Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South
Friday 7th April 2023
Beaconsfield Town 3 Merthyr Town 5
Holloways Park - Attendance 150
Ram of the match - Dan Bradshaw
Beaconsfield almost made a game of it with a much improved second-half performance but the three-goal head start they gave the visitors meant that the Martyrs were able to keep their grip on the game and the points.
With Kie Plumley ruled out having sustained a finger injury training with his parent club Oxford United Cairo Richards made his debut in The Ram's goal and it was a tough afternoon for the 18-year-old debutant.
The young keepers handling error on the brink of halftime probably put the game beyond The Rams. Stretching to claim the ball under his bar from Tom Handleys hopeful hoof into the box that reared up off the surface the young keeper got himself tangle up under the bar, juggled the ball behind him and over the line before forlornly snatching it back.
At 2-0 you felt The Rams had shown enough in the closing stages of the half to promise the possibility of a fightback.
The home side start quite brightly but the visitors looked more threatening in possession whereas Beaconsfield were careless and not quite on the pace in the opening period. As a result, they never really tested Jaimie Cogman in The Martyr's goal.
After an initial home flurry, Merthyr dominated the early going, Frazer Thomas prominent throughout in combination with the outstanding Bubacarr Sama down the right.
Thomas was heavily involved in the opener, Olly Sprague seemed to gamble on an interception that he failed to make and that sent Frazer Thomas skipping down the wing. His cross was met by Lewis Powell whose looping header was nodded over Cairo Richards into the far corner.
Thomas made it two ten minutes later, exchanging passes with Sama before advancing into the area and firing home.
When he limped off after 40 minutes Merthyr were poorer for his absence.
Beaconsfield dominated the closing stages of the half but huffed and puffed in the final third and didn't create much in the way of a clear sight of Cogman's goal.
When Elliott Buchanan limped off with a recurrence of a groin injury after 35 minutes it had the feeling of one of those afternoons but his replacement Lucas Sinclair started brightly immediately drawing a foul in the inside left channel. The resulting freekick caused chaos in the Merthyr area but Sam Togwell was crowded out as he tried to force the ball home from six yards.
The Omens seemed better as Sinclair subjected Sama to a tougher examination in the closing 10 minutes of the half.
Then Richard's error and the third goal changed the complexion of the game completely.
Half Time 3-0
The Rams began the second half strongly but again were wanting of a little composure or luck in the final third and could not convert the chances they created. The best of which saw a combination of Jaimie Cogman and Liam Angel block well save well from Nathan Minhas on the hour.
Merthyr defended solidly and hopes of the comeback were all but extinguished when Alex Johns added Merthyrs' fourth in the 65th minute. When his inswinging left-wing corner was allowed to sail straight in, over Richards' flailing attempted punch, the game seemed to be over.
The Rams rallied again though and remained on the front foot throughout the closing stages
Goals from substitutes Antoine Makoli, firing home from 15 yards after Cogman had pushed away a Toby Little shot and Lucas Sinclair's low cross-shot into the corner reduced the arrears before Beaconsfield conceded possession cheaply as they attempted to pass their way through the Merthyr midfield and Powell settled the visitor's nerves with a tidy finish.
There was still time for Dan Bradshaws to pop up to renew hope with an 85th-minute close-range finish.
In fact, had Sam Togwells header through a crowded six-yard box, two minutes later not been ruled out for a marginal offside in the Melee they may have completed the most improbable of comebacks.
Justice prevailed though and Merthyr who were the better team on the afternoon ran out of deserved winners.
As for Beaconsfield, defensive frailties remain but there were positives to take from the performance.
Antoine Makoli looked lively on the left and took his goal well, Lucas Sinclair is as mercurial as he ever was but also scored a well-taken goal and carries a constant threat when running at defenders. While in Kai Alsopp continues to grow into a player. His increased confidence is clear to see. He did well here and will come on again for the 80 minutes of experience gained.
This being Easter there's no time to dwell on though The Rams will just have to chalk this one up to experience as they now head to promotion-chasing Bracknell on Easter Monday kick-off at 3 pm.
Beaconsfield Town :
Cairo Richards, Charlie Smith, Toby Little © [Sub Antoine Makoli 61], Lewis Pegg, Ollie Sprague, Sam Togwell, Sam Granville, Dan Bradshaw, Nathan Minhas, Elliott Buchanan [Sub Lucas Sinclair 36] Kai Allsopp [Sub BenThomas 77].
Subs Not Used - Luke Neville, Alfie Inman
Jaimie Cogman, Bubacarr Sama, Jamie Adams, Liam Angel©, Callum Ryan-Phillips [Sub Noah Smerdon 68], Frazer Thomas [Sub Owen Brain 43], Alex John, Lewis Powell, Ricardo Rees, Alexander Bonthron [Sub Matthew Harris 61] Thomas Handley.
Subs not used - William Fuller, Curtis Jemmett-Hutson
Referee - Graham Swanton
Assistants - Fernando Costache, Dani Mansour
All images ©Neale Blackburn 2023
Full game images - Here