BEDFORD TOWN 0 STOKE CITY U21 3
Lee Bearman tasted defeat for the first time as Bedford Town boss at the hands of Barclays Premier League Stoke City’s U21 side tonight.
The Potters ran out comfortable winners in front of 184 at the Eyrie thanks to goals from Elliot Wheeler, captain James Alabi and substitute Derice Richards.
The gulf in class was evident right from the first kick and Stoke opened the scoring in the tenth minute in spectacular fashion.
City right-back Wheeler picked the ball up on the right-hand edge of the Bedford box, cut back inside on his left-foot and unleashed a delightful 25-yard effort across goalkeeper Dan Green into the far corner, with the ball rebounding off the post and rolling in.
They doubled their advantage just three minutes later when an attempted home clearance went straight to striker Alabi - who dinked a header straight back over Green and into the net.
Green saved Bedford’s blushes on 22 minutes when he pulled off a smart fingertip save to tip Alabi’s pile-driver over the top.
The closest the Eagles came to scoring in the half - and indeed the match - came moments later when Omar McLeary Stephens’ downward header from Max Onambele’s inswinging corner finished up just inches wide.
The impressive Alabi was a constant thorn in Bedford’s side and only Jordan Jarrold’s goal line clearance stopped him heading the visitors into the three-goal lead ten minutes before the break.
Indeed had it not been for Green, Stoke would have been even further out of sight, turning yet another effort - this time from the boot of Marcel Barrington - around the post.
Alabi continued to pose big problems for the home side after the break and he very nearly curled home number three from the edge of the box, but his effort was a matter of inches over the bar.
The flow of the game gave way to a raft of substitutions from both sides around the hour mark and two of those changes combined to engineer a third goal for Stoke, with Richards side-footing home Eddie Lecygne’s centre from close range.
Bedford struggled to put anything together in an attacking sense and Jordan Patrick’s shot from distance - that tested sub goalkeeper Dale Eve - was their only real effort of note in the second half.