Hatters pay the Price at Bedford

Bedford Town 1 Luton Town 0LUTON Town fell to defeat against local rivals Bedford Town in their latest pre-season match at the New Eyrie on Saturday, writes Mike Simmonds.

Eagles winger Gareth Price netted the only goal of the game on 47 minutes, taking advantage of a mistake from Town defender Dean Beckwith to score.

Back from their tour of Wales, Hatters manager Gary Brabin named a strong side, with ex-Rushden right back Curtis Osano involved, while former Peterborough and Norwich striker Leon McKenzie, who cost Coventry City £1million in August 2006, began upfront.

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Eager to make an impression, McKenzie looked lively from the start, with a wonderful array of passing, as the ball was teed up for Keith Keane, who sent a drive well over.

Keane had Town’s next effort of note too, dragging his shot wide of Ian Brown, while Bedford’s Wes Lewis tested Mark Tyler with a header.

James Faulkner and Josh Beech sent shots wide, but Town looked dangerous on the left flank whenever Jake Howells and Robbie Willmott combined.

From some nifty Howells footwork, McKenzie sent a header over, while James Dance cut inside and fired straight at Brown.

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Eagles had their moments in the first period too as Price half volleyed the ball into the path of Faulkner, who turned Will Antwi one way and the other, before his shot almost deceived Tyler, but bounced up and into his grateful hands.

Eagles came close again seconds later, but Tyler used his feet to deny Lewis from close range.

McKenzie was showing real signs of class with his link up play as he fed Aaron O’Connor whose shot was blocked, as was Willmott’s follow up.

After the break, Eagles were in front when Beckwith was caught in possession by Price, who strode forward and tucked the ball past Tyler.

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Town tried to hit back immediately, but McKenzie curled over the bar, while half time substitute Matthew Barnes-Homer drove down the wing and Alex Lawless side-footed wide.

The introduction of Barnes-Homer saw Hatters’ frontline look to have more purpose and the forward saw his left footer well tipped wide by Brown at full stretch.

Price then took aim looking for his second, but his deflected drive left Tyler rooted to the spot, only to crash against the crossbar.

A glorious opening for Lawless saw the midfielder scuff his shot back across goal and out for a corner, before he played a lovely through ball for second half substitute Drewe Broughton, but he could only shoot straight into the midriff of Brown.

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Broughton was denied again by Brown, who got down well to palm his low drive behind, while Beckwith’s deflected effort looked to have wrong-footed Brown, but he reacted in time to save.

The former Lincoln striker had another effort, curling wide of the post, while youngster Adam Watkins served further notice of his talent, slaloming through the defence, only to see Brown deflect the ball clear.

From the corner, Broughton finally beat Brown, but Aaran Cavill was on hand to nod off the line as try as they might, Hatters couldn’t break through, leaving Brabin cutting a frustrated figure at full time.

Bedford Town: Ian Brown, Graham Clark (Paul Cooper 68), Kyle Lincoln (Mark Ducket 72), Ben Ekins, Gavin Hoyte, Josh Beech (Tom Damon 79), Gareth Price (Bruce Velo 79), Jamie Cole (Aaran Cavill 61), James Faulkner (Jermaine Hall 76), Wes Lewis (Manny Richardson 46), Jermaine Ivy (Shane Garricks 66).

Subs not used: Luke Lincoln, Seb Simpson, Michael Kavanagh.

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Luton Town: Mark Tyler, Curtis Osano, Jake Howells, Keith Keane (Adam Watkins 61), Dean Beckwith, Will Antwi (Ed Asafu-Adjaye 46) Alex Lawless, James Dance (Amari Morgan-Smith 46), Leon McKenzie (Drewe Broughton 61), Aaron O’Connor (Danny Crow 46), Robbie Willmott (Matthew Barnes-Homer 46).

Referee: G Muge.

Assistant Referees: M Sage & A Medlock.

Attendance: 896.