Saturday 14th October 2023
Pitching in Southern League
Premier Division South
Beaconsfield Town 2 Didcot Town 1
Holloways Park Att: 261
Ram of the match - Chosen by Match sponsors Verallo chartered accountants - Iker Noguera
Goals either side of half-time from Players at opposite ends of their careers were enough to enable Beaconsfield Town to make it Five wins in a row and Six games unbeaten with a hard earned 2-1 victory over Didcot Town at Holloways Park on Saturday.
With manager Jon Underwood attending a family wedding, Sam Togwell took the reins and watched his temporary charges dominate the first period against an obdurate, physical, if somewhat limited Didcot outfit who fought for everything but lacked a sufficient cutting edge in the final third to really trouble the home defence, well marshalled by skipper Luke Neville throughout the first half.The home side began with pace and precision. Jefferson Louis, who clearly has a picture in his attic, lead the line superbly and provided the focal point for the attack engaging, occupying and challenging the centre of the visitor's defence, ensuring there were few uncontested balls and linking with the attacking midfield who controlled the game almost completely. Iker Nougera, Zidan Akers, Asher Yearwood and Sam Granville were prominent throughout with Josh Payne covering every blade of grass in the holding role managing transitions and instigating counters The Rams seemed irresistible. The biggest surprise was the length of time they took to take the lead.James Dobson saw an early cross shot well saved. Asher Yearwood headed wide when well placed on the edge of the Six yard box and Zidan Akers saw a fierce volley parried away, at his near post, by Leigh Bedwell in the Didcot goal. James Dobson hit the bar as his inswinging freekick evaded Joe Morrison 6 yards out and bounced up and off the frame of the goal. The Rams peppered the Didcot goal but just as it looked like the visitors would survive to the break, leaving the Rams to rue the missed opportunities,up popped Jefferson Louis to finally put them in front two minutes before the break, muscling between two defenders with a downward header from a yet another perfect James Dobson cross. Scant reward for Beaconsfield's dominance after they created enough clear first half opportunities to win three games.
Half time 1-0
Didcot started the second half brightly but where rocked back after 50 minutes when 19-year-old Iker Ngouera displayed the impetuocity of youth for all to see. Including his own bench who were imploring him not to shoot! Finding himself under a steepling clearance, from another Dodson delivery, as it dropped from the heavens with snow on it, in a similar position from which Zidan Akers drove in a worldy in the last home game. The youngest, with time to take a touch and pick his pass, declined that option. Instead with brilliant technique and control, he struck the sweetest of volleys straight into the bottom corner from 25 yards with Bedwell, as surprised as everyone else by the audacity of it, left grasping at fresh air.
The Rams appeared to be coasting to another victory. Didcot though, had other ideas fought back hard aided by a refereeing performance that seemed increasingly to have taken the FA directive regarding cheap free kicks and applied it to any freekicks. Either that or Mr Scott is on loan from the WWE. The visitors took control of the second with Robbie Gallagher showing pace and tenacity down the right, James Dobson and Nougera were stretched almost to breaking before Jenson Wright rewarded their efforts nodding home from close range just after the hour.
In days gone by the distress signals would have gone up and The Ram's of early season would very probably have crumbled under the Didcot onslaught. The team with the addition of the seldom less than excellent Jacques Kpohomouh [Pog to his friends] on the right of defence and Dodson on the opposite flank, are made of sterner stuff. Togwell sent on Jacob Gardiner Smith to add energy and snap in the midfield and IBBy Sankoh for Josh Payne who had given everything in the fight for midfield control.The home side's cause was further hampered when Zidan Akers received a straight red card, apparently for lashing out, after he appeared to be held around the legs by the Didcot keeper as the pair tangled after Bedwell had made a brave block at his feet. Mr Scott clearly didn't see the incident but was aided by his assistant, a virtual spectator to this point. After a lengthy conference, Akers received the early bath, whilst Bedwell, who on the basis of general demeanour all afternoon, was probably at least partially responsible, went completely unpunished.
Didcot now really had their tails up but for all their huff and they created little beyond the occasional panicky clearance and had Bedwell to thank for keeping the score down producing fine saves to twice deny Asher Yearwood. Whilst at the other end Matt Rowley was left to command his area with his usual aplomb, tidy up behind his back four, and collect the occasional cross.
It wasn't exactly comfortable at any point but exposed Didcot's lack of a clinical cutting edge.
Beaconsfield will need to be every bit, if not more, resolute next week as first they head to the banks of the Thames to face the division's top scorers Walton and Hersham before entertaining the division's best defence on the following Tuesday when league leaders Gosport Borough will be the visitors to Holloways Park.
By The time The Rams head to Harrow Borough on 28th October for their First Round tie in the FA trophy, we will have a good idea of where they are as a squad.
They can clearly compete in the middle and lower reaches of the division and, on current form at least, should cautiously be gazing upwards rather than down. Do they have what it takes to mix it at the sharp end amongst the big squads with big resources and loftier ambitions? The next 10 days will go some way towards providing an answer
They will likely be hampered by the absence of Zidan Akers who, unless it is successfully appealed, will probably face a three-match ban for yesterday's straight Red.
That said his absence may provide an opportunity for others in the squad to stake their claim, in line-ups which will likely be somewhat more tactically pragmatic in outlook given the quality of the opposition.
Teams and Match facts - [Southern League web site]
Images © Neale Blackburn Photography 2023