Farnborough 2 - 0 Beaconsfield Town
Rams Man of the Match - Dan Brown
In form Farnborough stunned Beaconsfield with an early second half goal and the visitors never recovered, After creating enough first half opportunities to win two games The Rams never laid a glove on the hosts in the second half and conceded a second goal to cap a disappointing afternoon at the EasyasHGV Stadium.
A settled back four has been an integral part of The Rams recent successful run, with only one defeat, at league leaders Taunton, in their last seven outings. Already without Reece Yorke, who hobbled off in the draw at Walton Casuals, The Rams lost right back Omar Vassell in the warm up, promoting Callum Webb to the starting eleven.
The home side showed the shape of the afternoon to come in the third minute. Reggie Young, by some distance Farnborough’s best player on the day, picked up the ball in midfield as a Beaconsfield attack broke down. He drove forward and exploited the space left by the overlapping Mayo Balogun and played in Connor Cullen who narrowly beat Luke Neville to the byline and pulled back an enticing low cross which flashed across the face of goal just out of reach of Marc Charles-Smith.
As the half developed Beaconsfield established their football forcing the hosts back. Despite dominating possession, some overplaying, mis-judgements of the sticky surface and individual errors saw promising attacks falter, allowing, a well organised Farnborough to break swiftly with outlet balls to the flanks for the skilful Cullen and Young or to the head of the willing Charles-Smith who was able to bring others into the game with knock downs and hold up play.
So, whilst play was centred in the Farnborough half and The Rams created a succession of excellent chances the hosts were far from dominated and always looked likely to cause problems on the counter with pace and direct running at the heart of the Beaconsfield rearguard, even if their defence and keeper Liam Beech were at and beyond full stretch on a number of occasions.
A free kick routine which will be familiar to Rams fans almost brought the game’s first goal. Wes Daly’s chip forward found the head of Luke Neville in the right back area and his header across goal was met with a scramble of arms and legs at the far post before falling to Brendan Matthew six yards out. His left foot goal bound effort hit the outstretched thigh of Beach who spread himself well and closed down the striker to narrow the angle and deflect the ball to safety. The Rams pressed again and Mayo Balogun, prominent in the attacking third throughout, whipped in a teasing cross to the far post where Matthew and Louis Stead where converging but the desperate outstretched leg of Seth Owens diverted the ball over his own bar. From the resulting corner the ball fell edge to Matthew was fouled. Charlie Losasso’s resulting free kick was comfortable for Beach.
With Wes Daly and Dan Brown pulling the strings in the centre of midfield and with Connor Hunte a willing runner on the right of attack it seemed that it was only a matter of time before The Rams turned pressure into a lead. Beach had other ideas saving straightforward efforts from Louis Stead and Hunte before diving full length to turn another effort from Louis Stead around the post. From the corner Beach punched under pressure from Jordan Ajanlekoko and Brendan Matthew. His clearance fell to Wes Daly who struck a sweet drive on the rise from 20 yards. Beach reacted quickly to make a brilliant one handed save diving away to his right. The rebound was kept in by Hunte who played in a low cross which was met by Jordan Ajanlekoko but the ball skewed off his right foot and fell harmlessly wide with the goal at his mercy and Beach scrambling.
Though pressed back the home side continued to carry a threat, with Rob Bartley’s long throw ins a cause of some concern for The Rams defence though by and large Ravan Constable was his usual commanding self, claiming and punching well and was only extended once when spreading himself to block from Young in a one on one twelve yards from goal.
Chances continued at the other end with Luke Neville and Connor Hunte having efforts from distance which did not trouble Beach and Brendan Matthew getting a toe end to a ball he had no right to get anywhere near between too defenders and Beach but he could not generate enough purchase to steer the ball home.
After half an hour Farnborough finally enjoyed some sustained possession in the visitors half. Legget produced a pace cross from a free kick whipped in towards goal, back pedalling Mayowa Balogun deflected it away a corner narrowly ahead of Rob Bartley who seemed like the winner until the very last second. From the resulting corner Constable was unconvincing with his punch under pressure and was fortunate to see the ball skid away for a corner. The delivery this time was a low in swinger to the near post area Bartley and Neville both lunged for the ball with outstretched legs and between them sent in a goal bound effort that Constable pouched at the second attempt under pressure from Owens.
Now it was The Rams turn to play on the break and a counter on 40 minutes almost broke the deadlock. Charlie Losasso dispossessed Kurtis Cumberbatch in midfield and fed Wes Daly. The skipper played a beautifully weighted cross-field ball into the path of Connor Hunte who took it in stride on the left edge of the box and drove in on goal. As Beach advanced Hunte set himself before blazing a dragged left foot shot high and wide of the far post when a shaped right foot into the corner was probably what was needed.
Half time 0-0
In the second half it was apparent that Spencer Day had sent Farnborough on the offensive. They were more on the front foot and began to press the ball much higher up the pitch not allowing Beaconsfield the time and space they had enjoyed throughout the first half.
The more aggressive approach bore fruit on 49 minutes Beaconsfield gave the ball away cheaply as the played out from defence, Reggie Young played in Cullen down the right edge of the box with a delightful chip over the advancing defence. Cullen squared the ball across goal where Cumberbatch met the cross to fire past Constable.
Beaconsfield were rocked back by the goal and the change of style. Possession become more of a battle and opportunities were more hurried and less clean. Brendan Matthew continued to create difficulties for the home defence but neither he or his team mates could work a clear sight of goal with efforts blocked or deflected or potential final balls not running as they had in the first half.
It was no surprise when the home side extended their lead as a simple throw in was flicked on by Cumberbatch and collected by Cullen who beat Luke Neville to the dropping ball and fed Cumberbatch who strode into the box and smashed his and Farnborough’s second past Constable.
The contest was effectively over at that point but Young almost capped a fine afternoon moments later. Following a combination on the edge of the box he played in Cullen. The youngster thrashed a cross shot narrowly wide of the far post with Constable beaten.
Manager Gary Meakin rang the changes and used everything he had at his disposal sending on Bajram Pashaj, Jon-Jo Bates and Nathan Webb. Try as they might The Rams could not get themselves a foothold in the game and though they huffed and puffed their second half performance was a pale imitation of the first and Oyenga and Bartley at the heart of the Farnborough defence were never really extended in keeping the visitors at bay. Beach so busy in the first half was virtual spectator.
Having benefited from a team not taking their chances on Tuesday night the Rams were made to suffer for their own lack of ruthlessness in front of goal here.They now have a week to rest and recover from this hectic Christmas and New Year period before welcoming Hendon to Holloways Park next Saturday.
1. Ravan Constable
2. Callum Webb
3. Mayowa Balogun
4. Jordan Ajanlekoko
5. Luke Neville
6. Wes Daly © (Sub14 Nathan Webb 73)
7. Louis Stead (Sub 16 Jon-Jo Bates 57)
8. Dan Brown
9. Brendan Matthew
10. Connor Hunte
11. Charlie Losasso (Sub15 Bajram Pashaj 73)
Subs Not Used:
17: Ethan Holland
Manager: Gary Meakin
1. Liam Beach
2. Matt Bevans
3. Seth Owens
4. John Oyenuga
5. Rob Bartley
6. Kurtis Cumberbatch
7. Tom Leggett
8. Elliot Bonds
9. Marc Charles-Smith © (Sub 12 Tony Halsey 69)
10. Connor Cullen
11. Reggie Young
Subs Not Used:
14. Michael Fernandes
15. Michael Kamara
16. Aaron Oakley
17. CJ Fearn
Manager: Spencer Day
Ref: Mr Jack Bonnick
Assistants: Mr Tolga Inanc - Mr James Field