UEA I’s slipped to a disappointing 1-0 conference cup defeat at home to Bedford III on a grim Wednesday afternoon at Colney Lane.
The all-important goal arrived in the 73rd minute when the ball fell to Bedford’s number 7 on the edge of the 18-yard-box whose powerful drive sent the net rippling.
UEA tried manfully to haul themselves back into the game but only found a real threat in the latter stages with a flurry of well-placed crosses from skipper Scott and Taylor Hasting’s spirited, but futile, late bursts into the box.
This result is a deep disappointment. UEA had entered the game on a great run of league form. Despite sitting joint top of the BUCS Midlands 2B Football league with 7 points from the last 3 games, they never found their game against Bedford, a team two divisions below them in the league.
It was enthusiasm and commitment rather than quality that triumphed on the day. UEA’s coach conceded, “You could see they wanted it more than us and they got their reward. Now we’re out the cup. With big matches against [joint league leaders] Coventry and Bedford I’s coming up there is no time to linger. We need to make sure we stick together, train harder and react. Nobody in this University is good enough to just turn up.”
A downcast captain reinforced these sentiments by blasting the performance, “I was disappointed – we were sluggish and didn’t look like we wanted to play. We didn’t get started and it let us down from the off. It was like having a mess around in the park with mates. We can coast through doing what we’re doing or we can push on. We have good players and it’s just not good enough.”
“The next three games are going to decide our season,” he said with a determined finality, “If we go out there half-hearted like today our season is going to be over by Christmas.”
The starting line-up saw a few alterations from previous game. Dave Semore was out with a virus meanwhile the return of commanding centre-half, Sam Harle, from injury was an initial boost for UEA but he was forced off in the second half by a recurrence of his ankle injury.
The game started scrappily with a competitive tough tackling spirit and not much rhythm. Both sides found it difficult to break through with several speculative shots being palmed away easily by the keepers.
The first flash point of the game came to UEA when a long ball was knocked to leggy forward, Luke Blackwell, who left the Bedford defense for dead only to smash the ball into the keeper. However, the impetus soon burnt out and in retrospect this was UEA’s best chance of the match. The fact that UEA’s two wingers only managed to put in one cross in the opening 45 minutes tells its own story.
As the sun came out Bedford III seemed to take heart and their confidence grew. They hit UEA on the counter, before taking over completely, the wily number 8 pulling the strings in midfield. It was only thanks to some appalling finishing from their striker, blasting several clear-cut chances over the crossbar, that the score remained level.
UEA came out for the second half knowing they had to improve if they were going to get anything from this game. This provided a catalyst for brief period where UEA’s midfield set up camp inside the Bedford half forcing several corners and significant pressure but the movement in the box lacked sufficient endeavor to capitalise.
Bedford were dangerous on the break and it was at this moment that they took a deserved lead. A minute later, the coach introduced substitutes with the looming prospect of an embarrassing scalp. S. Pachnis, provided some fresh legs as UEA frantically chased the game but never mustered the collective urgency to inflict real damage.
The visitors sacrificed their control to sit back and defended their lead. There were no shortage of opportunities as Blackwell flashed several headers across goal, followed by a neat swivel-shot by Richards in the box, a scuffed chip from number 14 and a desperate injury-time rampage from Hastings in midfield that marked the crucial efforts.
Time ran out for UEA, sending them crashing out of the Midlands Conference cup on a day to forget for East Anglia’s finest.