Beaconsfield Town made the long trip to Taunton on Wednesday night knowing they would need to be at their very best to trouble the League leaders and for much of the game they did just that with a fluent, neat and tidy display of possession football which made it somewhat mystifying that the went in at half time trailing by 2 goals to nil before pulling one back from the restart and dominating the second half.
The League leaders started well, Pierce Mitchell bringing a good plunging save out of Ravan Constable on 11 minutes, and went in front on 20 minutes. Taunton’s man of the match Andrew ‘Rocky’ Neal cut in off his wing and let fly from 20 yards. Constable appeared to anticipate a better shot than the one he got and as a result he dived past the routine effort and could not adjust to keep the ball out.
The home side had enjoyed some pressure up to this point but even at this early stage it was apparent that The Rams patient possession football could trouble The Peacocks whose approach was considerably more direct and utilitarian.
For all their good possession and tidy approach play though, Beaconsfield were unable to produce a killer ball to unlock the home defence and their only effort before conceding saw Wes Daly curl a 25 yard speculative effort just wide of Chandler Halletts left hand post.
The Rams best chance fell to Louis Stead. Bajram Pashaj and Charlie Losasso exchanged passes on the left and played in Brendan Matthew who got to the byline and curled a cross just beyond the far post where Stead, under the challenge of Keith Emerson, could not direct his header on target from the close range.
Matthew was then unfortunate to fall victim of a marginal offside decision as he rounded Hallett to finish with composure.
Taunton increased their lead on 39 minutes and it came from an apparently promising position for the visitors. Wes Daly with space in midfield sought to play in the overlapping Jerome Ecclestone but his pass was intercepted by the busy and effective Ryan Brett who transferred it quickly to Andrew Neal in the vacant right back area he advanced to the edge of the box and made space for a routine effort, straight at Constable, but it was rendered unstoppable as Luke Neville stooped to attempt a headed block and deflected into the bottom corner. Constable managed to adjust and did well to get a hand to the ball on its way in but was powerless to keep it out.
Half time 2-0
The second half started in explosive fashion. From the kick off Beaconsfield retained possession in midfield and worked the ball down the right wing. Charlie Losasso played in Louis Stead and then drifted into the box behind Brendan Matthew and Bajram Pashaj who advanced on goal taking the defence with them. Stead looked up and delivered a perfect cross to the withdrawn Losasso unmarked ten yards from goal. Charlie met the cross with a sweet right foot volley which flew past Hallett. Game On!
Taunton were rocked. Two minutes later Brendan Matthew sprang the offside trap and challenged the advancing Hallett. The ball rebounded to Louis Stead 35 yards out with the net unguarded but his return effort failed to hit the target.
Matthew found himself in on goal moments later played in by a defender. The linesman, from the opposite wing raised his flag and Ref Mr Scriven, 10 yards from the incident, made the first of a number of bewildering second half interventions giving the offside.
The Rams were dominating, pressing Taunton back but again clear chances were few and far between as the home side dug in and contented themselves trying to snuff out the visitors onslaught launching hopefull clearances for the willing Rocky Neal and Ollie Chamberlain to chase and make a nuisance of themselves.
Brendan Matthew, lively all night, made way for Jon-Jo Bates on 67 minutes and the bustling striker was immediately into the action. Played in by Bajram Pashaj he elected to play in Losasso when it looked that he was better positioned himself to shoot. Losasso was immediately challenged and his goal bound shot lacked venom and was easily saved by Hallett.
Moments later Taunton showed that they weren’t lying down as Brett closed down Ravan Constable as the big keeper dithered over a clearance. The ball cannoned into Brett and flew just wide of the angle of post and bar.
At the other end Bajram Pashaj was denied a potential free run on goal as Matt Buse batted Jon-Jo Bates’ return pass away with his hand. Mr Scriven underlined his general lack of authoritative presence on the night by issuing a yellow card. The resulting Pashaj free kick failed to beat the defensive wall.
Two minutes later The Rams were inches from parity. Charlie Losasso lifted the ball over the static back two and it held up allowing Jon-Jo Bates to challenge Hallett just outside the area. Bates narrowly beat the keeper as the pair came together with the keepers follow through halting the striker’s momentum and knocking him off balance. As a result he was unable to regain possession of his own touch as the ball dribbled narrowly wide.
Mr. Scriven weighed the available options, Penalty? Goal Kick? He awarded a corner.
Hallett apparently injured in the challenge recovered his position on the goal line as Beaconsfield drilled in a quick corner Reece Yorke climbed well at the far post and headed across goal, at which point, Mr Scriven awarded a free kick which owed as much to him reconsidering his decision to allow the quick restart as it did to any foul play.
Beaconsfield continued to dominate, Sefan Powelll replaced Dan Brown who had given his all in midfield and Callum Webb replaced Jerome Ecclestone as Gary Meakin sought to throw everything at Taunton in the final minutes.
Half chances continued to come but The Rams just weren’t getting the run of the ball at vital moments and could not grab the goal and the point that was the very least this fine performance deserved.
Playing poorly and winning is the mark of champions, Taunton march on and will be very difficult to stop but they will have few more difficult, uncomfortable outings than this in the remainder of the season.
1. Ravan Constable
2. Jerome Ecclestone (Sub 14 Callum Webb 77)
3. Mayowa Balogun
4. Reece Yorke
5. Luke Neville
6. Wes Daly ©
7. Louis Stead
8. Dan Brown (Sub 16 Stefan Powell 73)
9. Brendan Matthew (Sub 15 Jon-Jon Bates 67)
10. Bajram Pashaj
11. Charlie Losasso
Subs Not Used:
12: Joe Adoo-Peters
GK: Tyla Dickinson
Manager: Gary Meakin
1. Chandler Hallett
2. Pierce Mitchell
3. Lewis Hall
4. Ben Adelsbury
5. Ed Palmer
6. Matt Buse
7. Ollie Chamberlain
8. Ryan Brett
9. Matt Wright © (18 Douglas Camilo 62)
10. Keith Emmerson
11. Andrew Neal
Subs Not Used:
12. Craig Veal
14. Dan Sullivan
15. Josh Nelmes
Manager: Rob Dray
Ref: Mr Craig Scriven
Assistants: Mr Samuel Fudge - Mr Michael Halford