Match Report by Philip Passey
Photo Credit: SNIPERPOSE
FA Vase First Qualifying Round
BECKENHAM TOWN 1
LITTLEHAMPTON TOWN 2
Saturday 19th September
EDEN PARK AVENUE
Becks crashed out of the FA Vase after a lacklustre performance saw a well drilled Littlehampton Town side leave Eden Park Avenue with a deserved 2-1 win. Goalless at the half, two second half strikes in the space of 15 minutes put the visitors from West Sussex firmly in control and Stefan Cox’s injury time thunderbolt proved to be no more than a consolation.
Flying high in Division 1 of the Southern Combination, the visitors started well with skipper Scott Packer heading over from a free-kick and danger man Joe Benn shooting across goal following an error from Becks central defender Ike Robertson. It was over 15 mins before Steve Townsend’s got Becks first shot on target – but it was tame and James Binfield saved with ease.
Meanwhile at the other end Jordan Clark headed wide from close range and Benn only just failed to connect to a cross after good work from right winger Lucas Pattenden. Becks replied with Cox skinning two to tee up striker Joe Nwoko in the area but he delayed the shot and was tackled. Winger Tom Bolarinwa then broke and set up Townsend but the shot was blocked. Cox then escaped three men before having a shot well saved.
But it was Littlehampton who were looking more likely. Well drilled, hard working and up for the fight they increasingly made a mockery of their Step 6 status. Five minutes before half-time, their dangerman Benn was booked after getting in a tangle with Robertson and Becks finished the half strongly. After Townsend was upended just outside the area on the left, Bertie Valler’s initial free-kick was blocked, Cox’s powerful follow-up was deflected across goal to Harvey Brand on the right side of the area. His cross found Nwoko whose goalbound header was cleared off the line. But when Valler’s poor pass went straight out for a throw just as the referee blew for the break, it summed up a mediocre first-half showing from the Step 5 outfit.
Jamie Humphris replaced the injured Townsend at half-time, but his first contribution was to get booked for a needless tackle from behind. Pattenden and then Mitch Hand from a free-kick had shots saved comfortably by Beckenham goalkeeper Michael McEntegart. Humphris then played in Valler on the right and his useful cross almost found Nwoko and Bolarinwa before Binfield did well to emerge from the scramble with the ball.
On the hour mark the visitors took the lead. Valler fouled Benn centrally. The ball was moved to the right before a killer pass inside LB Archie Johnson sent Pattenden racing through on goal. Whilst McEntegart got something on the shot, it still had enough to evade the despairing lunge of Robertson on the line and squeeze in at the back post. Pattenden’s somersault celebration as teammates descended revealed the visitors glee.
Shocked into a response there was an immediate increase in intensity from Becks. The unusually quiet Junior Kaffo played in Brand on the right twice in the space of 30 seconds and the second time should have been the equaliser, but the usually dependable skipper pulled his shot just wide when he looked destined to score.
With The Marigolds going close a couple of times, Becks brought on Ryan Hall for the ineffectual Nwoko but after good work down the left from Johnson, Hall’s first meaningful action saw him air kick a half-chance in the area.
Becks best work going forward usually involved Cox and with 15 minutes to go he burst away from four defenders as he progressed from inside his own half before being stopped by a firm but fair tackle just outside the area. Littlehampton broke quickly. Benn did exceptionally well to hold the ball up before somehow moving it on into Becks half and suddenly the counter was on. The ball was quickly moved to George Gaskin advancing left of the centre circle and he let fly with a rocket from 30 yards that crashed off the post from one side of the goal and in on the other with McEntegart rooted, staring in disbelief.
Two-nil down and Becks changed to a 3-5-2 as centre-half Henry was replaced by Tyrone Pink. With Littlehampton a constant threat to add a third on the break and not averse to killing the clock, Becks desperately looked to find a way back into the game.
Cox stung the keepers hand with a rasping effort before winning a corner that Binfield did well to punch over. Following the second corner Valler blazed over. With injury time looming Valler’s cross evaded the keeper but Brand arriving at the far post could only find the side netting. Cox then burst forward and flashed a ball across goal before another delivery was headed away for a corner.
Two minutes into injury time Cox offered a lifeline when he once again cut inside before hammering a shot from the edge of the area into the top corner with Binfield motionless. Becks pushed on for the equaliser that would mean unlikely penalties but time was against them and when Brand, played in on the right, chose the wrong option – his pull-back inside the area being easily mopped up – it was to prove their final chance as the referee blew his whistle seconds later.
BECKS LINEUP: McEntegart; Brand (c), Johnson, Henry (Pink), Robertson; Kaffo, Valler, Cox, Bolarinwa; Nwoko (Hall), Townsend (Humphris)
Subs not used: Martins, Hanifan