Beaconsfield Town produced one of their best performances of the season at Penydarren Park on Saturday to secure a hugely deserved and highly encouraging 3 points against a Merthyr side who inflicted the Ram’s worst defeat of the season in the reverse fixture at Holloways Park that ended 5-0.
Make no mistake. This was no smash-and-grab rearguard action. Even Merthyr manager Paul Michael, to his immense credit, felt that it was a deserved victory for Beaconsfield. Who, recovered from a slow start, falling behind early. The Rams went on to dominate possession and frustrate their hosts who became increasingly ragged as the afternoon wore on.
It began well enough for Merthyr. Ricardo Rees saw a side-foot volley turned around the post by Matt Rowley at full stretch. Gethyn Hill headed straight at Rowley from the resulting corner and Lewys Twamley fired over the top when in a good position.
After 18 minutes Hill twisted and turned on the edge of the box trying to make room for a shot then went down in installments when he was denied. Mr Grizzel was among a handful of those present who saw a foul.
From the resulting free kick Rowley was somewhat let down by his defensive wall which jumped up allowing Alex John’s low effort to beat Rowley’s outstretched hand to the bottom corner as he struggled to cover across his goal line.
Experienced Beaconsfield watchers were watching through their fingers at this point. Merthyr were moving the ball confidently and playing like a team currently sitting third in the table.
Beaconsfield though warmed to their task and started to play controlled possession football with an effective press. Moving the ball at pace they gradually took control and pushed Merthyr back.
The Rams deserved equaliser came after 27 minutes the ball was cleared from a corner and worked cross-field from James Dobson via Josh Payne and Dan Roth arriving at Jake Gosling in the inside right channel his chipped cross was met by Asher Yearwood who timed his run to perfection and placed his first-time volley beyond the despairing dive of Jaimie Cogman.
Buoyed by the goal Beaconsfield dominated the remainder of the half and took a deserved lead on the stroke of half time Dan Roths’ pass found Tom McElroy inside the box on the right edge. His delightful drag back left Matthew Harris sliding on the floor as McElroy stepped inside and fired high past Cogman into the net.
The assist was the high point of an impressive debut for Dan Roth who powered through some early nerves and looked completely at home at this higher level.
Half Time 1-2
The second half began with Merthyr attempting to rally in search of the equaliser but it was the visitors who extended their lead. Dan Bradshaw and Jake Gosling combined down the right and Bradshaw cut inside the box to the byeline before pulling the ball back to the edge of the six-yard box where Callum Ryan-Phillips under pressure from Zidan Akers slid the ball past Cogman and into the net from six yards.
Moments later it was almost four - McElroy and Akers combined down the left and McElroy again tortured his defender before advancing to place a drive across Cogman towards the corner but the keeper got enough of a fingertip on the shot to deflect it narrowly wide.
McElroy was an absolute menace for the home defence, closing, harrying and pressing. He made defenders earn everything all afternoon and moments after the save the unfortunate Callum Ryan-Phillips was very fortunate to avoid a Red card as McElroy set off towards goal the full back’s clumsy challenge, when last man, generated a Yellow card with most Beaconsfield observers feeling, that had the same incident occurred at the other end
Merthyr threw everything they had at it but Beaconsfield stood firm, rode their luck at times but reduced the hosts to efforts from distance and Merthyr became increasingly frustrated as the tried to force the pace and Beaconsfield kept their shape and discipline.
Merthyr finally broke through the resistance in the 83rd minute when a low cross deflected off the outstyretched leg of Jacques Kpohomouh’s attempted block and fell kindly for Lewys Twamley who fired home from close range at the far post.
With all that has gone before this season and late disappointments a plenty on the docket Rams followers had their hearts in their mouths but in the end they were able to see out the final 6 minutes and the 6 minutes added time without too many alarms.
Anything other than the win would have been an injustice here.
Beaconsfield after a slow beginning were the better team throughout.
They maintained their shape, discipline, and control and put in a thoroughly professional performance for close on 100 minutes.
The celebrations at the final whistle reflected relief but also recognised the resilience and attitude the team had displayed.
Next up The Rams welcome Salisbury to Holloways Park on Saturday. Another tough game against a top half team but on this form The Rams can give anyone a game. The trick will be carrying this form forward into the rest of the season.