Monday 24th October 2022
Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South
Beaconsfield Town 0 v 1 Winchester City
Holloways Park - Attendance - 120
Ram of the Match - Charlie Smith
Rams fall to a sucker punch but have only themselves to blame
Winchester City pulled off the ultimate smash and grab at Holloways Park on Monday night, centre half Callum Chugg scoring with their one-second-half effort on target as the hosts Beaconsfield Town did literally everything but score in a game they largely dominated from the kick-off.
Despite a second defeat in two days, The Rams can take some heart from this performance. No doubt that would be an easier task with some points to show for it but there was a lot to like about last night's performance where, at times, they played as well as they have all season. Dominating possession, firmly on the front foot, playing with pace and precision, creating numerous chances.
With Aaron Minhas failing a late fitness test on a knee knock and brother Nathan rested after carrying the Tiverton back four around on his back for 90 minutes on Saturday, Manager Gary Meakin also rested Toby Little while retaining Charlie Smith at right back. This despite Callum Webb, one appearance away from his Rams century, being available.
Sam Granville and Dan Bradshaw introduced youth and enthusiasm into the midfield anchored superbly by skipper Sam Togwell who had another excellent game snuffing out danger in front of the back four and managing transitions. Elliott Buchanan linked with Eitel Goueth up front and the pair combined in the opening moments to almost give The Rams the lead.
The opening was fashioned by Buchanan receiving the ball in the hole. On the half turn, he slid a delightfully weighted pass inside left back Josh Bertie into the path of Eitel Goueth. His early angled effort was well struck but equalled by the full length save from Jordi Valero Miret in the Winchester goal who turned it behind for a corner.
From the corner, Sam Togwell ghosted beyond the far post and sent in an angled volley which struck centre-back, Archie Wilcox, on the arm. It would possibly be harsh to call for handball initially as although his hands were out in front of him, he had no real time to react. However, he then fell forwards with the ball between his outstretched forearms before turning the ball around the post in the subsequent melee. Miret would have been pleased with the effort.
When Skipper Togwell enquired of the ref as to the possibility of handball, the enigmatic response was,
“Ask the player who had the shot he will know what happened”. ?
Hard to have too much confidence when the official had no response when Togwell pointed it out it was he himself who had had the shot.
They aren’t getting any better.
No matter. The Rams were on top and continued to press, with Granville and Togwell snapping into tackles in midfield driving them forward while Bradshaw and McCoy looked lively on the flanks.
In the ninth minute, Goueth and Olly McCoy combined in the centre of midfield before McCoy, looking much more like his old self here, played in Elliott Buchanan on the left flank. The striker’s pullback fell to the on-rushing McCoy who fired a first-time shot past Miret to give The Rams a deserved lead. Except that the linesman belatedly decided that Buchanan was offside when receiving the initial ball. Observers on his side disagreed, suggesting it was more a matter of in an offside position when the ball arrived but probably not when it was played. The lack of any appeal for it from any of the visitors back Four probably strengthens that suspicion
The Rams continued on the front foot and forced a succession of corners creating panic stations in the Winchester defence without crafting any clearcut opportunities to worry Miret.
Until on the half-hour Goueth picked up the ball 40 yards out following another Rams corner. He set off on a trade mark, driving, mazey run which took him past three defenders and up to the corner of the six-yard box. His pullback evaded everyone travelling the width of the goal where it was met by Liam McDevitt who remained forward after the corner. He was denied by a sliding challenge from Warren Bentley, back helping his defence.
Winchester though under pressure did manage sporadic forward forays getting the ball forward quickly and looking for set-piece opportunities. The few opportunities they created in open play failed to extend Ravan Constable who made a routine save from a Mlambo shot from distance.
As halftime approached they gave notice of the threat they possessed from dead balls. Liam McDevitt did well to hold off Callum Chugg at the far post as he bore down on an in-swinging Jamie Barron delivery.
As halftime approached the pattern was starting to look uncomfortably familiar for Rams fans. Domination without goals against a side whose principal threat was set pieces.
Half Time 0-0
The Rams started the second half as they had finished the first without creating a clear-cut opportunity.
McCoy continued to threaten down the left but colleagues were unable to capitalise on the service, Miret had to be alert to beat Goueth to an under hit back pass and then stretched well to cut out another low cross from McCoy.
As the home fan's anxiety grew Chugg punished them.
Another inswinging free kick was delivered with pace across the box it eluded Benley’s stretch but reached Chugg who hammered it home from the corner of the six-yard box.
The remaining half hour was by and large Beaconsfield laying siege to the visitor's goal. The excellent Smith became more of an attacking threat, overlapping and linking with Bradshaw and it was the full-back's run into the box and pullback that ultimately lead to The Ram's lifeline.
He picked out Sam Granville who saw his effort blocked. The block fell to Bradshaw who wriggled past two defenders and drove towards goal before being upended by a combination of substitute Dan Neild and Jamie Baron.
Kyel Reid, who was introduced after the goal along with Nathan Minhas, stepped up to take the penalty.
As Beaconsfield fans were allowing themselves to think that this was the opportunity to break the log jam and go on to win the game, Reid’s spot kick was saved by Miret tumbling away to his right.
All penalty saves are good saves but it wasn't a great penalty from a player of Reid's experience.
Again Beaconsfield continued to press and Winchester scrapped with all their might to keep the hosts at bay.
Eitel Goueth hit a post with a rising drive. Keano Robinson saw a towering header cleared off the line and Minhas, Reid and Bradshaw had efforts blocked.
It was almost inconceivable that Beaconsfield wouldn’t score but on the night they didn’t.
On the night luck deserted them as decisions, deflections, last-ditch defending and eventually poor finishing undid them.
Winchester showed great spirit and togetherness and rode their luck to come out on top but if both sides continue to play like this it's going to be a long old winter.
A rest from league action at the weekend now beckons, as The Rams welcome Truro City to Holloways Park for the First Round of the Isuzu FA Trophy on Saturday.
Ravan Constable, Charlie Smith Oliver Sprague, Liam McDevitt, Keano Robinson, Sam Togwell©[Sub Toby Little], Dan Bradshaw, Sam Granville Elliott Buchannan [Sub Nathan Minhas], Eitel Goueth, Olly McCoy [Sub Kyel Reid]
Subs Not used – Jerome Eccleston, Callum Webb
Jordi Valero Miret, Claudio Herbert, Joshua Beretie, Max Smith, Archie Wilcox, Callum Chugg, Henry Brooks, (Sub: Daniel Nield, 51), Jamie Barron, Darko Obeng, Simba Mlambo, IK Hill (Sub: Robert Jamison, 71)
Subs - Charlie Philpott, Daniel Walters, Warren Bentley
Images subject to copyright © Neale Blackburn Photography 2022