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Met Police 3 Beaconsfield Town 1
Rams Man of the Match - Wes Daly
Three hours after returning home from Imber court I found myself pacing the floors and subsequently A and E with Renal Colic caused by a Kidney stone. On reflection that was more fun than watching the first half at Imber Court last night.
The Rams were forced to alter their line-up because of injuries, illness and other commitments. Manager Gary Meakin decided to shuffle his restructured pack and start with three centre-halves and wing backs. A change but not rocket science.
For some reason The Rams spent most of a dire first half on the borders of disarray. Particularly in possession. Passes consistently went astray, runs went one way as the ball went the other, second balls were watched but never collected and for long periods they looked like they’d met up in the car park before kick-off having not been previously introduced.
By the time the referee drew a merciful close to first half proceedings the hosts were three up and coasting.
Two goals from corners in a two minute spell did the damage. On 18 minutes Louis Birch’s flick on from a flat driven corner seemed to glance off Ade Shokunbi and fell to Lewis Beale who prodded home past the wrong footed Hafed Al-Droubi in the visitors goal.
Two minutes later an ankle high corner somehow managed to miss everyone at a packed near-post before arriving at Stuart Wilkin, in splendid isolation at the far post, and the midfielder rammed home number two with glee.
At the other end James Ewington had a good chance to reduce the arrears but saw his effort smoothered wide by home keeper Rhys Forster who was quickly off his line and made himself big to block the strikers attempt to dink an effort over him.
Moments later it was 3-0 as Mayo Balogun, who seemed particularly discomforted by the change of role, dithered in possession and was dispossessed on half way by Beale who allowed the home side to counter. With The Rams defence on their heels the hosts spread the ball the width of the field feeding Oliver Knight in acres of space in the right back channel. He advanced and slotted the ball home past the helpless Al-Droubi.
Half Time 3-0
At the break Gary Meakin making his 500th half time team talk as a manager remained on the field for some time with the substitutes and in particular Wes Daly and Nathan Webb, held back from the starting 11 as he recovers full fitness. When the manager departed, presumably in search of some tea-cups, the two midfielders stripped for action.
It was no surprise to see Mayo Balogun withdrawn at the interval. He looked out of sorts and uncomfortable all evening but James Taylor’s non appearance for the second period was a little more surprising. There certainly seemed more deserving candidates particularly across the midfield which was largely invisible for most of the first half.
With Daly and Nathan Webb inserted in the heart of the midfield, The Rams Swiss Army knife, Jordan Ajanlekoko slotted into the back three. Sean Fraser went to right back and Nathan Webb switched wings to fill in for Balogun.
The transformation was striking and almost immediate. With Daly pulling the strings and Nathan Webb buzzing around him snuffing out danger The Rams took control - though Webb did manage to get himself rather unfortunately booked with his first meaningful contribution.
That decision owed as much to the referee Mr Warren’s subsequently expressed if somewhat idiosyncratic view that the location of a foul trumps the severity or recklessness of the challenge when considering Yellow cards.
On that basis Webb can consider himself unfortunate to have been sanctioned for a clumsy rather than malicious attempt. Especially in light of the charmlessly muscularly ineffective angular charging about that Jack Mazzone did all night with barely a word from the man in the middle.
The change in pattern and fortunes became even more apparent when Ade Shokunbi was replaced by the lively Cheyce Grant, releasing Louis Stead from his hitherto central position and allowing him licence to maraud down the left.
Beaconsfield were on the front foot and the hosts now looked disjointed and their halftime swagger was replaced by ‘Game management’ in which special mention should go to Rhys Forster in the home goal.
I don’t know when received wisdom in goalkeeping coaching began teaching the need to fall forward and subdue the ball lest it escape your standing grasp like a greased ferret. I just know I’d like it to stop. Particularly when, as here, it is employed irrespective of pace on the ball. If you can throw your cap on it there is no earthly need to body slam it too. Just pick it up and get on with the game.
On 62 minutes The Rams breathed life into the game with the best passage of football on the night. The midfield were all involved moving the ball quickly with precision creating the opening for Ewington who fired home with aplomb. Game on!
The visitors remained on the front foot and dominated proceedings throughout the second half as the hosts, ‘Settled in to protect their advantage’ or, ‘were pressed back and largely outplayed’ depending on which eye you were watching with.
For all the territory, though, Forster was seldom extended until the 80th minute when Ewington beat the offside trap and burst through the centre. It seemed odds on that he would oblige and set up a grandstand finish but a crucial bobble stuck the ball between his feet at the crucial moment and he ended up shovelling his effort well wide as Forster and defenders converged.
That was that. In the final analysis The Rams probably got entirely what the first half performance deserved but can take heart from the spirit and quality they showed in their hugely encouraging second half efforts.
Next up is the tip to Wimborne on Saturday.
Met Police FC
1. Rhys Forster
2. Ben Scorey
3. Alex Fisher
4. Oliver Robinson [Sub 12. Zac Chislett 56]
5. Junior Eldstal
6. Louis Birch
7. Oliver Knight
8. Stuart Wilkin
9. Jack Mazzone
10. George Firth
11. Lewis Beale [Sub15 Rudy Appiah-Allen 78]
Subs Not Used:
14. Ayoub Assal
17. Tom Cursons
Manager: Gavin Macpherson
1. Hafed Al-Droubi
2. Callum Webb
3. Mayo Balogun [Sub 12 Wesley Daly 46]
4. James Taylor [Sub15 Nathan Webb 46]
5. Luke Neville ©
6. Jerome Eccleston
7. Jordan Ajanlekoko
8. Ade Shokunbi [Sub16 Checye Grant 56]
9. James Ewington
10. Louis Stead
11. Sean Fraser
Subs Not Used:
17. Mihai Andrei Chiriac
Manager: Gary Meakin
Attendance : 90
Ref: G Warren - Assistants D Sotimirian - S Ingrey