Basingstoke Town 5 – 0 Gosport Borough Hampshire Cup Tuesday 19th September 2017
“Oh, by the way, one last thing….please never leave us!”
Those was my parting words to Manager Terry Brown after we had stormed to a 5-0 win over Gosport Borough this evening as we embarked on our campaign as holders of the Hampshire Cup.
The opposition are the Southern Premier whipping boys but, even so, it was hard not to be impressed with the display by our Academy-infused (and enthused) squad.
On a crisp clear evening at The Camrose, Brown again opted for a 4-3-1-2 with Aaron Holt in goal, Tim Wohlfiel right back, George Bennett left back, Dan Bayliss and captain (excellent choice) Charlie Kennedy centre backs, Dan Collier, Charlie McCann and Ashleigh Artwell in midfield, Sam Deadfield in the hole, and Kieron Rodgers and Jack McKnight up top.
We made a brightish start.
In the second minute Collier fired wide after a neat McKnight flick back.
And in the seventh minute McKnight was just caught offside after a promising move.
Rodgers was looking lively, but kept getting caught offside. “Be patient, Kieron!” was the unmistakable bellow from the gaffer in the stands in the 13th minute.
Artwell was looking on his way back to form and in the 19th minute did his man on the right before delivering a deflected ball in to Rodgers who fired just over the bar from 12 yards out.
The young academy forward was coming into the game more and in the 24th minute Rodgers whipped in a good ball from the right after being fed by Artwell but there was no one there to get on the end of it.
A minute later Gosport had their first chance as Holt slightly nervously tipped a shot from 25 yards out over the bar two-handed.
We quickly broke from the corner, though as McKnight supplied Rodgers who cut inside and shot wide from distance.
We were all over them, a goal was coming and a minute later it arrived.
Bennett played a nice through ball to Deadfield in the area, his low shot was only parried and McKnight was on hand to the right to calmly tuck away the rebound.
However, it was a mixed night for Bennett and three minutes later he was caught in possession, Gosport broke down the right and Holt was forced into a low save to his right.
But we remained on top and in the 34th minute Wohlfiel, enjoying playing on his natural side at right back and getting forward loads, had a shot at the keeper.
And a minute later Artwell had a pretty much stone wall shout for a penalty after a clear push in the back as he shot after a great run down the right.
In the 37th minute Bennett played a howler of a weak back pass but Gosport couldn’t take advantage.
And three minutes after that a great lobbed pass from Deadfield put Artwell clean through but he dragged his shot horribly wide.
43rd minute and McKnight’s turn for an error as an ill-judged header back resulted in a shot over the bar from distance.
And right on half time Collier fired well wide from fully 35 yards when there were better options to his right.
Artwell and McCann departed at half time to be replaced by Jordan Goater and Will Shaw.
Three minutes in and a Gosport defensive error enabled Deadfield to feed McKnight who squared to Goater whose shot was deflected over the bar for a corner.
The keeper failed to gather the ball in and McKnight was ideally positioned at the back post to punish the error – 2-0.
That was pretty much game over as Gosport weren’t offering much but it was good to see the way, even with young players on, we went looking for more.
In the 54th minute an all-academy piece of real quality.
Goater, who really impressed me tonight, whipped in a great early ball from the left and Rodgers’s shot flew inches wide of the near post.
It was undefendable football and deserved a goal.
Shortly after another good move and Goater shot just over the bar after a Deadfield lay off.
On the hour, Rodgers was replaced by Sam Smart.
There then followed a mini-spell for Gosport but the nearest they came to a lifeline was in the 73rd minute when, after a shockingly feeble attempt at an interception by Bennett, Holt made a cracking solid save low to his right to save the day.
This seemed to stir us from a temporary slumber and in the 75th minute Deadfield, who was yet again excellent and a creative menace all night, got to the byline on the right and pulled the ball back to McKnight who delivered a clinical low finish in the corner to the keeper’s right for his hat-trick and 3-0.
To paraphrase Damon Runyon, if McKnight’s not a natural centre forward he’ll do until a natural centre forward comes along.
The lad was superb tonight and has transformed my view of him.
Not to be entirely outdone, in the 84th minute, Smart cut inside from the left and his shot won a corner from which Collier made it 4-0 with a header.
But the night belonged to McKnight and, right at the death, Deadfield went short at a corner to Collier, who in turn supplied McKnight who cut inside from the left onto his right foot and curled his shot past keeper to make it 5-0 on the night and four for McKnight.
And then it really was goodnight.
Just time for a quick chat with the Manager – who is seeking cover at centre back and up front – who said he is really enjoying managing the team at the moment and laughed when I begged him to never leave us.
And that, as they used to say in the old movies, is where we came in.