Beaconsfield Town 1 Weymouth 0
Rams Man of the Match – Ravan Constable
Before the game against Beaconsfield Town on Saturday Weymouth had never scored in a competitive fixture at Holloways Park. Previous visits to face Hayes & Yeading and Slough Town saw them leave scoreless on every occasion. After a furious final ten minutes here, with a missed penalty, a shot off a post and a flying Ravan Constable save, they will head home to Dorset wondering how on earth they didn’t manage to break that duck while they will feel aggrieved to leave with no points either.
That said, the late flurry as they searched for the equaliser should not diminish the credit due to Gary Meakin’s Rams. Well drilled and marshalled by Reece Yorke at the back and the ever tidy Wes Daly in the middle of a five man midfield, the home side produced a gutsy, compact and disciplined performance to frustrate their high flying opponents with a high press and swift counter attacking the league leaders had difficulty getting to grips with for long periods.
Whilst Weymouth enjoyed a lot of possession, particularly in the first half, it was largely in front of the well organised Rams who were happy to remain compact out of possession, snapping in challenges in the midfield to reduce the opportunity for the visitors to dominate. Strikers Ben Thompson and Brandon Goodship worked hard to stretch the back four and with the assistance of Abdulai Baggie and Yemi Odubade on the flanks backed up by overlapping full backs Calvin Brooks and Jordan Ngalo the visitors did have some joy down the wings but the delivery lacked the quality needed to trouble The Rams defence.
Thompson was at the heart of the first incident of note after 13 minutes. Played in by Goodship the striker cleverly used his body to run across Jerome Ecclestone, deputising at centre half for the injured Luke Neville, and drew a foul in a tangle of legs. Weymouth will clearly feel that Ecclestone was last man and should have been red carded. However Mr Creswick took the view that the tackle was an attempt to play the ball rather than a professional foul and booked the defender. In fairness it could have gone either way but the striker clearly knew he was not going to beat Ecclestone in a straight sprint and ran across him to make time for a shot or draw contact. Clever forward play but some way short of being denied a clear goalscoring opportunity by a deliberate and cynical challenge. It was a pity to see the official ringed by five Weymouth players vociferously seeking to influence his decision before he even spoke to Ecclestone. The free kick, in common with much of their forward play in the first half, came to nothing.
The visitors best chance came from another soft free kick awarded when Thompson went down rather easily in a challenge with Reece Yorke. A training ground move saw Baggie deliver the one cross of quality in the first half which Jake McCarthy headed straight at Ravan Constable who saved comfortably.
Fresh from two goals in the last home fixture Louis Stead was again to the fore for the home side with shots from distance, drawing a tumbling save from Tom McHale in the 31st minute and sending a low drive flashing narrowly wide of the post ten minutes later. In between the ever-industrious Jon-Jo Bates wriggled free of the attentions of Jake McCarthy and whipped in a snap shot which flew just wide after good work from Charlie Losasso and Brendan Matthew.
Half time 0-0
Beaconsfield began the second half on the front foot and almost punished the visitors who made a lethargic start to the second period. The Rams almost went ahead on 46 minutes when a Charlie Losasso free kick dipped late in front of the unconvincing McHale who let the effort bounce off him but a combination of Jon-Jo Bates and Brendan Matthew were unable to capitalise on the rebound.
The visitors were again baying for Jerome Ecclestones blood on 52 minutes as his block of a goal-bound Goodship effort appeared to strike his upper arm but as his hands were by his sides it’s difficult to see how he could have got them any more out of the way? A view shared by Mr Creswick who waved play on.
Goodship then saw a strong goal-bound effort blocked away by Reece Yorke putting his body on the line to divert the strikers effort over the bar to safety. A flurry of corners followed but resulted in few alarms until a promising counter attack from the home team foundered on a misplaced Jordan Ajanlekoko pass. Wakefields forward ball bisected Balogun and Constable and found Goodship who tried to guide his effort over the slightly marooned keeper who responded with a flying fingertip save.
The Rams then enjoyed their best spell of the second half possession though without really creating anything of note they managed to retain and recycle possession and took some of the pressure off the back four creating a chance for Reece Yorke from a Charlie Losasso corner but the big defender couldn’t direct has far post header on target.
At the other end Constable was again called into action on 66 minutes deflecting away a fierce rising drive from Yemi Odubade with the merest brush of a fingertip.
Two minutes later The Rams were ahead. Mayo Balogun stepped in off his wing and after initially seeming to be in two minds he set off on a run which was halted when he was fouled 35 yards from goal. Charlie Losasso stepped up and fired in a customary dipping delivery which cleared the wall and headed for the centre of the goal where McHale, arms raised, waited to make a straightforward save. Whether the keeper changed his mind late on, between catching or palming away only he will know. What he actually did was allow the shot to pass through his hands and on into the back of the net. Whether he misjudged the pace or was beaten with late shape on the ball, he will be filing this under ‘ones he’d like back’ As it was it will go down as a huge goalkeeping howler. Losasso wasn’t bothered as he celebrated with his delirious team mates.
Weymouth set about getting back into the game with spirit and application. Having arrived at Holloways Park with thoughts of being crowned champions they now found themselves a little over 20 minutes from a shock defeat. Mark Molesley sent on three subs to increase the attacking potential and The Rams were pressed back Goodship continued to find space and was again on target after 78 minutes but his shot, although on target, was a regulation push over the bar for Constable.
As Beaconsfield began to feel the effects of long periods without the ball Charlie Losasso and Jordan Ajanlekoko both went down with cramp and were replaced by Alex Cathline and Aaron Minhas whilst Jon-Jo Bates, who ran himself into the ground harrying and pressing, made way for Dan Brown as Gary Meakin sought to protect the lead with fresh legs and midfield nouse.
With two minutes left Weymouth were handed their route back to parity when Constable was adjudged to have brought down Yemi Odubade in the act of shooting over and Goodship stepped up to take the penalty. Constable offered the Grobbelar spaghetti legs and prowled his line as Goodship stepped up and dragged his spot kick wide of the keepers left hand post.
With their next attack Goodship played in Odubade who set himself, beat Constable with a cross shot that rebounded from the base of the post and was hacked away. Moments later Goodship ghosted beyond Ecclestone to meet a deep cross but could only guide his effort off target and over the bar.
Leaving with nothing was extremely harsh on Weymouth but sometimes it’s just not your day! The Rams rode their luck but it would be overstating it to say they were lucky to win. They had a game plan and competed toe to toe with the best team in the division and with results going their way elsewhere they are now secure in their Southern Premier status for another season.
Quite an achievement.
1. Ravan Constable
2. Alex Nolan
3. Mayowa Balogun
4. Jerome Ecclestone
5. Reece Yorke
6. Wes Daly
7. Louis Stead
8. Jordan Ajanlekoko [Sub17 Alex Cathline 89]
9. Brendan Matthew
10. Jon-Jo Bates [Sub 14 Dan Brown 83]
11. Charlie Losasso [Sub15 Aaron Minhas 81]
Subs Not Used:
12. Luke Neville
16. Thomas Gogo
Manager: Gary Meakin
1. Tom McHale
2. Calvin Brooks
3. Jordan Ngalo
4. Sam Sherring
5. Stephane Zubar [Sub15 Josh Carmichael 81]
6. Jake McCarthy ©
7. Yemi Odubade (Sub 14, Harry Baker, 88)
8. Josh Wakefield [Sub 12 Cameron Murray 70]
9. Ben Thompson
10. Brandon Goodship
11. Abdulai Baggie
Subs Not Used
13. Jack Martin
16. Ashley Wells
Manager: Mark Molesley
Ref: Mr Jonathan Creswick
Assistants: Mr Mike Coen - Mr Mark Edwards