Saturday 11th November 2023
Pitching in Southern League
Premier Division South
Beaconsfield 1 Winchester City 2
Holloways Park Att - Att: 162
Ram of the match - Josh Payne
Beaconsfield Town registered their fourth league defeat in a row on Saturday afternoon. They now have only their FA trophy win, over next Tuesday evening's visitors to Holloways Park Harrow Borough, to show for their efforts in the Five matches since their encouraging 6-match unbeaten run.
Yes, three of those defeats were against sides who currently sit in the top seven but last weekend's home reverse at the hands of Poole Town was some way off the standards displayed in the narrow defeats at the hands of Walton and Hersham and leaders Gosport Borough. Yesterday's defeat came against a team that The Rams could reasonably consider among their mid-table peers. The manner of the defeat as much as the actual result itself, was concerning for Rams fans. Somewhat dampening the feel-good factor and raised expectations of October, leaving many looking nervously over their shoulders.
They had only themselves to blame here. Despite dominating possession for long periods they failed to turn territory into significant chances and the few they created from open play were woefully squandered against a Winchester City side that lived on scraps but broke effectively and found enough penetration to create chances that could have seen them win more comfortably.
Ultimately they provided the more clinical finishes to emerge with all three points as Beaconsfield's defensive frailties were cruelly exposed and luck deserted them and Josh Payne in particular.
The midfielder cut a disconsolate figure as he left the field he can hold his head high though because he was outstanding in defeat here.
He bookended his performance with two high-quality freekicks. His first in the 5th minute, drawing the best from Luke Cairney who flew to his right and turned it around the post.
The second, came in stoppage time, as The Rams desperately threw everything at Winchester in search of a second equaliser. Zidan Akers had his standing leg taken from under him as he received the ball on the turn on the edge of the box on the left edge of the D. Paynes curling effort cleared the defensive wall but failed to dip the extra 6 inches necessary and cannoned off the angle of post and bar with a the statuesque Cairney rooted to his line, reduced to the role of concerned onlooker.
In between Payne brought the Rams level after 83 minutes. Converting the first penalty any team managed by Jon Underwood has been awarded since March 2022 when he and Neil Baker's, then charges, Slough Town were awarded a spot kick against The Ram's next FA trophy opponent Bath City. A baron run stretching some 59 matches.
Just as in last week's defeat to Poole. The Rams conceded early. Winchester struck, with Oliver Balmer’s curling effort after 10 minutes, giving Matt Rowley no chance After Jefferson Louis failed to corral a clearance in midfield. The striker was unable to bring the ball under control and his touch back towards his own goal fell perfectly for Balmer who took his opportunity with aplomb.Beaconsfield dominated but created few clear-cut chances. In fact The better opportunities fell to Winchester who could have extended their lead. Thomas Wright blasting over from close range and Jamie Barron bringing the best from Rowley who stretched high to turn the effort round his near post on the stroke of half-time.
Half time 0-1
The second half was again mostly Beaconsfield but just as before the break, clear sights of goal were few. The Rams threatened with James Dobson's consistent deliveries into the box maintaining the pressure on the Winchester back four who stood firm. There best chance came midway through the half. A Dobson cross fell to Jefferson Louis beyond the far post. His angled shot was blocked and fell to Luke Neville who squared the ball along the six-yard box for Zidan Akers. With the goal at his mercy he lent back and shaped to curl his effort inside the far post. Unfortunately, his execution was woeful. The required shape on the ball never arrived and it squirted well wide.
When debutant Tom McElroy headed over from a similar position moments later it seemed that The Rams were going to come up empty.
They were handed a lifeline in the 83rd minute when Oliver Griggs seemed somewhat harshly adjudged to have handled in the area. He blocked a goalbound Dan Bradshaw effort, in the act of turning his back on the shot the ball appeared to bounce up off his boot and hit his out-stretched forearm, the arm was outside the line of his body when it was struck but I don't think anyone can properly explain handball anymore since the FA intervened to simplify things. Mr Miranda was in no doubt although based on his two visits to Holloways Park this season doubt is not something he suffers from.
Payne slotted the penalty calmly after an interminable delay for an apparent injury to Winchester skipper
Parity lasted barely five minutes. Jamie Barron who required extended treatment prior to Payne’s penalty, recovered sufficiently to sprint 60 yards and cap Winchester’s best move of the second half with a calm finish.
Bradshaw thought he'd equalised but his low drive shaved the wrong side of Cairney's near post before ruffling the side netting. Then Payne's effort off the frame of the goal put the full stop on another disappointing afternoon for the Rams.
Images © Neale Blackburn Photography 2023
Match Facts [Southern League web site]