MANAGER Paul Smith has launched a scathing attack on Jake Bedford after the departing goalkeeper refused to fight for his place at Bromsgrove Sporting.
Bedford made 37 appearances for the Rouslers last season and Smith said he was held in ‘very high regard’ at the Victoria Ground.
But with just over a week to go before the new season gets under way, the 23-year-old has turned his back on the club and signed for Midland Football League Premier Division outfit Lye Town.
His decision to leave has been lambasted by Smith, who believes his departure was due the pressure being put on him by summer signing Shaun Edwards.
“I am bitterly disappointed in Jake Bedford,” he said. “The club has looked after Jake probably better than any other footballer.
“And in all the time he has been at the club he has been a regular number one and never been put under any pressure for his shirt.
“But towards the back end of last season — and he will tell you this himself — his performances were not where they needed to be and in half a dozen games he cost us goals and cost us some very valuable points.
“Now on the back of that, I decided to bring in Shaun Edwards to go up against him because I believe there should be competition for every position,
“I have got four centre-halves going for two places, I have got six central midfielder going for two/three spaces and I have got five strikers going for two/three places, so for me the goalkeeping position should be no different.
“Unfortunately, Jake has decided he is not very happy that he has been put under pressure and has left the football club.”
Smith was left further infuriated when Bedford told him he would not play against Coleshill Town on Tuesday, leaving Sporting to field striker Jozsef Jakab in goal as Edwards was unavailable for the friendly.
Although the Bromsgrove boss admitted he was on the lookout for a replacement, he insisted Bedford’s exit had left the door open for Edwards to stake his claim.
“This gives Shaun a tremendous opportunity,” Smith added.
“I am looking to have two goalkeepers so they can push each other, but Shaun is in the driving seat.
“Shaun was number one at Alvechurch last season, so he is no mug and he has took to training brilliantly. He has not made a mistake in any of the games or in the minutes he has had, so I am not panicking about the situation at all.”
Sporting welcome Runcorn Town to the Victoria Ground for their penultimate friendly tomorrow (Saturday).
* ROBUST midfielder John Myrie has joined Sporting from Rushall Olympic. His arrival comes in the same week Smith retained the services of Aaron Williams and Sam Delaney.