Southern Premier League Southern Division
Beaconsfield Town 1 Hartley Wintney 2
A dank and dismal autumn evening at Holloway’s Park was matched by the drab fare served up by The Rams and Hartley Wintney on Tuesday night as Beaconsfield returned to Bet Victor Southern League action after losing the trip to Poole on Saturday to the weather.
Manager Gary Meakin certainly wasn’t resting during the week off, bolstering the squad by bringing in two former Rams, Sean Fraser and last season’s Player of the Year Louis Stead, both of whom went straight into the starting line-up for the visit of Hartley Wintney who have proved to be something of a bogey side for The Rams of late.
The visitors began brightly and enjoyed the lion’s share of early possession in the opening quarter with Salhin Abubakar taking the eye wide on the right and skipper Tyron Smith establishing a combative, in your face, early presence at the heart of the midfield. The home side took some time to get into their stride but for all the visitor’s possession, Myles Bowman in the home goal was barely extended beyond scampering to cover some dangerous looking crosses. As the half went on, despite having a measure of control the visitors played most of their football in front of the home team who coped comfortably enough without ever looking comfortable in possession. So essentially one side who couldn’t retain possession faced up against another who couldn’t do much with it. Not exactly a recipe for a spectacle.
The most notable incident of an undistinguished first half concerned another injury to the unfortunate Bajram Pashaj. The Rams wide man missed much of last season after being slammed into the perimeter wall and sustaining serious arm injuries. Here he was forced to leave the field after catching his foot in the turf. The sickening audible pop as his knee twisted suggesting there may be another lengthy rehab lay off and although he was able to limp from the pitch he was unable to make to the treatment room at half time without considerable help. Hopefully it looked worse than it actually was and he will be back to training soon.
Sad to report the lack of sympathy the injury received from one of his opponents who declared his principle concern was getting the stretcher on and getting on with the game without a word of sympathy or apparent concern for his injured opponent. I know empathy is apparently unfashionable these days but I’d be ashamed if any Rams player conducted themselves in that manner.
After the injury, the half meandered to a scrappy conclusion.
Beaconsfield came more into the game in the attacking third but Thomas Williams in the visiting goal was never extended as a strangely shot-shy home attack too often elected to take an extra touch when well placed. Or seek out another pass in circumstances where a shot seemed a more viable option.
Reece Yorke threatened getting on the end of two Louis Stead crosses and directing them back into the danger area but each fell wide without a colleague managing to apply a finishing touch.
Half time 0-0
The second half began with a bang or at least Hartley Wintney did as Beaconsfield struggled to get up to speed. With their first attack the visitors forced a corner and Alexandru Albert met it cleanly eight yards out, heading low beyond the despairing dive of Myles Bowman. The first serious effort on target by either side producing the first goal. Whatever the visitors had in their half time tea and Anthony Millerick’s half time team talk certainly seemed to be paying dividends as the visitors pressed to drive home their advantage and seek a speedy second.
Smith had a free kick from distance brilliantly turned away by Bowman leaping full length and high to his right. As in the first half though possession and pressure, although more fluent and apparently threatening, repeatedly floundered on a resolute home defence.
Meanwhile, with the introduction of Jordan Ajanlekoko, Beaconsfield were beginning to offer more of an attacking presence but without looking particularly threatening either. Too often the final ball picked out a defender, was over hit, misplaced or not played at all.
As the half wore on the visitors were increasingly happy to manage the game, manage possession, keep their discipline and shape and handle their opponents with a degree of comfort.
With time running out Tyrell Mitford, who had survived on scraps all night, created a chance out of nothing making just enough space to put in a curling right foot 20-yard effort which nicked off a closing defender before being turned away by Williams. 78 minutes gone and finally a goal bound effort to extend the keeper.
The next such effort came a moment later and this time the rebound from an acrobatic Williams block fell to Brendan Matthew who flashed in the equaliser.
Now with their tails up. The home side scented that they may be able to push on in the last 10 minutes and sneak an unlikely winner. As it turned out their enthusiasm to score a second rather than securing a hard-won point proved to be their undoing.
As AJ set off on a trademark forward run Wes Daly’s attempted through pass was cut out and the visitors sprang into the attack. With The Rams caught on their heels The Row, in the shape of Tom Bird, pounced. Left back Bird having started the move continued his run into the box where he met a well-placed low cross which he swept home to secure the win.
Hard to argue it was a fair enough result in a largely undistinguished and drab encounter. Probably a little harsh on The Rams who had battled back well to equalise. No time to dwell though as the games come thick and fast at this time of year.
Next up Merthyr at Holloways Park on Saturday.
1. Myles Bowman
2. Sean Fraser
3. Mayo Balogun
4. Reece Yorke
5. Luke Neville
6. Wes Daly ©
7. Louis Stead
8. Ade Shokunbi (Sub14.Jordan Ajanlekoko 56)
9. Tyrell Mitford
10. James McCluskey (Sub15. Jon Jo Bates 81)
11. Bajram Pashaj (Sub17.Brendan Matthew 22)
Subs Not Used:
12. Alex Nolan
16. Kane Guy-Seifert
Manager: Gary Meakin
1. Thomas Williams
2. Louie Paget
3. Tom Bird
5. Shane Hollamby
6. Alexandru Albert
7. Salhin Abubakar
8. Tyron Smith
9.Dean Rule (Sub14. Mitchell Rooke 90)
10.Adam Cornell (16. Mickel Platt 74)
11. Joshua Webb (Sub15.Stephen Duff 81)
Subs Not Used:
12. Jordan Stepney
Manager: Anthony Millerick
Ref: Alexander Emery - Assistants Andrew Batten – Andreas Anastasiou