Eagles through to next round of FA Trophy after penalty shoot-out

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Biggleswade Town 0 (3)  Bedford Town 0 (5)
FIRST ROUND PROPER OF FA TROPHY

The Eagles continued their winning ways Tuesday in a hard-fought battle against Southern League Premier Division Central’s Biggleswade Town.

In their first competitive game since October, it took a penalty shoot-out to decide the difference between the teams, with new keeper Alex Street making a man of the match performance, during the match and in making a crucial penalty save.

Bedford’s sizable travelling contingent, who probably outnumbered the home fans, were faced with a cold and damp Yvette Brewer Stadium, but at least the fog had lifted to give a clear view of the game.

Gary Setchell named a strong starting line-up with Craig Machail-Smith and Rene Howe starting upfront, a midfield of Dan Walker, Rob Sinclair, Callum Donnelly and Danny Setchell and Ross Watson, Charley Sanders, Ollie Swain and Will Summerfield in defence.

The match itself was a niggly affair with chances for both sides, but defences held firm and quality saves from both keepers when the ball did get through. This was not a free-flowing game though, not helped by the nine bookings between the sides.

The second half was more entertaining than the first, the Eagles coming out first looking determined. They also edged the play, the visiting fans called for a penalty when Machail-Smith fell in the box, under a close challenge from a Waders defender after receiving a Walker cross.

Minutes later it was Summerfield who had a chance, his shot hitting the bar after Howe supplied after combining with Walker. Two minutes later it was Biggleswade’s turn to hit the woodwork.

Setchell then made his first change with the lively Connor Tomlinson replacing Machail-Smith upfront, his mazy runs giving the home defence an additional challenge.

Biggleswade had their purple match in the game fifteen minutes from time, laying siege to the visitor’s goal, Street being called into action an pulling off a couple of top-draw saves, first tipping a shot from Jon Giles over the bar and then palming away Trey Charles effort.

In the final minutes Bedford were again the ascendancy with Sanders and Walker both firing over. As the clock ticked to ninety minutes, and with an eye on the penalty shootout, Setchell brought on Tom Hitchcock and Drew Richardson.

With the stalemate not broken, the match went straight to penalties, a test of two keepers, both making their competitive debuts. Rene Howe stepped up first, his low shot was reached by Dan Wilks, but the ball bobbled over his outstretched hands and went over the line. Biggleswade’s first effort was not as successful, as the low shot to Streets right was stopped by a two handed save, that livened up the damp Bedford crowd.

That was to be the only miss, and the save that sends the Eagles into the second round to be played next Tuesday, December 15, when they will face National League North side Alfreton Town away, a result from that match would mean an exciting home tie against National League Kings Lynn, our Manager, Gary Setchell’s, and new keeper Alex Street, former club, the following Saturday.

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