Harrow Borough 1 Beaconsfield Town 2
Rams Man of the Match - WES DALY
Beaconsfield Town finally got off the mark in league action with a hard fought 2-1 win at Harrow Borough on Tuesday evening.
The early signs were not promising for the Rams though.
Still smarting after their home mauling at the hands of Wimborne they arrived at Harrow Borough without Saturday’s Man of The Match Myles Bowman, stricken by a bout of food poisoning. Gary Meakin was somewhat forced into handing a debut to the untried Borja Loeches in goal.
With skipper Wes Daly restored to the midfield The Rams navigated the opening skirmishes without too much alarm and the debutant keeper was not much involved until the eighth minute.
Advancing from his area to challenge Ryan Moss he made a brave clearance narrowly ahead of the onrushing attacker who clattered into him collapsing to the turf in a whinging heap.
Despite the obvious path of the ball and the laws of basic physics clearly indicating that the keeper had arrived first and completed the clearance the histrionics of Moss and a gaggle of his colleagues convinced referee Mr Warren that there had been a foul by the keeper who was then booked to add insult to injury.
The resulting free kick produced a decent delivery to the far post, where it was headed over. Unlike most of Boroughs set pieces in the first quarter which were overplayed and came to nothing much to the vocal frustration of the home support.
In the seventeenth minute the home side finally hit upon the route to success. A throw in routine freed Frank Keita whose cross cleared Reece Yorke at the near post and allowed Ryan Moss to get ahead of Alex Nolan to direct a close-range downward header past Loeches who remained rooted to his line.
Anyone who has watched much of The Rams this season could be forgiven for fearing the worst at that point. Especially after Saturday.
Borough though were no Wimborne and although they poured forward, with the slope and breeze in their favour in the first half, Beaconsfield remained resolute.
A combination of stout defending and a tendency for the home side to overplay reduced clear chances in open play.
Set pieces though were a different proposition, with Loeches and his shielding defenders looking increasingly uncomfortable as the half wore on.
A combination of last ditch defending - Mayowa Balogun twice blocking goal bound efforts - luck and disastrous finishing prevented the home side adding to their lead as they set about bullying the visitors into submission. Shaun Preddie in particular was guilty of missing two clear opportunities as he became an increasingly muscular presence in the six yard box.
For all the home sides dominance, Beaconsfield could have been level at half time as Shawnikki Clement-Peter, lively all evening down the right , beat his defender and drove in a low cross. Brendan Matthew slid in at the far post and although he managed to get studs to the ball he was agonisingly unable to get enough purchase to steer it into the net.
Half time 1-0
With the elements and geography in their favour Beaconsfield set off in the second half on the front foot and by and large stayed there for the rest of the evening.
Loeches was a virtual spectator for long periods as Wes Daly, Jordan Ajanlekoko and Ade Shokunbi took the midfield by the scruff of the neck, with Bajram Pashaj and Balogun linking on the left to terrorise George Moore, so prominent last week in a forward role now often exposed by his collegues and bypassed by Pashaj.
Despite a number of promising openings Brendan Matthew and Shawnikki Clement-Peter could just not get the run of the ball or the benefit of the bounce.
When Matthew in particular did get free, a trigger happy linesman judged the pacey forward offside. On two occasions to say these were marginal decisions would be hugely kind to the official.
As time wore on it was starting to feel like another one of those days! The home side became increasingly niggly and ‘game management’ was turned up to Eleven as they dawdled their way through every restart.
They too seemed to feel they simply had to hold on to their lead and see out the game.
The game turned in the 77th minute, Jordan Ajanlekoko burst into the box and as he let fly he was clumsily bundled aside by George Fenton and the ball skewed behind. The assistant flagged for a goal kick which put Mr Warren in a difficult position.
Of the decisions available for this incident goal kick wasn’t one of them. If the officials adjudged Fenton made a fair challenge it should be a corner. If he didn’t get any ball it should be a penalty.
At full speed it looked like a penalty. To be honest reviewing the images later there were people in the car park nearer the ball than Fenton.
After a conference the officials compromised or bottled out depending on your allegiance. They settled on a corner. This was aimed at the near post and headed clear where it was collected by Mayowa Balogun. Borough committed the cardinal sin of pushing out without pressuring the ball. This then gave Balogun time to send in an in-swinging cross which was met by substitute Tyrell Mitford who had slipped past the advancing back line and found himself in splendid isolation seven yards out. He held his composure and met the cross with a downward flick header past Al-Droubi .
Borough were unhappy about the corner award and continued to complain whilst trying to raise themselves to their first half heights but The Rams had the scent of an unlikely win in their nostrils and continued to press.
In the 84th Minute The Rams went ahead as a speculative forward ball caught the defence on the turn and Mitford was first to the bouncing ball which he steered over the advancing Al-Droubi .
A veritable game of two halves. Borough should really have been out of sight at half time. They failed to capitalise on their set piece dominance and allowed their opponents to regroup at half time and take over the game. They will look back on a second half where they failed to mount a single significant effort on the visitors goal.
For The Rams the result was everything. When you lose seven on the bounce you can be forgiven for wondering if you’re going to win again. No doubt the second half performance merited the result. Now with the league win monkey off their back they can look forward to the visit of high flying Hemel Hempstead Town in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday afternoon. At this level the challenges just keep on coming.
1. Borja Loeches
2. Alex Nolan
3. Mayowa Balogun
4. Reece Yorke
5. Luke Neville
6. Wes Daly
7. Jordan Ajanlekoko
8. Ade Shokunbi
9. Brendan Matthew [Sub Kane Guy-Seifert 87]
10.Shawnikki Clement-Peter [Sub 16 Tyrell Mitford 72]
11. Bajram Pashaj [Sub 14.James McCluskey 91]
Manager: Gary Meakin
1. Hafed Al-Droubi
2.George Moore (Sub Josh Andrew, 74)
3. Chinua Cole
4. George Fenton(Sub Kunle Otuaeko 86)
9. Anthony O’Connor (Sub: Excellence Muhemba, 80)
Manager: Steve Baker