Hatters manager Nathan Jones was pleased with the test Non-League neighbours Bedford Town gave his first team yesterday at the Eyrie – and more than happy his squad came through injury free ahead of their flight to Slovenia this morning.
The Town came from behind 2-1 at the Eyrie with a goal in each half from summer signing James Collins and left-back Dan Potts, who signed a new one-year deal in the close season.
It was a totally different afternoon to last July when the Hatters won 9-0 in their second friendly, having played a game at their Hungarian training came the previous week.
Reflecting on the tougher test offered by Jon Taylor’s Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central outfit this time around, Jones said: “That’s what it’s about and we’re injury-free as well, so that’s a bonus.
“It’s a good work-out on a hot day against a well-organised side. They were far more organised than they were last year when it was a bit of a rout here, but it was a real good work-out and we are pleased.
“Of course, you obviously want to score more goals. We had more chances and we probably should have scored, but it’s our first game.
“We came here last year in our second game and we’d had two weeks of pre-season, so we are a week behind where we were when we came here last time.
“It was nice to win the game, but the most important thing is that everyone got a 45-minute work-out and we didn’t pick up any injuries.”
The Town fell behind to a tenth-minute strike from Bedford striker Lee Roache, having seen headers from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Scott Cuthbert – both getting on the end of set-pieces delivered by new loan signing Andrew Shinnie – go narrowly wide in the opening period.
“Of course, we are disappointed to conceded a goal,” said Jones. “We had two glorious chances from set plays and then got hit when we were in control of the game with a bit of a sucker punch, but they deserved that. Fair play to them. They were well organised, they worked very hard and it was a good work-out for us.”
Collins, who scored 22 times for Crawley last season before making the switch to Kenilworth Road, tucked away the equaliser before Potts won, and then converted, the 73rd-minute spot-kick to end Bedford’s stubborn resistance soon after they’d had another good chance to score themselves.
On Collins, Jones said: “It’ll do him the world of good. Whether he remembers this game further down the line or not, it’s good for him because it’ll stand him in good stead. He’s off the mark in his first game, which is always good for a striker.”
And on Potts the penalty taker, he said: “He was one of our five to take one in the play-offs, so it’s not rare. I was a little bit surprised that Jordan Cook didn’t take it, because he’s taken one in a first team game before, but as long as we score it, it’s pre-season, so the main objectives were met today.”
Overall, the gaffer was delighted with how the 22 players he fielded came through before flying to Maribor early this morning, and taking in Slovenian second division side NK Bravo next week.
He added: “We’ve worked and mixed the sides up, partnered certain people with each other today. It’s been very good. The new signings have fitted in well. Everyone gels. Now we go away. We’ve got a big week ahead now in terms of the work we do.”