I noted in my original blog that The Eyrie was a very well maintained ground with polite and friendly staff. I am pleased to say that in the intervening 2 and bit years, nothing has changed. The ground is still very well maintained and all of the staff that I encountered were friendly and a credit to the club. A testament to the standard of the ground up-keep is the fact that this game went ahead. I think the Eyrie drains very well but, even so, with the amount of rainfall we have had and taking into account that a number of games in the vicinity were called off, the club did a magnificent job to get the surface playable.
The ground itself is a fine example of a non-league stadium. In fact, in my eyes, it is one of the best I have encountered. There are covered areas on all 4 sides of the pitch. Covered standing areas behind both goals, a covered standing area behind the dugouts and, on the car park side of the ground, two covered seating areas. There are two snack bars available, one of the car park side next to the main stand and clubhouse and one in the far corner of the ground on the opposite side. This is quite a rarity these days but, I am sure, is something welcomed by supporters. The down side to maintaining these two snack bars, and the only small complaint I would have about The Eyrie, is the cost of a cup of tea which is higher than any other ground that I have come across. Still, I suppose this is a small price to pay for not having to queue throughout half-time for a drink.
The Ducks were coming into the game having not played since before Christmas when they drew 1-1 with Northwood. Bedford narrowly lost to Rushden & Diamonds between Christmas and New Year but had not played since. With Aylesbury sitting just above the drop-zone and Bedford in mid-table, you could say that the Ducks were in greater need of the points. Having said that, it would only take 3 or 4 wins on the bounce to put Bedford into the playoff contention. So, plenty to play for on both sides.
The opening 10 minutes of the first half passed by with little incident. The home side looked the more confident on the ball and were trying to mount attacks, especially down their right side. However, it was Aylesbury, with their shoot on sight policy, who were looking slightly more threatening when they did get the ball. In fact, in the opening 30 minutes, it was The Ducks who mustered two or three decent shots on target whilst Bedford never really troubled the away goal too much.
When finally Bedford did get a shot on target it was dealt with comfortably by the Aylesbury keeper Zaki Oualah.
Just before the break came the highlight of the first half when an Olesumo drive from 25 yards was acrobatically turned around the post by the home keeper, Siwe.
So, no score at half-time and despite the home side having the majority of possession it had been Aylesbury who had come closest to scoring.
Bedford started the second half at a higher tempo than the first and created a couple of good scoring chances in the opening 10 minutes the second of which, a glaring miss from 12 yards out, was the best opportunity of the game so far.
Following a crunching challenge in midfield there was an altercation between the two number 8s, Josh Beech for Bedford and Paul Lyon of Aylesbury. Both players earned a yellow card but the feud had clearly not finished. There was an exchange of words off the ball straight from the restart and, presumably as a precaution, Aylesbury replaced their player very soon afterwards.
Just a few minutes after this scare, Bedford made the game safe. Diop collected a pass on the left side of the Aylesbury box and drilled a low hard shot past the keeper and into the far corner. Then, in the final minute, a deep cross from the left was header back across the box for Beech to simply tap the ball over the line for 3-0.
The final score was somewhat harsh on the away side. Although over the 90 minutes you could say that Bedford edged the game, 3-0 made the result sound far easier than it actually was. If Aylesbury keep up the work rate they showed in this game they should be safe from the drop.
I got the impression from their supporters that Bedford did not show their best form on the night but they did show some glimpses of being better than a mid-table team and they are now just 8 points adrift of the play-off places.
Bedford Town - @bedfordtown
Aylesbury United - @aylesburyutdfc