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Beaconsfield Town 1 Poole Town 2
Rams Man of the Match - Bayley Brown
Rams fall victim to opening day smash and grab.
Much in the world has changed since 10th March when these two teams played out the last pre lock down fixture of the 2019-20 season. Comfortingly for those who yearn for the status quo the standard of officiating seems to have remained blissfully unaffected by pandemic, political upheaval or economic collapse.
Decisions are subjective but The Rams could reasonably feel they got the rough end of two in the second half here which effectively cost them the game. The first handed the visitors a second goal and then the second reduced the home side to ten men and effectively killed off their fight back.
Before Mr Scott intervened in proceedings, the visitors made a spirited start.Relying on the overlapping pace of Declan Rose on the right wing and Bailey Rowe on the left linking with the muscularity of Tony James-Lee leading the line. Largely bypassing the centre of the park, the early bombardment resulted in a succession of corners but no real alarms for Adam Forster in the home goal.
The Rams, initially a little disjointed, relaxed into their game as the half progressed, improving throughout with patient football in possession and tenacious pressing out of it.
Chances though, were limited. Jefferson Louis came close fizzing a 20 yard drive just wide of the angle of post and bar and Oli Sprague delivered a curling free kick which narrowly evaded Jerome Ecclestone and was turned away by Mark Childs in the Poole Town goal for the first of a succession of corners.
Somewhat against the run of play it was the visitors who went ahead. breaking with pace after a Ram’s set corner routine dissolved into chaos. Bailey Rowe, fed by Lee, cut in from the angle to drive a low shot across Adam Forster into the bottom corner.
The Rams could have been level moments later when a miss placed header from Thiago Caze Da Silva presented James Ewington with the ball 20 yards from goal. The striker steadied himself and seemed odds on to score but as Childs advanced to meet him Ewington placed his shot beyond the keeper and agonisingly wide of the post.
Half time 0-1
The second period began quietly enough with the visitors asserting as in the first period but without real alarm for The Rams defence.
On 53 minutes Mr Scott made his first major decision. A Rams free kick routine was snuffed out by the Poole defence and a long hopeful punt forward caused hesitation between Forster and Jerome Ecclestone. As the keeper retreated Ecclestone elected to shield the bouncing ball back to him but was harried and hustled by Tony James Lee who bundled the defender over leaving him face down on the turf before half-heartedly nodding the ball beyond the static Forster. All parties waited for the whistle for the fairly blatant foul on Ecclestone. It didn’t come. The goal stood. Somehow The Rams were two down in a game they had largely controlled.
Charlie Losasso replaced Nathan Webb as Gary Meakin sought to freshen up the attacking options. The move paid off almost immediately as he, Ade Shokunbi and Jefferson Louis combined for a slick piece of interplay that freed Ewington on the edge of the box.
There was no repeat of the first half and the striker fired his shot past Childs into the opposite top corner. The goal was no more than the Rams deserved and Holloways Park sensed that the comeback was not only on but inevitable.
Enter Mr Scott. As The Rams continued to press they remained vulnerable to the break. During one such Ade Shokunbi clearly pulled back Luke Pardoe whose pace and dribbling ability were becoming a greater threat.
Shokunbi received, on the face of it, a reasonable yellow card for a, ‘good foul for his team’ type offence. That said earlier similar offences of ‘professional’ fouls had gone unpunished beyond simple admonishment. It might be argued that the time of the offence somehow contributed to the escalated punishment? The fact of the matter is though this kind of officiating drives managers and supporters mad because of the inconsistency. It is the nature of the offence that should dictate the punishment. If the offence is worthy of a caution in the 60th minute it is equally deserving at any point.
That said it was unlikely to cause an issue - until four minutes later when a tussle in midfield resulted in the upright Shokunbi, having been tackled, trapped with his feet clamped between the legs of the prone tackler.
Only the man on the floor will know whether the tangle of feet and legs was prolonged deliberately but The Rams midfielder was anchored as the visitors broke. Shokunbi’s vigorous attempts to escape drew a histrionic response from his captor as he finally broke free and a vociferous response from Corby Moore who spent the afternoon in the ear of all the officials.
Mr Scott, following the play upfield, can only have witnessed the end of proceedings probably subsequent to the BAFTA nominated floor work.
Without recourse to his assistant, ten yards away directly in line with the incident, he deemed Shokunbi the lone aggressor, produced a second yellow and, having retrieved it from the floor, the red.
Again, if such a handbags incident is to result in cautions, both players are equally culpable and should be cautioned as it was it was nothing and could suitably have been dealt with by way of words of advice.
Mr Scott had a decent afternoon but he had two big decisions to make. He made both without recourse to his assistants, both better placed, closer to the incidents. The first was simply wrong and will be given as a foul until hell freezes over. The second more debatable but here, probably more game changing.
The dismissal effectively snuffed out the fightback.
Gary Meakin rang the changes from the bench introducing Mihai Andrei Chiriac and Kane Guy Seifert to inject pace and youthful enthusiasm but despite much huff and puff the home team could not muster more than half chances and though Poole continued to offer little as an attacking threat they remained well organized, disciplined and, with the man advantage, saw out the final quarter fairly comfortably.
Despite the result there was much to admire about the football The Rams played. Summer signings, in particular Bayley Brown immense throughout and Oli Sprague, a lively replacement for the much missed Mayo Balogun, gave every indication of good things to come. Together with Jefferson Louis leading the line with guile there is every indication that their quality and experience combined with the youth and vitality of the squad overall give cause for cautious optimism.
The Rams return to match action on Monday as they entertain Harrow Borough in the Fa Cup
1. Adam Forster
2. Callum Webb
3. Oli Sprague [Sub12.Kane Guy-Seifert 70]
4. Jerome Ecclestone
5. Luke Neville
6. Bayley Brown
7. Jordan Ajanlekoko ©
8. Ademola Shokunbi
9. Jefferson Louis [Sub16 Mihai-Andrei Chiriac 80]
10. James Ewington
11. Nathan Webb [Sub15 Charlie Losasso 60 ]
Subs Not Used
14. Matthew Hall
17. Alexander Cathline
Manager: Gary Meakin
1. Mark Childs
2. Declan Rose
5. Jamie Whisken
6. Thiago Caze Da Silva
18. Sam Jackson
11. Luke Pardoe
10. Luke Burbidge
9. Tony-James Lee [Sub16 Will Fletcher 90]
7. Josh Carmichael
8. Corby Moore
12 Bailey Rowe [3 Jake Smeeton 72]
Subs Not Used
17 David Jerrard
15 Sean Wright
13 Will Spetch
Manager: Tom Killick
Ref: Luke Scott
Assistants: Mark Bright - Jack Scott