Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South
Saturday 15th April 2023
Beaconsfield Town 3 North Leigh 3
Holloways Park - Attendance 97
Ram of the match - Luke Neville
The Rams came from behind three times at Holloways Park on Saturday to secure a point against strugglers North Leigh who may feel hard done to by the result and the manner of the final equaliser.
That said they had enough chances in a lively first half to win two games but some last-ditch defending, poor finishing and luck, deserting, as it often does when you’re fighting for your life at the bottom.
As early as the 3rd minute Conor McDonagh, who was a bustling handful all afternoon, turned smartly on the edge of the box, in the inside right channel and beat Cairo Richards with a flashing low drive. The young keeper, who was due a bit of luck of his own after something of a baptism of fire over Easter, was relieved to see the effort cannon away off the base of his far post to be cleared.
The visitors continued to press and McDonagh again went close, rising well ahead of the near post to send in a flicked header that was comfortably saved at his near post by Richards.
North Leigh had started like a team fighting for survival whilst Beaconsfield, no strangers to slow starts at home this season started like a team already on the beach. The visitors didn’t have to wait long to get their noses in front.
Craig Hewitt, who was almost unplayable until leaving the field in the 89th minute. Stepped in off the right wing and was allowed to meander across the eighteen yard line before curling a delicious effort past Richards as defenders belatedly tried to close him down.
The home side were defending at full stretch. Luke Neville blocked another McDonagh effort, Toby Little cleared off the line after a scrambled attempted clearance ricocheted towards goal as North Leigh piled on the pressure but The Rams survived and midway through the half began to show signs of life. Dan Bradshaw in particular was lively down the right flank and almost equalised after a clever one-two with Elliott Buchanan which freed Bradshaw to fire in a low effort from 12 yards and brought a plunging low save from Adam North.
Two minutes later The Rams were level when Luke Neville was allowed to spin to the far post and head home Littles’ deep corner after good pressure from Nathan Minhas forced Leon Morrison to concede the kick.
The parity lasted less than 10 minutes. As Rams fans were enjoying their team's resurgence and waiting for them to build on the equaliser, a loose pass in midfield sprang a North Leigh counter and The Rams hadn’t learned their lesson as the ball arrived at Adriel George in the inside left position. He was allowed to calmly pick his spot from 18 yards shaping a firm low pass into the bottom corner as defenders were again slow to engage.
George went from hero to villain as he was then culpable at the other end, creating the opportunity for Beaconsfield's’ second equaliser
Selling his skipper Jack Alexander woefully short with a square pass 30 yards from goal allowing the lively Bradshaw to dispossess Alexander who fell as he stretched for the misplaced pass. Bradshaw burst into the box, shaped as if to shoot before squaring for Nathan Minhas to bundle home off the luckless North who saved the striker's first effort at point-blank range only to see it rebound back off the striker and into the net.
There was still time after Bradshaw was helped from the field with a suspected knee injury, for The Millers to retake the lead. Hewitt who will figure large in Callum Webbs’ nightmares danced in off the left wing into the area and as Togwell and the advancing Richards converged on him he beat both and slid his low shot inches wide of the far post.
Half Time 2-2
Beaconsfield were better in the second half more compact and better in possession moving forward.
Olly Sprague was introduced at left-back with Toby Little moving to the right flank ahead of Webb, in place of Kai Allsop, who struggled to make an impact after switching wings when Bradshaw was substituted.
For all that North Leigh were less rampant than the first period The Rams still conceded a soft third. The Millers went ahead again after Callum Webb was judged to have brought down Hewitt who won the penalty by getting his body between the fullback and the ball just inside the box, he waited for contact and went down when it was supplied. Then got up to calmly convert the resulting spot-kick.
Kyel Reid replaced Elliott Buchanan and immediately had an influence in possession with his close control and direct running asking questions of the visiting back four.
Nathan Minhas saw a shot from the edge of the area rebound off North and fall in front of the big keeper who was fortunate that Antoine Makoli following up could only toe poke the rebound straight back into the big keepers arms.
Makoli blasted over when well placed at the far post and Minhas sent a looping header over the bar and on to the roof of the net as The Rams pressed and time ticked away.
Olly Sprague’s cross-field pass picked out Sam Granville who slid a pass inside the full-back for the overlapping Little who let fly from a narrow an angle.
North will feel he should have done better as the driven low shot squirted under his body and in.
North Leigh did their best to lift themselves again but Little almost won it for The Rams deep into added time. Picking up possession twenty yards out to the right of centre he sent in a trademark curling effort which dipped and fizzed past North before flashing inches wide.
Some measure of Justice for North Leigh who will not unreasonably feel they should probably have won the game and a point was the very least their first-half display in particular deserved.
Credit to Beaconsfield for battling and believing and grinding out the point. You can't say they haven’t entertained the crowds at Holloways Park this season.
Beaconsfield Town :
Cairo Richards,, Callum Webb, Toby Little©, Sam Togwell, Luke Neville, Lewis Pegg, Dan Bradshaw [Sub Antoine Makoli 43], Sam Granville, Nathan Minhas, Elliott Buchanan [Sub Kyel Reid 65] Kai Allsopp, [Sub Olly Sprague 54]
Subs Not Used - Charlie Smith, Lucas Sinclair
North Leigh :
Adam North, Malcolm Nicholls, Jack Alexander©, Leon Morrison [Sub Declan Peart 80], Owen Dore, Aaron Heap, Adriel George, Amer Awadh [Sub Lance Williams 87], Jordan Thomas, Craig Hewitt [Sub Twariq Yusuf 89], Connor McDonagh.
Subs Not Used - Michael Hopkins, Niko Nenonen-Millar,
Referee - Morgan Conn
Assistants - Luke Burford - Stephen Williams.
All images ©Neale Blackburn 2023