In a closely contested and hard-fought game, Sholing and Beaconsfield Town played out a 0-0 draw at the Imperial Homes Stadium.
The match was characterised by key incidents, in each half, keeping both sets of fans on the edge of their seats in a gripping if not particularly high-quality encounter.
Beaconsfield were the better team in the first period, enjoying good possession and establishing their passing and movement but found the home defence, well organised and combative so the visitors created little in the way of direct opportunities despite their level of control.
The main talking point of the first half came as Sholing's centre-back, Owen Roundell-Prince, found himself at the centre of the only contentious decision referee Jake Hiller had to make all afternoon.
Leggat managed to escape a potential straight red card when his deliberate handball denied Jake Gosling what seemed a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
The defender sticking out an arm to prevent Asher Yearwood’s cross-field pass reaching Gosling who would have had a clear run in on goal from the edge of the box.
Mr Hiller decided a caution was appropriate. Whatever his reasoning it would be difficult to argue that the decision, in a game so close, didn’t have a very significant impact on the final outcome.
Half Time 0-0
The second half saw Rams striker Tom McElroy creating a notable chance from the edge of the area. However, his shot was deflected and expertly saved by Joshua Gould, who quickly adjusted his feet and made an acrobatic tip over the bar. For all Beaxconsfield’s possession, It was the only serious save Gould was required to make all afternoon as defences dominated.
At the other end Matt Rowley was largely untroubled, barring one late rush of blood to the head which saw the young keeper charge from his line in an attempt to claim a long through ball. Misjudging the bounce he found himself stranded as the ball bounced over him but his defenders saved his blushes and snuffed out the opportunity which was as close as Sholing came in a second half where they huffed and puffed but struggled to make a dent on Luke Neville and Jacques Kpohomouh who were as immaculate under pressure here as they have been all season.
Neville’s effort here was particularly outstanding considering he showed particular courage, playing in a face mask to protect his face after breaking his nose in the win at Plymouth on Tuesday night.
In front of the defence Sean Fraser and Josh Payne held the centre ground screened the back four and launched transitions, with Dan Bradshaw looking more like a right back every week and James Dobson consistent on the left there is a growing sense of solidity about the Rams who in just under a month have transformed from a team who couldn’t win at any price to a compact competitive side who are growing as a team and a squad and have now not conceded for more than 360 minutes.
The game was meandering towards stalemate until the introduction of another of Tueasday nights stand out performers, substitute Adanioritsewo Okoroghye swung the game back towards Beaconsfield Town.
Okoroghye, who had been a revelation earlier in the week against Plymouth, continued where he left off and proved to be a handful for the Sholing defense.
His introduction injected a new dynamic into the game, and he posed a continuous threat, keeping the home defence on their toes.
His industry and application helped create chances for others but neither Dan Bradshaw, Asher Yearwood or Jake Gosling were able to test Gould with their efforts.
It was Okoroghye himself who very nearly nicked the points for the Rams but somehow his far post downward header from Five yards managed to bounce over the Sholing cross bar.
Despite the late surge from Beaconsfield Town couldnt find the break through that their performance probably merited.
In the final analysis though slightly disappointed with the single point.
Jon Underwood was happy to admit afterwards that, given a second tricky fixture inside a week, away from home, against another physical, well organised and competitive opponent, on an uneven and somewhat bumpy surface that added an extra layer of difficulty, that he and his team would probably have accepted a 0-0 draw beforehand.
The Rams now have a week to recover and prepare for the visit of Hayes and Yeading to Holloways Park.
All images © Neale Blackburn Photography 2024
Match Facts - https://southern-football-league.co.uk/match/m/126448/squad/