort went wide and, in the closing minutes, Brown saved from Danny Gordon after the defender had crept behind the Bedford defence to receive a free-kick.
Part two of the double header is on Tuesday evening when the sides battle it out again at the Eyrie, this time in the third round of the Red Insure League Cup, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.
Bedford won the League Cup for the only time in 1981 with a young Nick Platnauer in the side and were runners-up in 2005.
Eagles: Ian Brown (c), Ollie Wilkinson, Steve Kinniburgh, Josh Beech, Josh Green, Jamie Grimes, Michael Built, Eugene Libertucci (Paul Cooper 61), Will Green (Jamaine Ivy 46), Chris Pitharas, Mark Bell. Substitutes not used: Seb Simpson, Tom Guiney, Nick Kingston.
Blues: Nathan Abbey (c), Cameron Mawer, Josh Cook, Shane Blackett, Danny Gordon, Ben Farrell, Jemal Johnson, James Hatch, Chris Dillon (Aston Goss 76), Drew Roberts (Chris Marsh 76), David Galbraith (Jeanmal Prosper 85). Substitutes not used: Ryan Frater, Nick Bussey.
Star Eagle: Jamie Grimes.