Beckenham Town 2 Sawbridgeworth Town 0
Buildbase FA Vase 1st Round
Report by Scott Lanza
Sawbridgeworth Town’s FA Vase campaign ended at Eden Park Avenue after a giving it a real go against their Southern Counties East League opponents. The Robins started very much on the front foot as Louis Monk tested Beckenham’s keeper Sam L’Anson as early as the first minute with a powerful shot that was tipped over the bar. The corner was met by the head of Billy Skinner and again L’Anson was able to block.
The Becks kept an eye on Skinner as they attempted to contain Sawbridgeworth’s lively start and they weren’t able to create an opening until the 16th minute when Adam Allen used speed to get into a good position to lay off a pinpoint pass to Richard Atkins – however Beckenham’s top scorer blasted his effort wide. The Becks talisman did a lot better with his next two efforts, a powerful shot and a header both requiring Matt Ponter to pull off good saves.
It had certainly been and end-to-end start and there were a number of full-bloodied tackles going in as both teams looked to get a foothold. For the Robins it meant losing Aaron Thomas and George Pullen within 35 minutes. That certainly stunted the visitors and the only chance they were able to muster as the half entered the closing stages was when Skinner latched onto a through ball but could only aim his shot straight at the Beckenham stopper.
The hosts went close in the 42nd minute when James Fray drilled a shot just an inch too high of the target. But it was a warning shot because the next one ended up in the back of the net. A free kick to the left of the penalty area was curled round the wall by Carlos Branco and it left Ponter with no chance as it flew into the right corner.
After taking the lead the Becks did not rest on their laurels as they almost added a second before the break as Atkins put a ball across Sawbridgeworth’s goal that Fray came very close to connecting with. Luckily for the visitors he wasn’t able to reach the ball at the far post, had he done so he would have doubled the lead. As it was the half time whistle couldn’t come soon enough for the Robins.
The break didn’t appear to have taken the sting out of Beckenham’s attacking play – they almost added a second goal within the opening two minutes! A ball worked its way across Sawbridgeworth’s box where it found Jake Britnell who swung a leg at the loose ball and clipped the post.
Elin Tackie slipped on the slippery surface, as there had been moments of intermittent rain, and the hosts launched a counter-attack from which they won a corner. The danger wasn’t over just yet as Atkins was able to connect with the corner, firing a shot off at close range that Ponter saved with his legs. Atkins was denied again when he turned and let fly but Ponter again pulled off a quality stop to keep the ball out of his net.
Sawbridgeworth’s engine had been switched off meaning they were not able to feed their front men with much more than scraps. But then Skinner, Wright and Tackie played a series of one-touch passes that looked promising but the Becks defence swamped the opportunity by putting bodies behind the ball until finally managing to gain possession of the ball and clearing it from their box. It did wake the Robins up though and they again buzzed with purpose around the Beckenham penalty area; but they came up against George Benner who showed why he had the Beckenham Captaincy as he put in a solid defending display that saw him snuff out a couple of Skinner and Wright forays. And a deep cross from Ross Gill was also dealt with by Benner, who had to mop up while under pressure from two Sawbridgeworth players.
The Becks having had to once again quell the Sawbridgeworth attack then started to work some nice passes in the midfield and now they were having most of the ball and in the Sawbridgeworth half. That possession finally turned into another goal in the 70th minute when Allen threaded a ball to Archie Johnson who took a touch before steering his shot inside Ponter’s right hand post.
The hosts were now in the driving seat and went for a third soon after getting their second. However Atkins wasn’t able to provide it as his shot was blocked; neither was Britnell who also had an effort blocked.
Sawbridgeworth’s heads didn’t drop though and L’Anson’s afternoon wasn’t over just yet as he had to cut out a Lewis Deamer header. Then Elin Tackie, who only moments before had tried a 40-yard howitzer that was only an inch to high, unleashed another shot that L’Anson tipped round the post.
The final whistle came soon afterwards meaning that Beckenham Town move into the 2nd Round. Sawbridgeworth can certainly be proud of the way they performed here and they played their part in an entertaining encounter.
Beckenham Town: Sam L’Anson, Jack Hope, Carlos Branco, Adam Allen, Adam Wadmore, George Benner (Capt), Archie Johnson, Jake Britnell, Richard Atkins, James Fray (Carlos Miguel 58’), Shameer Farrell (Michak Stewart 87’).
Scorers – Carlos Branco (43’), Archie Johnson (70’)
Sawbridgeworth Town: Matt Ponter, Tom Jelliman, Ross Gill, Lewis Deamer, Matt Frew (Capt), George Pullen (Jack Cousins 35’), Danny Wickenden, Louis Monk (Mark Robinson 71’), Billy Skinner, Joe Wright, Aaron Thomas (Elin Tackie 27’).