the real fa cup

“You’re Holding Him There”

Beaconsfield SYCOB 2 – 1 Northwood

FA Cup Preliminary Round – 3/9/11

With Non-League Day sharing a date with the FA Cup preliminary round I opted for a short trip around the M25 for my Saturday football fix to Beaconsfield. As a child a trip to Beaconsfield was a rare treat because this meant we were going to see little people, miniature railways and small houses at Bekonscot model village. This of course fascinated me at the age of five or six but I’d had no reason to return since, until now. I can’t honestly say I was filled with quite the same excitement and anticipation I remember but hey, it was a new club to visit at least.

My interest in away team Northwood started off this season with a somewhat tenuous personal link but after checking out one pre-season and two league matches I have actually found myself checking on their fortunes regularly. In those three matches I had not seen less than five goals a game, with the aggregate score Northwood 9 Others 7. It’s the sort of football that sees them as the team that has scored the second highest number of goals in their league, while conceding the third most.

The trip to Beaconsfield Slough Youth Centre Old Boys (mercifully shortened to Beaconsfield SYCOB) was a short one for the Woods that would see sixth play eighth from the Evo-stik Southern League in the FA Cup. As for the name, you may have guessed already, it came from the merging of two clubs (Beaconsfield Utd and SYCOB in 1994)

The Rams, as the home team are apparently known (although later I would only hear shouts of ‘come on Becs’), are also clearly no mugs in front of goal, equalling Northwood’s league tally of 14 after six games. Of course this suggested a blinding game of non-stop goalmouth action, which as any football fan knows will never materialise when promised.

Holloway’s Park is the perfect location for an out of town ground, at least for those in Beaconsfield who don’t like football, with the M40 and a good mile or so separating the two. Of the 122 paying attendees who did show up, it was hard to imagine anyone had walked there. But it would be worth the trip, the clubhouse is smart with a decent outside patio and served a couple of real ales from the local Rebellion brewery. Of course the obligatory various framed football shirts adorned the clubhouse walls (what is that about?), I think there may have been a signed Liverpool one in there for some reason. There was certainly a signed copy of that Vinnie Jones – Gazza photo though.

Outside, what looked like a healthy queue to get in was actually a momentary lack of a turnstile operator. Once inside the ground I noted a pretty nifty home terrace behind one of the goals, which not only backs onto said clubhouse but shares a roof with it too. Nice touch.

As the game kicked off Northwood favoured a 4-4-2 formation, although previous encounters I had seen suggested they would flick to a 4-3-3 if required. With at least five strikers on their books it was the turn of Oliver Hawkins and Aaron Lansiquot to start in what appears to be an early season rotation policy. But unfortunately, if for no other reason than to hear other spectators’ comments, the well-built but skilful Ben Alexander didn’t even feature on the bench.

The game started with Northwood in control, Wayne O’Sullivan impressing early on, switching wings and causing equal difficulties for the left and right-backs. But it was referee Ben James who grabbed my attention. He not only looked a bit like Martin Allen but he also projected his voice such that it was possible to hear the reasoning behind most of his decisions, as well as giving a running commentary while the match was in progress “you’re holding him there”. My favourite part though was when he actually marked the position where the Beaconsfield wall should stand while defending a Woods free kick with a scrape of his boot across the grass.

O’Sullivan would hit the woodwork from the free kick and then in a subsequent attack Mr. James awarded a penalty to Northwood. But with the ball now in the net and the Beaconsfield players claiming the bought down player dived, no one seemed particularly happy with his decision. O’Sullivan calmly put the ball away from the spot, to at least stop the Northwood chuntering. Towards the end of the half Beaconsfield came more into the match with efforts from Victor Osobu and Ryan Tackley, which is almost a great name for a defender. A shout out here goes to his wonderfully named teammate Tommy Nutter as well.

Early in the second half Woods made a substitution and tactical change leaving Hawkins somewhat isolated up front. Beaconsfield would also occasionally attack, with Fiston Manuella lining up a shot that ended up coming closer to the satellite dish on top of the clubhouse than the Northwood goal.

To be honest a second goal looked unlikely until Mr. James awarded a penalty to Beaconsfield for a trip inside the area. Lee Barney blasted the spot-kick down the middle as Northwood’s keeper helpfully dived out of the way, to make it 1-1. James was to feature again when he walked from one goalmouth to the dugout, ball tucked under his arm, to remonstrate with a Beaconsfield coach who had been very loud throughout the game. This coach wasn’t responsible however for the shout of ‘bloody start running around’ which also came from the direction of the home bench. It might have been more entertaining if the players had followed those instructions literally.

After an ignored Northwood penalty shout (which looked much like the two that were given) the game came to life with minutes left on the clock. Craig White had a close range effort stopped by the Beaconsfield keeper which led my mate to suggest it was the first shot we had seen on-target. I admitted that apart from the two penalties he probably had a point. Unfortunately for Northwood, another on-target shot came in injury time as Beaconsfield took the lead through Manuella. With Hawkins (a very late scorer in the Northwood’s last match) now crocked on the bench there was little chance of them coming back into the game.

And so it finished 2-1. In truth it wasn’t the greatest game but it’s another friendly ground well worth a visit. There was also that last minute winner for excitement keeping Beaconsfield SYCOB’s FA Cup dream alive, well, an away tie with Wealdstone. As for Northwood, there’s always that old concentrate on the league cliché, which is rubbish of course in non-league circles with another FA competition and at least two county cups to play for yet.

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By Matt Allard, a wandering Bee and (his own words) ‘very part time motocross journalist’.

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