Bedford part-timers just as Posh

Bedford 0 Peterborough 0
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The Independent Online

It was supposed to be a romantic return to his roots for Barry Fry and his impoverished Posh professionals yesterday but instead they were lucky to escape an early FA Cup exit as Bedford's part-timers earned a well-deserved replay with a plucky first round performance.

"I've been a manager for 28 years now and this is the first time that I've come away for a 0-0 draw because we need the money," quipped the ebullient Fry after this forgettable footballing clash at the new Eyrie. "Bedford were terrific and we never looked like scoring." The replay will take place at London Road on 27 November.

With an early kick-off forced upon the home team at the BBC's request because their floodlights could not produce the light required by the cameras, it was difficult not to admire Bedford's efforts.

A full house of 2,626 created a decent atmosphere, the pitch was green and true and Bedford certainly rose to the challenge of matching their Second Division visitors.

"I changed the team around and the system for this game," admitted the Bedford manager Roger Ashby. "We played on Tuesday night and we were awful. We have lots of injuries, too, so we switched to a 3-5-2 and used a sweeper for the first time."

The Bedford "libero" was Lee Harvey, one of a clutch of former professionals in their side, who played more than 130 times for Brentford, and he did not put a pass astray in an impeccable display at the back.

If Peterborough shaded the first half, Bedford enjoyed superiority in the second, but it was marginal. On chances, however, rather than possession, the home team were the clearest winners and could have wrapped up their place in the second round after 52 minutes when a Mark Paul cross from the right found Wayne Dyer unmarked.

Unfortunately, the tall Montserrat international midfielder turned slowly and then only half-hit a weak shot which Mark Tyler scrambled away at the foot of his right post. "We were all puffing and blowing and willing it to go in, but it just wouldn't," Ashby admitted afterwards. "I am sure it would have done if he had caught the shot properly."

Fry was more concerned with his own players' failings. The captain Andy Edwards' header from a corner, saved easily by James Heeps, was Peterborough's only on-target effort in 90 minutes against a side of lorry drivers, electricians and gasmen.

The game was the biggest for Bedford in recent times, certainly since the club was re-formed in 1990 after the town had been without one for eight years, and earned gross receipts of more than £23,000.

It also gave Bedford their first reward in three FA Cup meetings with their local rivals following defeats in 1953 and 1967. "We know, on paper, that we should lose the replay, but we plan to enjoy it and give it a go," said Ashby. "And the money is going to be very important for the club."

The last word went to Fry, as usual. "Our play was woeful at times, we had only one shot on target and that was after an hour! I am really glad that we are still in the FA Cup. But it is going to be a different matter at London Road.

"Last year we had a similar situation where we kept drawing games then we eventually got Chelsea away and got hammered 5-0. We made £350 000 last year out of the FA Cup and it would be great to do the same this year."

Bedford 0 Peterborough 0

Attendance: 2,626