Beaconsfield Town 1 - 0 Hemel Hempstead Town
Rams Man of the match - Bajram Pashaj
While Beaconsfield’s season so far is a long way from being a winter of discontent, it was certainly made glorious summer by a son of Yorke at Holloways Park on Saturday afternoon. Reece Yorke to be precise. The combative centre half’s 83rd minute header put paid to the Tudors of Hemel Hempstead and their hopes of an FA Cup run this season.
It was reward for a second half performance which saw The Rams go toe to toe with their illustrious visitors, currently standing second in the National League South, and more than hold their own.
They could and may be should have already been ahead after 63 minutes. Brendan Matthew’s pace allowed him to nip in between Jake Howells and keeper Danny Boness.
Rounding the keeper despite the full backs firm grip on his shirt Matthew was impeded enough to force him wider than he would have liked and Howells recovered enough to bundle man and ball away. If the Beaconsfield striker had gone down on the initial contact the consequences for Howells and Hemel may have been much more severe.
Arriving at the 83rd minute scoreless owed as much to the visitors wastefulness in front of as it did to smoothering defending and hardwork by Beaconsfield.
In the opening quarter the 40 league places between the teams were clearly evident. The visitors settled better, monopolised possession and carved out several presentable opportunities. All of which seemed to fall to on loan Crawley Town striker Ricardo German who caused mayhem in the home defence with intelligent running and strength in the air. On another day he may have had a hat trick in the first 15 minutes. Here though, Myles Bowman, returning after missing the midweek win at Harrow borough with food poisoning, stood firm and with luck and some defensive help he was able to just about keep the visitors at bay. Quickly off his line on two occasions to block goal bound efforts and standing up well under the high ball as the visitors threatened to overwhelm the home side.
After 20 minutes Gary Meakin made the decision to switch to three at the back and wing backs with Jordan Ajanlekoko slotting in on the right side of the three to add some much needed pace to counter the threat of German whilst providing extra support for Ade Shokunbi and Wes Daly in midfield who had struggled to retain any quality possession up to that point.
The changes had the desired effect and without particularly threatening, the home side were able to establish a foothold in the game, enjoying better quality possession higher up the park against an opposition who became increasingly frustrated as the half wore on.
The visitors were also not helped by the loss of Luke Howell from the centre of midfield when he limped off with an ankle injury after 35 minutes. His exit coincided with Beaconsfield’s best spell as Hemel reorganised. The home side forced a succession of corners culminating in short corner routine between Bajram Pashaj and Mayo Balogun. The move seemed to have disappeared down a blind alley before Pashaj found enough space on the edge of the box to curl in a cross shot which Boness had to stretch to claw away.
As half time approached Beaconsfield were forced into a change as Shawnikki Clement-Peter limped off to be replaced by Tyrell Mitford.
Half Time 0-0
The second half was a much more evenly contested affair. Hemel continued to enjoy good possession but the back three with the added pace of Ajanlekoko were less stretched and as the visitors pressed for the single goal which would probably be enough the game became more open. Bajram Pashaj and Ade Shokunbi became more influential in front of Wes Daly who screened the back four and dictated play in the centre of the park and wing backs Mayo Balogun and Alex Nolan were able to make the most of their more advanced roles. For all that, alarms for Boness were few but the home side were able to retain possession and press more effectively without leaving themselves stretched at the back.
On 51 minutes Pashaj and Balogun combined and Pashaj wriggled to the by-line and beat Howells who tripped him rather than allow the run into the box. The resulting free kick right on the edge of the box was driven into the near-post by Pashaj where it was cleared off the line by Jacques Kpohomouh.
Kpohomouh then combined with Liam Nash who played in Craig Braham-Barrett and his low shot was turned away by Bowman at full stretch. From the resulting corner German rose well but could not steer his close-range header under the bar.
Sam Ashford replaced Nash and was immediately in the action combining with Kpohomouh to force a corner before heading over when well placed.
The home side retained their shape and discipline though and the visitors continued to huff and puff, their earlier composure at the back increasingly deserted them and Tyrell Mitford’s ability to provide a focal point for the attack, whilst protecting possession allowed Ade Shokunbi in particular to link with the front men and press and probe in more advanced positions. It was his chip that allowed Brendan Matthew to almost embarrass Howells who did enough by fair means and foul to prevent what looked like a certain goal.
Moments later Matthew hobbled off to be replaced by debutant Kaine Kennedy-Sinclair. As both sides began to wonder about a replay the visitors enjoyed their best spell of pressure in the second period culminating in a golden opportunity for Joel Nketia. Two Rams were caught under a deep cross and German appeared to foul Luke Neville. The ball broke to Nketia 16 yards out right of centre he shaped to place it beyond Bowman with his left foot, with the goal at his mercy he got it all wrong and flashed his effort high, wide and not particularly handsome.
Four minutes later Ajanlekoko was fouled just over mid-way into Hemel’s half. Anyone who has watched Beaconsfielld since Gary Meakin took over will be familiar with the free kick move that followed. Luke Neville’s late run to the left is picked out by Wes Daly and the big defender heads it back across goal in the general direction of team mates who have massed to the right.
I have probably seen this routine 83 times in three seasons and can only remember one goal coming from it and I’m not entirely sure that wasn’t a preseason friendly! Or should I say one other goal?
On this occasion Daly’s perfectly flighted delivery lead Luke Neville towards goal. The big centre half’s cushioned header across was met at the far post by centre half partner Reece Yorke who as ever put his body on the line, shook off the attentions of Connor Essam stretching and diving forward to head Beaconsfield into the draw for the next round.
Come On You Rams
1. Myles Bowman
2. Alex Nolan
3. Mayo Balogun
4. Reece Yorke
5. Luke Neville
6. Wes Daly © (Sub14 James McCluskey 85)
7. Jordan Ajanlekoko
8. Ade Shokunbi
9. Brendan Matthew (Sub18 Kaine Kennedy-Sinclair 79)
10. Shawnikki Clement-Peter (Sub 17 Tyrell Mitford)
11. Bajram Pashaj
Subs Not Used:
13. Borja Loeches Teixeira
15. Mihai-Andrei Chiriac
16. Kane Guy-Seifert
Manager: Gary Meakin
Hemel Hempstead Town
1. Danny Boness
2. Munashe Sundire
3. Jake Howells (Sub16 Tyrone Stirling 68)
4. Tosan Popo
5. Connor Essam ©
6. Mitch Dickinson (Sub14 Jack Midson 85)
7. Liam Nash (Sub 15 Sam Ashford 62)
8. Luke Howell (Sub19 Jacques Kpohomouh 35)
9. Isaac Galliford
10. Ricardo German
11.Craig Braham Barret
Subs Not Used:
12. Joel Nketia
17. George Paulin
18. Aluin Magagada
Manager: Sammy Moore
Ref: Mr Wayne Cartmel
Assistants: Mr Russell Jones - Mr Jack Scott