Match Report by Philip Passey

FA CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND

TUNBRIDGE WELLS 1-1 BECKENHAM TOWN

Bisset 45+2      –      Bolarinwa 37

TUNBRIDGE WELLS WON 4-1 ON PENALTIES

Culverdon Stadium

Photo credit – SNIPERPOSE

Saturday 12th September

Having blamed “tired minds and legs” for the disappointing performance against Glebe, Becks’ assistant manager Billy Walton saw his side crash out of this years’ FA Cup in a penalty shootout loss at Tunbridge Wells.

It was a revamped 3-5-2 formation for Town that saw new faces Harvey Hanifan, Tom Menditta and Ayotomiwa Bolarinwa drafted in and strikers Joe Nwoko and Tunde Aderonmu finally given starting roles upfront.

Beckenham dominated a poor first half of few clear cut chances. The best opportunity in the opening thirty minutes fell to Nwoko. Put clean through he was unable to pull away on a slow pitch that was badly in need of a haircut and that enabled a Wells defender to stick out a toe and make the last-ditch challenge.

Becks finally broke the deadlock eight minutes before half-time. A long ball over the top from skipper Harvey Brand released Bolarinwa on the right. The winger cut inside the over-committed left-back and from a tricky angle on the edge of the six-yard box, with a centre-half closing and everyone expecting the cross, he surprised the bemused keeper beating him at his near post with a clever shot off the outside of his boot.

The lead did not last. In first-half injury time, Tunbridge won a free-kick on the edge of the box. Robbie Bissett rose highest, just beating central defender Ike Robertson to the ball. The contact was minimal and the header down to the left was weak, but somehow it deceived a rooted Michael McEntegart in goal and squirmed in for the equaliser.

Strong in midfield and with their tails up, Wells enjoyed their best spell of the match in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. But for all their possession they created little.

Jason Huntley brought on Jamie Humphris for the tiring Bolarinwa and also the tricky Stefan Cox and from then on it was Becks who looked the more likely to get the winner with Humphris giving his defender a torrid time. Menditta spurned a great opportunity when he put a clear chance over, Aderonmu hit a post and then Cox burst through only to shoot wide. Town were creating opportunities but repeatedly failing to test Wells keeper Aaron-Lee Wharton. In the final minute, a Becks free-kick saw Aderonmu’s header saved, the ball fell to Robertson on the six-yard box and whilst he struck it well it was straight at Wharton who pulled off the save to ensure the tie would go to penalty kicks. There was some controversy when the referee decided against a coin toss and instead insisted on the kicks all being taken at the end where Tunbridge’s fans were.

Wharton was arguably Man of the Match in normal time and he would excel himself in the shootout. With Wells scoring first, Ryan Hall’s poor attempt was saved. And after Tunbridge made it 2-0, Humphris’ weak effort was also easily saved. Becks were 3-0 down when Aderonmu finally netted their first spot-kick in the top corner. But when McEntegart failed to stop Wells fourth spot-kick it was finally all over.

BECKS LINE-UP:

McEntegart; Hanifan, Robertson, Henry; Menditta, Kaffo (Valler), Brand (c), Hall, Bolarinwa (Humphris), Aderonmu, Nwoko (Cox)
Subs not used: Townsend, Pink, Johnson, Brown