Tuesday 28th February 2017 at The Camrose, Basingstoke.
Basingstoke Town 5 – 1 Dunstable Town Partridge (pen), Artwell 2, Oyinsan M Atkinson, Owusu (pen)
On another bitterly cold, but very windy Tuesday night match, that started with an 8pm kick-off due to the late arrival of some of the Dunstable players, maybe now they wished that they didn’t turn up after all.
Manager Terry Brown shuffled his pack, but again opted for a 4-2-3-1 starting formation with: Alex Tokarcyzk (who still doesn’t know when his knee op may be and might leave it until close season now), in goal, Terence Van Cooten at right back, Joe Gater and skipper David Ray centre backs, George Bennett left back, Charlie Kennedy and Michael Atkinson holding midfield, Ashleigh Artwell on the right, Nana Owusu on the left, Matt Partridge in the hole and Aaron Redford up top.
The substitutes were: Marcus Johnston-Schluster, Dan Collier, Sam Deadfield, Oluwatobi Adekunle and Aaron Jarvis. I later found that with Kieran Greene not on the bench, Joe Gater was our back-up keeper.
Another game, another shocking start as a bad mistake from Ray let Dunstable in to open the scoring in the third minute. But we didn’t let it faze us and we came at them and, in the seventh minute, the first of many first-half frustrations as a low ball in from the right from Partridge was met with a clinical left-footed finish from Redford only to be ruled out for offside. Some of our fans who were in-line with the offside decision, stated that the linesman got it wrong and at that stage we should have been level.
In the 16th minute Owusu made a cracking run down the left, and got an excellent left-footed shot away which the keeper appeared to tip over the bar, but referee James Robinson gave a goal kick. It was mostly us now but, in the 19th minute, a mix up between our keeper and Gater resulted in Dunstable shooting narrowly over the bar. In the 22nd minute, Owusu hit the wall from a free kick and that creeping feeling it might be a frustrating evening grew, not least because Gater and Bennett both seemed to be struggling defensively. Four minutes later, Artwell got free in the area on the left, but his left-footed shot was wild and well wide.
But we kept on at them with Redford, ill-suited by a lone forward role, nevertheless working his socks off and trying to be inventive. In the 34th minute Redford produced a sublime flick on to release Artwell on the right whose cross went straight to the young Dunstable keeper.
In the 39th minute, Van Cooten, who made welcome runs on the overlap, got to the by-line, where he was fouled, but Ray headed Bennett’s free kick tamely over the bar. Then a minute later, as our pressure mounted, Partridge fed Artwell who eluded two defenders, then fed Van Cooten on the overlap on the right whose powerful strike went wide of the near post.
The half ended with a poor free kick from the right from Bennett and at the interval we went in, dominant, but a goal down.
At half-time, Brown took off Gater for Deadfield, with Partridge dropping back into central defence.
However, what was to come was a second-half scintillating performance, which Basingstoke Town made absolute mugs out of a shambolic Dunstable Town defence.
We started the second period with purpose and in the 49th minute Artwell won yet another free kick with great trickery on the right, but Deadfield’s free kick was even worse than Bennett’s first-half effort and was far too deep and went out for a goal kick. However, two minutes later, we got our reward. Van Cooten, again marauding down the right, got in two crosses and from the second we won a corner. The ball was whipped in, up went a Dunstable player’s arm and Robinson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
This season we have had a variety of spot kick takers this season, but Partridge took responsibility for this one and made no mistake, a well-struck low shot sending the keeper the wrong way as it went into the keeper’s right-hand corner to level the scores.
We were all over them now and, a mere two minutes later, the excellent Kennedy burst through the middle and then fed Artwell who showed great passion and no little technique to get to the ball first and finished clinically to give us the lead.
Dunstable were rocking now, and their keeper looked as nervous as hell and with good reason, as they couldn’t get out of their own half.
In the 59th minute it should have been three as from a Bennett free kick on the right, the keeper twice fumbled the ball, but neither Kennedy nor Partridge were able to take advantage, as all three flailed about on the goal-line. It wasn’t all good news as in the 64th minute, Partridge pulled up with what looked like a hamstring problem and went off and Johnston-Schluster replaced him in defence.
We continued to dominate and in the 65th minute a deflected shot from Artwell was just held by the keeper. Just two minutes later, a deflected shot from Artwell was just held by the keeper. Then in the 67th minute Deadfield turned well to the right of the area, but didn’t get a clean shot away and it hit the outside of the near post and went wide. Deadfield was determined to make his mark and a minute later a nice cross from him from the left just eluded the onrushing Artwell. Dunstable were now looking shocking.
Redford too, was showing great skill and, in the 72nd minute he produced a deft pull back from the left of the area to supply Atkinson who drilled a shot, which cannoned off the keeper and into the net to make it three. This was a superb assist from Redford and just rewards for Atkinson, too often overlooked this season and excellent tonight.
Three minutes later, Adekunle came on for Redford, who had put in an excellent shift. The newcomer certainly put himself about and got involved but, to be brutally honest, he didn’t massively impress me with his touch in the 15 minutes he was on, but maybe there’s more to come as he settles in. Anyway, in the 83rd minute the quite brilliant tonight Artwell won us our second penalty as the Dunstable defence couldn’t begin to cope with him.
Personally, I always look away when we take our penalties and our conversion rate is now 17 out of 18 when I do this. So I wasn’t going to stop now. With Matt Partridge off, we turned to Owusu, who stepped up and his well placed spot kick into the keeper’s left-hand corner just eluded the young stopper who this time went the right way.
A minute later Adekunle got a shot away with his weaker right foot, but it was well wide. Then on 86 minutes the by now rampant Artwell, took advantage of a defensive error to round the keeper twice before showing great composure to finish ruthlessly and clinically to make it five.
Dunstable were on their knees now, but still we went looking for six and, a minute into stoppage time, Deadfield, who got better the deeper into the game we got, sent a teasing ball in from the right after cutting inside which just eluded the head of the onrushing Adekunle. The final whistle blew and Dunstable had been crushed.
Despite the attendance being announced as 292, there was clearly less than 200 actually in the ground, but those who didn’t make it missed a treat.
Other Notes – It was also Michael Atkinson’s first goal of the season and now means that only Alex Tokarcyzk, is the only player (who has at least a dozen appearances), who has not scored this season.
Man-of-the-Match – The artful dodger (Ashley Artwell).
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.