Saturday 18th February 2017 at The Camrose, Basingstoke.
Basingstoke Town 2 – 1 Biggleswade Town Jarvis & Artwell Bignall
Following the mid-week win at Hayes & Yeading, the ‘Stoke’ players went into this game, with some much needed confidence.
Manager Terry Brown, as expected, opted again for a 4-2-3-1 with Alex Tokarcyzk in goal, Marcus Johnston-Schluster at right back, George Bennett at left back, Joe Gater and skipper David Ray centre backs, Charlie Kennedy and Dan Collier holding midfield, Matt Partridge and Ashleigh Artwell either side of Sam Deadfield and Aaron Jarvis up front.
Honours even for the first five minutes, but then another early sucker punch as former BTFC player Nicholas Bignall was allowed to fire home from just outside the area.
Unfazed, a minute later Deadfield won a free kick outside the area. But yet again he showed his set piece delivery is better than his set piece shooting as he shot well over the bar.
And on 16 minutes Partridge also fired wildly over the bar from all of 30 yards.
More frustration was to follow as in the 25th minute, Johnston-Schluster fed Partridge from the right in the area, but his first touch was poor and it came to nothing.
Just two minutes later ‘Stoke’ keeper Alex Tokarcyzk kept us in the game, rushing off his line to deprive the visitors in a desperate one on one.
On 32 minutes, a moment that summed up so much of our season. Five square passes from left to right, culminating in a blasted cross high and wide from our right back.
More danger up the other end as two minutes later Biggleswade shot wide from outside the area.
In the 35th minute, Jarvis, showing yet more great trademark desire, made it to a ball on the right, laid it back, to Johnston-Schluster but his deep cross cannoned off Artwell’s shoulder for a goal kick.
Frustrating but our pressure was mounting and in the 38th minute Deadfield fed Jarvis who laid the ball off to Partridge for our first shot on target – straight at their keeper.
But, just as it seemed it was not to be our day, a moment of pure quality.
In the 39th minute, Partridge picked up the ball on the right, looked up, and picked out Jarvis with a sublime cross which the young forward headed straight back across the Biggleswade keeper and into the corner for the equalizer.
And with the visitors shaken, two minutes later despite a poor first touch as he chased the ball on the right, Johnston-Schluster fed Partridge whose deflected left-footed cross was met with an attempted overhead kick from Jarvis which went over the bar.
All square at half time but you felt Biggleswade, who had been mostly negative since scoring, were there for the taking.
However, it was they who started the second period the better. With just two minutes in and Tokarcyzk was forced into a good save low to his left from a free kick.
And in the 50th minute Ray slid in for a last-ditch challenge to block a shot from the left.
The visitors continued to attack and had a free header go just wide of our keeper’s left post.
Then they burst through one on one from the right, rounded Tokarcyzk, but luckily hit the side netting.
Our only real response at this point was a Partridge effort from outside the area, which he dragged wide.
We had seemingly switched to a 3-5-2 with Johnston-Schluster getting forward a lot more, but it wasn’t working.
But our Manager is a cunning fellow, and around the hour he made the substitution that changed the game.
Off came Collier, on came Owusu, he went on the left, Artwell switched to the right and Partridge dropped to holding midfield as we reverted to 4-2-3-1.
Owusu, he of little, or no, end product of late, was clearly out to put that right and he almost immediately drove at the backline from the left and got a decent low shot away across the keeper which he did well to hold onto.
But there was to be no stopping Owusu this time and after another surging run all the way to the by-line it culminated in a great whipped in ball which Artwell, ghosting in from the right, met at the far post for a calm clinical finish to give us the lead.
Fair play to Artwell, whose finishing has looked wayward on occasions – he made no mistake when it mattered most here.
We looked likely to go on to win comfortably, but more drama as we gave the ball away, they burst through and Ray felled their man as he was about to shoot.
This is where Ian and I disagree as I felt Razor had made a good tackle only for the forward to fall over Ray’s legs.
The referee however, decided our captain hadn’t got anything on the ball, gave a penalty, then consulted his linesman at length before giving Ray a yellow card.
Ian feels, Ray was going for the ball so it was either a straight red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity or nothing, but there you go.
Anyway, Tokarcyzk, himself yellow carded for either disputing the decision, or someone has suggested was raking the penalty spot with his studs, then made a brilliant dive low to his right to parry away what was a decent enough spot kick.
Biggleswade were stunned, and despite five minutes of stoppage time, couldn’t recover and the referee finally blew time on a welcome victory, our second in five days.
I thought our keeper was outstanding today – he will be badly missed while out after his op – Owusu changed the game, Partridge showed his quality and Jarvis yet again was just superb and is looking more confident in front of goal.
However, I will go for Aaron Jarvis as Man-of-the-Match as his tireless effort and first goal, probably out done an improving Matt Partridge.
Match Report – As usual the major part of this report is from Ian Davies own match report, with some extra details, thoughts from Martin French.