BEDLINGTON Terriers progressed in the Brookes Mileseon League Cup on Wednesday night with a 1-0 victory over Gilford Park.
There were a couple of changes to the Terrier’s squad from the weekend with Stephen Stewart replacing the rested Craig Hubbard and Mark Convery fit enough to take a place of the bench.
The Gillford Park team contained several ex-Penrith FC players as well as ever popular ex-Terriers Dean Douglas in their ranks.
Bedlington got the game under way in front of a sparse crowd of 35 in bitterly cold, but dry conditions, but the early running was made by Gillford who were showing just why they were pushing so hard for promotion to the Northern League First Division.
Prompted by midfielder Stephen Skinner, Gillford were certainly taking the play to Bedlington and in the fifth minute Craig Pickering had to be alert to claw down a snap shot from Ryan Errington.
The Terriers midfield were finding it tough to get possession as the Gilford players hurried and harried at every opportunity and were giving the Terriers no chance to play their attractive passing game.
After 14 minutes Pickering was again in the game when he pulled off a splendid full length save from a Michael Reed 20 yarder.
Manager Tony Lowery was forced to make a change to personnel on 23 minutes when John Brackstone pulled up with a recurrence of his hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Colin Morton.
Gillford were still bossing proceedings but were unable to capitalise on their superiority with a mixture of poor crossing and great defending by The Terriers back four.
The Terriers were awarded a free kick on 25 minutes with Stuart Elliott over the ball. As he lined up to shoot, he fooled everyone with an expertly floated delivery that found the onrushing Anthony Shandran at the back post, but the Gillford goalkeeper, Ian Milburn was equal to the header and parried the ball away, the clearance completed by ex-Penrith defender David Lynn.
The play continued to switch from end to end, with the eccentric Milburn in the Gillford Park goal, coming to the rescue on several occasions showing deft footwork that some outfield players would be proud of.
The breakthrough for Bedlington came on 39 minutes when “fox in the box” Steve Bowey grabbed a trademark goal from all of two yards.
The build-up to the goal was excellent with slick interpassing between Stephen Harrison, Elliott, Steven Baptist and James Novak with the cross finding Shandran lurking at back post.
He unleashed a powerful volley that was very well saved by Milburn, but he could only push into the path of Bowey who made no mistake.
The Terriers started the second half brightly, kicking down the hill, and they were immediately on the attack.
After the restart Steven Stewart set off on one of his mazy runs only to be upended by defender Matthew Read in the penalty area, but despite strong appeals from the Terriers the referee inexplicably waved them away and play continued.
With Gillford Park now chasing the game, spaces were beginning to appear in their defence but despite all of the efforts of Shandran and Baptist, the Terriers were unable to add to their tally.
Gillford Park made a couple of changes with Marc Butler and Tyron Taylor replacing Craig Wilson and Ryan Errington but were still unable to change the flow of the game.
With a little more composure Bedlington would have bagged a second goal to make the result secure, but as the match went on and with Gillford Park pushing on with their central defenders supplementing the attack, the spectre of extra time became more possible.
As the second half neared its end, clear chances were still scarce and the Terriers defence were repelling everything that Gillford Park could through at them and eventually Gillford just ran out of ideas.
Despite a very good, hard working performance from Gillford Park, the quality of the Bedlington side just edged it and the game ended in a victory and a tie with either Newcastle Benfield or North Shields in the Quarter Finals.
Next up for Bedlington is the visit of title and FA Vase chasing West Auckland on Saturday March 10 2012 kick off 3.00pm