Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round
Saturday 2nd September 2023
Southall 2 Beaconsfield Town 2
The 1878 stadium Burnham fc Att - 118
Ram of the match - Jonathan Hippolyte
A brace of late goals from second-half substitute Jonathan Hippolyte gave Beaconsfield Town an FA cup lifeline and secured a replay at Holloways Park on Tuesday evening. The Rams looked dead and buried when former Ram Dylan Kearney diverted home a 69th minute near post corner to give the hosts a two-goal advantage which was frankly the least they deserved at theat point.
What had gone before was all too familiar for Rams watchers this season. Starting well enough, enjoying good possession and creating early chances. Not capitalising, conceding, and then struggling.
The positive difference on this occasion was the fight back, spearheaded by Hippolyte and epitomised by club skipper Luke Neville, thrown on to add aerial presence at the death, Neville almost scored himself, seeing a header drift agonisingly wide before rising majestically to head James' Dobson's freekick into the path of Hippolyte whose emphatic finish from 10 yards completed the comeback.
The third successive season that a last-minute goal has ensured a 2-2 draw and a replay at this stage of the cup, the second consecutive time that it has been a Ram's goal.
The Rams began well enough Asher Yearwood found himself in space on the edge of the area as the home midfield failed to track his run but a closing defender did enough to prevent a clean strike and Michael Edegbe in the Southall goal was able to turn the effort wide.From the resulting corner, Joe Morrison rose well at the far post and his downward header bounced up and was blocked into the air by Edegbe but his defenders managed to shield him enough to allow him to collect the rebound.
Sam Granville run and shot brought a regulation save from Edegbe and the keeper was fortunate that the referee came to his rescue after flapping at a Dobson corner under pressure.
Southall were slow into their stride but stuck to their task and were rewarded in the 24th minute with their first threatening attack. Poor defending down their right allowed Darreon Mark to brush through challenges en route to the bye line. His low pull back was met squarely six yards out by Jaden Thompson-Brissett who gave Sam Beasant no chance.
From that point, there was one team in it. Whilst chances were few, Southall dominated possession and territory and Beaconsfield became increasingly disjointed and error-prone.
Pre-match Jon Underwood told his team that for Southall to do well they would need to, "Do the simple things well and not make mistakes, we need to stamp our quality on the game and force those mistakes". For the better part of 50 minutes after the opener the roles were reversed here.
Poor passing and almost calamitous distribution from the back heaped the pressure on The Rams.
The hosts seemingly a little shot shy failed to take real advantage or extend Beasant but could and should have doubled their advantage 10 minutes after the first goal with a carbon copy. Again, somewhat worryingly The Rams failed to learn from that earlier goal. Somehow allowing Thompson-Brissett similar easy access to the bye line his pullback found ex-Ram Dylan Kearney winning the battle and sliding in at the far post. Fortunately for Beaconsfield, he could not get a good contact and screwed the chance wide.
Half time 1-0
Jonathan Hippolyte was introduced at the break in place of Dan Bradshaw, who can reasonably feel somewhat aggrieved to get the hook at the break. Having again been asked to play out of his normal position. He and James Dobson swapping their usual wings seemingly to facilitate cutting in onto their favoured foot to create shooting opportunities? Not much in evidence on either flank in the first half. On the basis of the first-half performance, there were several equally deserving candidates for the early shower.
Hippolyte gave notice from early in the half that his pace would create problems for the home defense but they were well drilled and organised and defended well as a unit reducing The Rams' opportunities. Although enjoying more of the possession The Rams were still misfiring. Their play was littered with misplaced passes, poor decision making, and a general lack of composure. Somehow the squad that warms up and trains with pace and precision, one and two touch passing, and genuine quality disappears on contact with an opponent. They clearly have the ability but as a unit they seem to struggle to maintain the mental toughness and concentration to cut out individual errors, make good decisions, and deal with the physical pressure that football at this level will deliver. They're not exactly getting bullied but they are not winning the individual battles often enough to take control of games and dominate teams. Defensively, set pieces are becoming an issue. The Rams have seldom looked comfortable defending set pieces and as a result, physical, difficult aggressive target men like Dylan Kearney have often proved an issue. So it was again here, as the Ex-Ram timed his run to perfection to meet an inswinging corner, just ahead of the near post and deftly deflected it home. On the basis of the season so far, you'd have been forgiven for assuming the tie was dead and buried at that point.
To their credit Beaconsfield fought back, Hippolyte combined with Yearwood whose curling goalbound effort was brilliantly saved by Edegbe. From the resulting corner, The Rams were back in it. James Dobson's inswinger was only half cleared by Abdul Nurein under pressure from Hippolyte who reacted quickest to the loose ball firing home on the turn from the edge of the six-yard box.
With 16 minutes remaining, Beaconsfield had hope of salvaging the tie but the home side dug in and defended mightily. The visitors dominated possession and finally enjoyed a period of sustained pressure as Suthall sat in and dug in.
When Neville rose highest to head another Dobson delivery inches wide of the far post deep into added time it seemed that they had done the job and taken the scalp of The Rams.
Hippolyte had other ideas though. He capped his own personal performance and his team's fightback with his emphatic finish to take the tie back to Beaconsfield on Tuesday.
Tough on Southall who probably edged it on the day. The Rams though live to fight another day and on the evidence of this encounter, they will need to fight all the way if they are to progress.
Images © Neale Blackburn Photography 2023