Rams Man of the Match - Ravan Constable
Beaconsfield keeper Ravan Constable has had his problems of late but on Tuesday night at Waterside Stadium he produced a dominant display and several outstanding saves for his team as they adjusted to key injuries in the second half and came from behind to earn a hard fought point.
For all his heroics there was nothing he could do to prevent the home side going in front in the fifth minute. With their first meaningful attack. Dan Bennet, probably the player of the game, forced a corner down the right. The corner was swung in to the area of the penalty spot. Skipper Max Hustwick got a run on his marker, Marvin Morgan, and the big centre half steered a stooping header across Constable and inside the far post. A good finish but defensively poor from The Rams.
Casuals boast an enviable home record, having lost only three at The Waterside this season. This is in marked contrast to their away form, where they have won only two and lost 8. It was apparent that they have developed a ball control, pass and move possession style suited to the artificial surface which The Rams took time to come to grips with.
The visitors were not as quick to settle and spent much of the opening quarter on the back foot, half a step off the pace. The possession they did have was rather frantic and hurried and lacked the incision and tempo of their win over Harrow Borough.
Marvin Morgan leading the line with his usual angular enthusiasm was shackled by the muscular Hustwick, legally in the view of Mr Ajibola, several times to Morgan’s not unreasonable frustration. On the one occasion the rangy striker did escape the centre backs close attention, latching on to a Bajram Pashaj through ball, Hustwick resorted to tugging him back. Twenty-five yards out with a free run on goal and making no attempt to play the ball Hustwick was extremely fortunate that Mr Ajibola considered a yellow card the appropriate sanction. From the resulting free kick Charlie Losasso produced a sharply dipping effort which Denzel Gerrar saved at the second attempt.
Beaconsfield were enjoying their best spell with Connor Hunte, making his first start, on the right, Jordan Ajanlekoko and Charlie Losasso combining well to create shooting opportunities for Losasso, Bajram Pashaj and Mayo Balogun. The visitors were also getting some joy down the left and Balogun delivered several quality crosses without managing to find a team mate or bypass Gerrar who was impressive in command of his area.
On 26 minutes Pashaj played in Morgan on the left side of the box. The big striker received the ball on the half turn effectively shielding it and turning Rob Sheridan, ball watching and too tight. Sheridan was beaten and grabbed Morgan pulling back on his left hip as he was in the act of shooting. Morgan went down under the challenge and the resulting effort skewed harmlessly wide. Mr Ajibola saw nothing wrong with the challenge. Possibly as a result of his positioning as much as his interpretation of the laws of the game?
Whilst enjoying a greater share of the game Beaconsfield were never dominant or particularly comfortable. For the home side Dan Bennettt and Jack Battie were a constant threat with pace down the flanks ably assisted by Lartey Sarpong and Alex Kelly linking through midfield in a good battle with Dan Brown and Jordan Ajanlekoko. That said neither keeper was particularly extended until the final minute of the half when Bajram Pashaj exchanged passes with Dan Brown and embarked on one of his trademark dribbles. The kind of on the edge of control run where you’re never entirely sure if he knows where he’s going? On this occasion he ended up wriggling free from the attention of a knot of defenders before firing in a low shot from the edge of the box which was well held at full stretch by Gerrar.
The visitors started brightly after the break with Charlie Losasso testing Gerrar from 20 yards. The big keeper looked decidedly uncomfortable retreating to his line to tip over Losasso’s speculative cross come shot as it dipped at the last minute.
Dan Brown released Marvin Morgan in the left channel but the big striker blazed over. The Rams continued to press and seemed to be pressing more consistently as a unit recycling more possession and forcing mistakes from Casuals.
In the 53rd minute Connor Hunte came in off his wing, held off two challenges and drove in a good low shot which Gerrar saved comfortably.
The Rams confident start to the second half was dealt two hammer blows in three second half minutes as first Reece Yorke and then Dan Brown were forced to limp off with apparent ankle or lower leg knocks. Jordan Ajanlekoko dropped in at centre back with Wes Daly and Charlie Losasso now forming the centre midfield partnership and Brendan Matthew being introduced to play off Morgan upfront.
In between the two injuries Dan Bennett, who became increasingly influential as the half wore on, produced the first of several top drawer saves from Ravan Constable who plunged low to his right to turn away a well struck effort from 18 yards.
This led to a spell of concerted pressure from the home side as Beaconsfield struggled to regroup. They produced a number of corners in succession without particularly threatening but were gaining the upper hand in midfield. Gary Meakin sent on Louis Stead to bolster the midfield and steady the ship and release Charlie Losasso
The move paid dividends almost immediately. As Casuals pressed for their second an attack broke down and the ball was played forward, headed on by Brendan Matthew to Losasso on the right. As he cut in and drew the attention of three defenders Matthew spun away from his initial challenge and burst through to the edge of the box, Losasso played an inch perfect pass into his path. Matthew took a touch as Rod Sheridan made a desperate last ditch lunge bringing the striker down just inside the area. Penalty! Again Mr Ajibola was required to interpret the appropriate punishment. Again he erred on the side of a caution. Probably taking the view that Sheridans lunge could be seen as a genuine attempt to make the tackle. Equally, you may take the view that Sheridan set out to prevent the effort on goal and getting some of the ball could be regarded as a bonus in the overall plan?
While Beaconsfield players remonstrated with the ref over the yellow card and Gerrar wandered out to eye ball him, Charlie Losasso remained icy cool and calmly slotted the spot kick home, once Mr Ajibola had enquired if the keeper was ready!
Twenty minutes to play and Beaconsfield, with the added pace and directness of Matthew terrorising the home defence, scented a possibility of an unlikely victory. Bennett quickly reminded them that they best not get ahead of themselves as he whipped in a fierce goal bound effort that produced the save of the night from Constable at full stretch diving high back towards his own goal to palm the curling effort over the bar.
Tony Gale acted quickly to redress the balance and sent on Sonny Black for the last quarter of an hour and his presence, coupled with tired legs and minds on the Beaconsfield side, immediately swung the game back in favour of the home team.
Casuals were lively down the flanks all night but as the second half wore on they were cutting through at will though on each occasion they lacked the final ball or found Constable in the way plunging at the feet of Bennet, stretching low to his right to turn away a snap shot from Black through a forest of legs, commanding the full depth and width of his 18 yard area to claim high balls and snuff out danger.
Beaconsfield remained a danger on the break though with Marvin Morgan thwarted by a sprawling save from Gerrar and Balogun continuing to test the keeper and his defence with well placed crosses but it was the home side who were finishing the stronger. Gale’s second substitute, Marcus Mealing, almost gave the home team the win on 88 minutes. A ball through the middle seemed no danger, Omar Vassell cushioned it back to Constable and he and Wes Daly turned to head upfield anticipating the wholehearted hoofed clearance. Unfortunately Ravan had anticipated playing out from the back and his first time pass fell straight to Mealing 35 yards out the sub closed in on goal but his effort was blocked by a combination of Vassell and Luke Neville.
Casuals will with some justification feel disappointed that they did not claim an eighth home win but Beaconsfield losing two key players from the spine of the team deserve credit for their spirit and tenacity. They may also point to some lenient interpretations of, ‘denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity’ from Mr Ajibola as potentially shaping the result.
1. Ravan Constable
2. Omar Vassell
3. Mayowa Balogun
4. Reece Yorke (Sub 17 Brendan Matthew 57)
5. Luke Neville ©
6. Jordan Ajanlekoko
7. Connor Hunte (Sub 14 Wes Daly 59)
8. Dan Brown (Sub 15 Louis Stead 64)
9. Marvin Morgan
10. Bajram Pashaj
11. Charlie Losasso
Subs Not Used:
12: Callum Webb
16: Jon-Jo Bates
Manager: Gary Meakin
1. Denzel Gerrar
2. Harry Mills
19. Rob Sheridan
6. Max Hustwick
3. Kyron Farrell
4. Alex Kelly
10. Lartey Sarpong
12. Jack Battie (Sub 8 Sonny Black 75)
11. Dan Benett
9. James Ewington
18. Cole Brown (Sub 20 Marcus Mealing 84)
Subs Not Used:
7. Nathan Wood
16. Reece Robins
17. Elgi Fejzo
Manager: Anthony Gale
Ref: Mr Aji Ajibola
Assistants: Mr Wally James - Mr Joshua Godfrey