Beaconsfield Town will face few opponents that come close to the quality of the Hayes and Yeading United team who they entertained at their latest temporary home at Kings Langley on Monday night.
The league leaders came into the game with the only 100% record left in the Southern League Premier Southern Division up against a Rams team fresh from a disappointing trip to Merthyr.
While there was certainly the feel of a free hit about the fixture, early signs were hardly encouraging for fans arriving at the Orbital Fasteners Stadium, with news that skipper Scott Donnelly was on the bench and doubtful to take part, sidelined through illness, and keeper Alex Tokarczyk completely ruled out with a hamstring strain.
Faced with a growing injury list Gary Meakin had attempted to bring in replacements on loan over the bank holiday weekend. Unfortunately two players from Barnet were unable to join the matchday squad because the necessary paperwork was not completed by the FA to allow the loan moves to be confirmed before kick-off.
Meakin was able to include Scott Davies, on loan from Slough Town, who deputised in midfield for the stricken Donnelly while The Rams were forced to turn to New York resident and equity trader Michael Neish, who has been training with the squad while in The City of London for work, to keep goal.
Both men acquitted themselves very well on the night with Davies narrowly pipping the stopper for The Rams outstanding player.
Hayes too had their own keeper problems but brought in former Rams favourite Ravan Constable who showed he has lost none of the ability he displayed when he was a regular at Holloways Park.
Neish was into the action early, dealing well with an Omar Rowe free kick which threat- ened to dip under the bar. A straightforward save but a good early confidence booster.
The Rams then threatened as Davies driving run through the heart of midfield created an early opportunity for Jeﬀerson Louis whose eﬀort was deflected wide for a corner, best described as disappointing.
We were given an indication of the quality of the opposition as they broke fluently moving the ball accurately at pace culminating in a Francis Amartey eﬀort blocked behind by Marcus Johnson-Schuster.
From the resulting corner Hayes deployed a well practiced routine creating space for Hassan Jalloh on the edge of the box who drove in a low shot which seemed to deflect oﬀ an attempted defensive block flying into the roof of the net.
After recent results and now falling behind after 12 minutes to very strong opposition you feared the worst for The Rams.
To their credit Beaconsfield battled hard and showed a really good spirit with Davies snapping into tackles, recycling possession and pulling the strings in midfield, driving them forward. Ahead of him, Jeﬀerson Louis led the line in a fashion that continues to defy the years, with strike partner Tyrone Lewthwaite oﬀering pace power and athleticism.
It was Lewthwaite who came closest to levelling before the break reacting first to his own knock down whipping in a dipping angled volley from 25 yards which flashed narrowly past the angle of post and bar with Constable beaten.
At the back Olly Sprague and Jordan Aghatise show signs of an understanding and with the eﬀort and industry of Alex Lafleur and the quiet authority of Johnson-Shuster the de- fensive unit coped well with the obvious challenge of highly mobile and pacey attacking opponents. When Hayes did fashion chances Neish was equal to the challenge, most notably when turning a looping Benedict Frempah header onto the top of the bar.
That said though Moses Emmanuel could and probably should have doubled the lead five minutes before the break. Omar Rowe capitalised on a poor touch in midfield to advance and present the striker with a golden opportunity but he blazed his eﬀort over the bar when it seemed easier to score.
Half Time 0-1
The second half followed a very similar pattern. Beaconsfield started brightly and enjoyed some pressure without testing Constable and Neish was called into action to block eﬀorts from Francis Amartey and Emmanuel as the game progressed at 100 miles an hour.
Beaconsfield continued to battle and enjoyed good possession but lacked the cutting edge to seriously trouble a very well drilled Hayes defence. When that defence and com- bative midfield is complimented by a ruthlessness up front you have to make the most of the scraps they oﬀer. On the night Beaconsfield couldn’t and it was no surprise when the visitors extended their lead in the 55th minute.
Johnson-Schuster appeared to be shoved under a header that he initially seemed hot favourite to win.The ball fell to Amartey who advanced at pace to the corner of the penal- ty area where he was able to create half a yard before flashing his right footed shot past Neish and into the top corner.
That was pretty much that. Beaconsfield continued to battle and defended with discipline and spirit but Constables only save of note came from a Davies free kick which he himself had won drawing a foul at the end of a driving run through midfield traﬃc.
Less indulgent refereeing may have seen Hayes reduced to ten men as Omar Rowe al- ready booked before hauling down Davies, received a further warning for kicking the ball away and then, two minutes later, caught Lafleur late as the full back threatened to breeze by him.
Meakin introduced Kearney for Louis and Toby Little and Callum Webb replaced the Min- has brothers who toiled hard all evening without ever really escaping the shackles of the visitor’s strong defence.
Neish was called upon in the sweeper keeper role as the game meandered to a finish but opposite number Constable was not extended beyond a couple of towering claims of crosses.
Hayes and Yeading march on and if they stay healthy you would expect they will be very adjacent to the top come May. They are comfortably the best team The Rams have faced for a couple of years.
Ultimately they were undone by a well worked set piece and a moment of individual brilliance. They defended stoutly, battled hard in the midfield and persevered up front without really creating enough opportunities to really threaten or sustain their challenge.
They are hopeful that some of their current absentees will be back to full health for the weekend and that they will be able to find the spark they need in front of goal.
Up next, on Saturday at 3pm, The Rams will be borrowing Chalfont St Peters home for the visit of Walton and Hersham in the FA Cup.
Subs not used
Manager: Gary Meakin
Hayes and Yeading
Subs Not Used
Manager: Paul Hughes