Captain Danny Waldren emphatically headed Becks into the Third Round of this year’s FA Vase, but only after Step 6 Oxfordshire side Milton United had given The Reds an almighty scare at The Heights. 

Two deft glancing headers from Miltonians winger Ollie Nadin had Beckenham trailing both before and after half-time with Becks twice fighting back to equalise before Waldren powered home from six yards out with just ten minutes left to seal a thrilling comeback.

It was Beckenham’s fourth straight win away from home in the tournament this season having already knocked out k Sports (5-0), Sussex side Hassocks (2-1) and East London based Essex Senior Leaguers Clapton FC (2-0).

Despite starting as strong favourites, Becks looked nervous and disjointed in the first ten minutes as they struggled to get to grips with youthful and inventive hosts enjoying an impressive run of form. 

The Reds had already survived two or three early scares when United broke through the centre. At full-stretch Callum Henry just managed to avert the initial danger but the big central defender was caught out by Nadin in the follow-up – Milton’s leading scorer ghosting into the penalty area and glancing home Fin Baker’s first-time cross from the right at the near post.

Visibly stunned, Becks dug in, Waldren shooting wide whilst the ever-willing Farrell offered their best attacking outlet. The first-half pattern only changed when Becks switched from 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation allowing them to play a diamond in midfield and wrestle back control in the centre of the park.

The equaliser arrived shortly afterwards. Tunde Aderonmu won possession thirty yards from goal and played a ball out to the right. Veteran Jamie Humphris and teenager Freddie Nyhus exchanged passes before bringing in overlapping right-back Bertie Valler whose cross beat the first defender and evaded everyone – including Farrell arriving at the near post – before being slammed home from under the crossbar by Aderonmu.

Seven minutes later Tunde rose well to head home a second only to see his effort ruled out for a foul on the defender. It looked a harsh decision. But by half-time with Humphris, Aderonmu, Nyhus, Farrell and Joe Healy all starting to purr, Becks were clearly on top.

However, just eight minutes into the second-half Nadin cleverly found a pocket of space and gave goalkeeper Nick Blue no chance as he produced another fantastic near post header – this time glancing home right-back Ollie Thomas’ cross as Milton retook the lead. It was particularly galling for Farrell who having been played clean through just moments earlier had fluffed a big chance by going for the spectacular instead of doing the sensible.

Back came Becks. Eight minutes after going behind for a second time, Nyhus and full-back Archie Johnson exchanged passes cleverly down the left before the latter hit a cross that suddenly became a shot – deceiving everyone as it rose before dipping in at the far post for the equaliser.

Nadin then missed his hat-trick chance when his effort hit the post. Humphris and Aderonmu both had shots before Waldren blazed over from the edge of the area – the ball bobbling up just as he set himself to shoot when well placed – and Nyhus headed just wide.

With ten minutes left a mistimed defensive header only narrowly missed the net and gifted Becks a corner. Healy flighted it in and Waldren arrived at the back post, powering his header across goal and in to seal a dramatic victory and spark raucous celebrations.

Man of the Match: Danny Waldren (MF)

BECKS LINEUP: Blue; Valler, Johnson, Carter, Henry; Waldren (c), Healy, Nyhus; Humphris, Aderonmu (Bloomfield 87), Farrell (Kaffo 90)
Unused Subs: Curran, Pinto, Wilson (GK)