Southern Premier League Southern Division
Frome Town 0 Beaconsfield Town 1
Rams Man of the Match - Mayo Balogun
Rams take big step towards safety with gritty win over struggling Robins
When you reach this point of the season, with the hounds of relegation snapping at your heals, the result is all that matters. Never mind the spectacle, just get the points. On that basis Tuesday nights battle with strugglers Frome Town was a resounding success. As a spectacle however, a number of factors combined to make this Beaconsfield’s least attractive outing for quite some time. A fixture that won’t live long in the memory.
Somerset is home to an area, prone to flood, known as the levels. Any thoughts that Frome Town may be in this area are quickly dispelled by an examination of their pitch. The playing surface is a patchwork of slopes and hollows on the side of a substantial incline, topped with a crusty, bumpy pock marked top layer that even a pre-match wintry shower did little to mollify. The home side, battling for survival, have developed a style fitted to their home conditions. If you can’t trust the surface don’t bother involving it unless absolutely necessary.
The game didn’t so much need a referee as an air traffic controller.
The trend was set as early as the sixth minute when a howitzer clearance from keeper Rob Brown was misjudged by the Beaconsfield back line, allowed to bounce and lashed goal-wards by Ollie Knowles who saw his effort bounce to safety off the base of Ravan Constable’s left-hand post.
When styles clash and conditions work against the beautiful game a firm hand in the middle is essential. Unfortunately, whilst the kit suggested he is qualified, Mr Flynn’s limp performance provided little in the way of corroborating evidence. Weak, inconsistent, easily swayed and often wrong. He exhibited scant control of anything, throughout a fractious scrappy and aggressive affair.
The performance was topped off on 80 minutes in circumstances so ridiculous it’s hard to believe what we witnessed. Having booked Louis Stead for dissent the official started to reach for his pocket again. Believing he had previously booked Stead for simulation in the first half. Fortunately assistant Mr Fudge was on hand to point out that Louis had not received a previous caution. “Fair enough”, I hear you say. “Stead and debutant right back Alex Nolan do share a passing resemblance”… For the record the player booked in the first half was Alex Cathline? On this basis I suggest anyone Mr Flynn has dismissed for two yellows this season appeal immediately and request an ID parade. “Should have gone to Specsavers!" Doesn’t really cover it?
Frome will feel and relate that Mr Flynn cost them the game because of his decision not to penalise Brendan Matthew in the run up to the strikers 21st minute goal. Matthew, pouncing on indecision between centre half Joe Low and keeper Rob Brown, muscled the defender aside, advanced on Brown who made a barely half-hearted effort to halt him, before being rounded by Matthew who somewhat apologetically rolled the ball into the net.
This may have been the point at which Mr Flynn lost any grip on the last vestige of control but in truth the home sides frustrations were already growing.
Prior to Matthews third goal in as many starts the home side had been largely in the ascendancy. Ravan Constable made two good saves from front men Troy Simpson and Ryan Bath but as Beaconsfield came to terms with the terrain, the surface and the muscular and agricultural style of the home team it was apparent that The Rams were not about to be bullied in the face of the onslaught. After the goal Frome with the encouragement of their small but vociferous home support forgot about the game and moaned at the referee for the duration.
In flashes it was apparent that their front five spearheaded by the muscularly effective Bath could play a bit and on a better surface they could probably have caused more problems for The Rams. They persisted with their front to back utilitarian approach fighting for everything and complaining to the referee every time they didn’t get it. They were already showing signs of desperation by half time. As to the merits of the free kick claims on the goal? You’ve seen them given and manager Gary Meakin was gracious enough to admit that he wouldn’t have been complaining if a free kick had resulted. That said Mr Flynn didn’t give these for most of the evening so there was at least one element of consistency his increasingly woeful effort. That said though being consistently unable to identify an obvious foul probably isn’t too strong a qualification.
Half time Rams 1 Frome 0
There was a second half.
Frome became more desperate, bad tempered and upset with the injustice of it all. The home crowd roundly abused the officials and various Rams players in colourful terms. Frome created one serious chance on 69 minutes when a misplaced Jerome Ecclestone pass resulted in a through ball to Rex Mannings who pulled the ball back for Bath, his effort was superbly blocked by Ravan Constable.
At the other end The Rams created and spurned several highly presentable chances to put the game beyond reach, notably a one on one which produced a fine blocking save by Wood who moments later was fortunate to escape censure when he appeared to handle outside the box in a one on one with Brendan Matthew, who attempted to lift the ball over the advancing keeper who blocked the ball with his upper arm and then seemed to pull Matthew back as the loose ball bounced behind him on the edge of the box.
Jon-Jo Bates and Thomas Gogo made pleasing cameos in the final quarter, probing down the flanks protecting and recycling possession and breaking up play in company with Louis Stead and skipper Wes Daly quietly and calmly effective all night despite large portions of the first half being where he was entirely bypassed by the bombardment.
In the final analysis Frome will hang everything on the goal and one can sympathise - when you’re down nothing goes your way. That said, the refereeing was woeful in all directions and almost climaxed with a slim white guy being sent off in a case of mistaken identity with a 6’5” African Caribbean fella who is built like a brick outhouses!
The goal was midway through the first half there was plenty of time. In football as in life, bullies expect to get their own way by duress and have few resources to cope when they don’t. At which point they look to blame everyone else for their own shortcomings. Frome clearly possess the attacking players to pull themselves back from the edge of the Abyss. I wouldn’t be ringing my bookie on the basis of this display though.
On the night Beaconsfield, to a man, answered the call, withstood the initial onslaught, embraced the physical challenges and won their individual battles. As a result they emerged from an uncomfortable evening with three well deserved points and now find themselves four points from absolute safety with six games to play.
1. Rob Brown
2. Richard Dawley [Sub 15. Cameron Allen 74]
3. Joe O’Loughlin
4. Tom Mehew
5. Joe Loe
6. Connor Roberts ©
7. Dan Whitely [Sub 14. Ryler Towler 65]
8. Ollie Knowles [Sub 16. John Gorman 65]
9. Troy Simpson
10. Ryan Bath
11. Rex Mannings
Subs Not Used:
12. Gustas Graziunas
13. Carl Crabtree
Manager Danny Greaves
1. Ravan Constable
2. Alex Nolan
3. Mayowa Balogun
4. Jerome Ecclestone
5. Luke Neville
6. Wes Daly
7. Louis Stead
8. Jordan Ajanlekoko
9. Brendan Matthew [Sub14 Billy Montague 90]
10. Aaron Minhas [Sub 16. Thomas Gogo 60]
11. Alex Cathline [Sub 15. Jon-Jo Bates 60]
Subs Not Used:
12. Ethan Holland
17. Charlie Losasso
Manager: Gary Meakin
Ref: Mr Daniel Flynn
Assistants: Mr Samuel Fudge - Mr Mark Loughlin