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Southern Premier League Southern Division
Dorchester Town Beaconsfield Town
Rams Man of the Match - Louis Stead
Minhas brace grounds Magpies and eases Ram’s relegation fears
Before this fixture Gary Meakin’s team had recorded just one league win away from home in five long months. The Rams fortunes changed with the clocks on Saturday as two goals from Aaron Minhas, either side of a bullet header from Brendan Matthew, earned Beaconsfield their first away league win since Merthyr Town on October 20th.
Under new manager Callum Brooks, Dorchester were unbeaten in March. Three wins and two draws has seen them ease their own relegation fears and on paper they seemed likely to provide a stern test for The Rams.The game isn’t played on paper though and whilst they enjoyed good possession and possess some very talented forward thinking individuals, Antonio Diaz and Dom Penesar-Dower in particular, as a team they lacked the guile to break down a well marshalled and disciplined Beaconsfield who reduced them to a succession of long range efforts and crosses which Ravan Constable, back to his imperious best, was able to deal with comfortably.
Going forward it quickly became apparent that the pace of Louis Stead, Brendan Matthew and Aaron Minhas was likely to trouble the home defence. Exploiting the spaces created by the willingness of home full backs Kyle Egan and Sam Jackman to bomb forward and join in the attack, leaving the less mobile centre back pairing of Callum Rose and Nathan Walker somewhat exposed. Even the loss of Charlie Losasso, who limped off after four minutes with a calf strain to be replaced by Thomas Gogo, did not overly disrupt The Rams who adapted and if anything Gogo’s pace and trickery added to Dorchester’s problems.
From the first minute to the 96th Louis Stead was at the heart of everything. His first minute cross over the head of Aaron Minhas was an indication of things to come and a second low pull back moments later was just beyond Brendan Matthew.
As Dorchester pressed they were vulnerable to the counter with Stead and Gogo providing outlets on either wing and the ever willing Brendan Matthew linking play from the front. Every break carried a threat. On 14 minutes from an easily cleared Dorchester corner, Wes Daly fed Stead who played a long diagonal pass to pick out Matthew on the right. The striker shaped as if to head for the byline before cutting back on goal. He easily rounded the advancing Nick Hutchings but with the keeper floundering and defenders struggling to challenge his finish from 8 yards lacked composure and was straight at Egan on the goal line who made a tumbling clearance.
Stead was then involved at the other end as he matched the overlapping Egan stride for stride into the box the pace defender went to ground dramatically and team mates and fans demanded a penalty. Referee Stuart Kane was unmoved and awarded a corner which Nathan Walker headed over under pressure from Luke Neville.
At the other end, Stead again involved, fed Minhas whose low pull back was met by Matthew, the angle of his run carried him beyond the near post and he could not get his foot around the ball to deliver a strike on target and as the keeper advanced his effort flew wide. At this point, albeit briefly, you began to wonder if it was going to be another one of ‘those day’ on the road for The Rams? Especially as the hosts then enjoyed their best spell of the game. That said, although they enjoyed the lions share of possession and forced a succession of corners in a sustained spell of pressure, Constable and the defence in front of him remained largely unextended. The home side played tidy controlled football largely in front of their opponents. They threatened down the flanks but ultimately failed to create any clear-cut chances.
Having weathered the storm Beaconsfield went in front on 38 minutes. Wes Daly picked up a clearance in midfield and fed Matthew. The striker had space to drive into but elected to play a return ball to the skipper before bending his run to the left where he picked up possession again. As the defence adjusted to the left Aaron Minhas ghosted in off the back of the last defender, Matthews cross found him in acres of space but kicked up off the artificial surface. Minhas retained his composure, quickly brought it under control and fired home from 10 yards past the desperate outstretched leg of the advancing Huthchings.
Dorchester huffed and puffed and complained about everything for the remainder of the half but The Rams made it to half time largely without incident.
Half time 1-0
The second half began in the same vein. In the 50th minute Stead burst between two defenders to latch on to a clearance and slid in Matthew who was thwarted by an excellent save by Hutchings who advanced quickly and spread himself to make the block. It could have been a pivotal moment because the home side broke and the home fans were again baying for penalty as Aaron Rodriguez’s cross shot appeared to strike Omar Vassells trailing arm as the fullback slid in to block. It would have been very harsh but you’ve seen them given and next season they all will be! On this occasion Mr Kane was again unmoved.
In their next attack the tireless Ben Seymour, who worked hard all afternoon with precious little in the way of any service, set up Diaz but as he shaped to fire home from 12 yards Mayo Balogun slid in for a brilliant goal saving clearance.
On another afternoon either of those chances and possibly the result could have gone against The Rams but they rode their bit of luck and over the game probably earned it too.
The home side rang the changes with two substitutions but a minute later the Rams doubled their advantage. Thomas Gogo, encouraged by the bench, picked up possession in midfield and drove at Egan who managed to get the better of the exchange at the expense of a corner. Stead delivered the ball with pace to the near post where Brendan Matthew powered in a bullet from six yards as Hutchings was left flailing at thin air.
2-0 was probably a fairer reflection based on the quality of chances created and five minutes later the margin was increased as substitute Alex Cathline got on the end of a Mayo Balogun cross laying it back to Brendan Matthew who in turn fed Minhas on the edge of the box. His angled drive flew past the motionless Hutchings into the bottom corner.
The game was over as a contest but the late introduction of James Granger by the home side spiced up the remaining 15 minutes and suggested that the afternoon may have been a lot less comfortable had he had more of a run at it. His presence immediately lifted the home side and the crowd and within moments of his introduction they had their first serious effort on goal. A dipping volley from another substitute Tom Blair which drew an excellent flying save from Ravan Constable.
With the Rams seeing the game out, deep into injury time, Dorchester finally got their penalty. Stead was somewhat generously adjudged to have brought down Jackson. To be honest, it seemed the least likely foul of the three appeals. Presumably Mr Kane, who had a decent afternoon all in all, was operating a totting up system. Or may be he didn’t want to return to Saltash without giving the home side something. In any event, Blair rammed home the spot kick and that was pretty much that.
Dorchester 1 Rams 3
A deserved victory and a big step closer to safety with some good selection problems for manager Gary Meakin in terms of competition for places going forward.
Come on you Rams!
1. Nick Hutchings
2. Kyle Egan
3. Sam Jackman
4. Callum Rose
5. Nathan Walker
6. Harry Kite
7. Dom Penasar-Dower [Sub 15. James Granger]
8. Billy Lowes ©
9. Ben Seymour [ Sub 12. Tom Blair 62]
10. Antonio Diaz
11. Aaron Rodriguez [Sub 4. Neil Martin 62]
Subs Not Used:
13. Kingsley Latham [GK]
16. Josh Williams
Manager Callum Brooks
1. Ravan Constable
2. Omar Vassell
3. Mayowa Balogun
4. Jerome Ecclestone
5. Luke Neville
6. Wes Daly
7. Louis Stead
8. Dan Brown [Sub 12. Alex Nolan 67]
9. Brendan Matthew
10. Aaron Minhas
11. Charlie Losasso [Sub. Thomas Gogo 5]
[Sub 14. Alex Cathline 67]
Subs Not Used:
15. Billy Montague.
17. Jon-Jo Bates
Manager: Gary Meakin
Ref: Mr Stuart Kane [Saltash]
Assistants: Nicholas Eckland - Murat Kaymaz