Basingstoke Town 1 – 1 Dorchester Town Tuesday 24th October 2017
I had been wondering for quite a few weeks which would happen next: we’d get a point on the road or drop points at home?
Well now I know.
On an initially mild, but wet and windy, evening, in the proverbial game of two halves, Basingstoke Town threw away a win that should have been secured by half time.
The night didn’t start too promisingly with Dan Bayliss injured in warm up.
This left Manager Terry Brown having to make a late change to his slightly more circumspect 4-4-2 formation, which was: Colm McAdden in goal, captain Marcus Johnston-Schuster returning at right back, Leslie Sackey at left back, Shane Hollamby and Guri Demuria centre backs, Ashleigh Artwell wide right, Sam Smart wide left, Charlie Kennedy and Michael Atkinson central midfield, and Ben Wright and Sam Argent up front.
It was an uneventful start as we attacked the covered end with the wind behind us.
The visitors had a corner in the seventh minute, but the game didn’t come to life until five minutes later.
Hollamby pinged a great ball to Argent, who turned his man in the area before putting in a great low ball to Wright who frankly just wasn’t quick enough to get on the end of it.
Wright almost atoned a minute later with a nice back heel in the area, but nothing came of it.
We were getting on top now and in the 18th minute Argent, Man Of The Match for me tonight, won us a corner.
Wright’s delivery was decent and, at the far post, Hollamby got a powerful header away, but hit the near post.
Two minutes later Wright showed good skill to cut inside onto his left foot and his effort beat the keeper but was cleared from off the line.
From the resulting corner Kennedy tore in and his glancing header back across goal was just cleared.
We were all over them and deserved a goal but when it came in the 23rd minute it was fortuitous.
Artwell whipped a ball in from the right which was cleared straight onto another Dorchester player off who it ricocheted off into the net for an own goal.
And it might have been two in the 25th minute as a lovely pinged ball over the top put Sackey in behind, but his final ball in from the byline was woeful.
Dorchester were struggling to get back into it.
A 26th minute corner came to nothing then they shot wildly over on 31.
Then, five minutes later, when Artwell failed to prevent a cross from our right, a free header went narrowly wide.
But we still looked the more likely to score and in the 40th minute great skill from Argent resulted in the ball being fed to Kennedy whose decent low shot was parried nervously away.
Dorchester had a goal-bound shot blocked in the 40th minute, but we continued in the ascendant.
In the 44th minute the ball fell to Atkinson on the right but his shot was blocked.
Then, right on the stroke of half time, Smart fed Sackey on the left on the overlap and this time the loanee drove in a fab low ball which just eluded Argent rushing in at the far post.
Half time and we are a goal up and it could so easily have been three.
One half time change for us – Artwell, who for me hadn’t offered that much going forwards (and even less defensively) was replaced by Tim Wohlfiel who went to left back with Sackey pushed up into wide left midfield and Smart switching to the right.
Sad to say, with the wind now against us, it became a different game.
In the 52nd minute McAdden, excellent tonight, got down well to save a low shot from the left.
And in the 56th minute their number 8 burst straight past both Kennedy and Atkinson before luckily shooting straight at McAdden.
A minute later Dan Collier came on for the injured Atkinson, who had earlier picked up a yellow card for an innocuous challenge.
On the hour our first chance of the half as Argent got onto a Wright flick on and his decent low shot across the keeper from the right drew a superb finger tip save.
Then up the other end two decent saves from McAdden, the first a fierce shot straight at him he held onto well and then a deflected effort which he caught cleanly.
In the 68th minute Smart and Argent linked up well on the right and Argent cut inside into his left foot and his low shot was only parried and Wright coming in for the rebound then had some handbags with the keeper which resulted in both players being booked.
But the visitors were looking increasingly dangerous.
McAdden saved from a low shot in the 69th minute, but then in the 72nd minute a great diagonal ball to the right, Wohlfiel was turned inside out as the player cut inside and a great low finish across McAdden made it 1-1.
In truth, it had been coming, Dorchester will feel it was just desserts for their second half endeavour.
It was certainly our just desserts for failing to take our first half chances and for an indifferent second-half display.
Brown’s last throw of the dice was to replace Sackey with George Bennett, in what looked a late switch to 4-3-3, with Smart joining Argent and Wright up top, though in hindsight Callum Bunting for the tiring Wright might have been the smarter move as Bennett offered little.
That said, Wright did win a free kick in the 74th minute, but nothing came of it.
Then with Demuria off the pitch injured, McAdden came for a free kick from the left, failed to get it, and prostrate on the ground saw the partially-cleared ball struck against the bar.
A real let off.
And still Dorchester came looking for a winner.
It was desperate stuff now, backs to the wall and each whipped in corner looked dangerous and in the 84th minute McAdden produced s great take from an in-swinging delivery in the still swirling wind.
Bennett, Johnston-Schuster and Wohlfiel all picked up bookings in the torrid closing stages.
And in the second minute of the four minutes of stoppage time McAdden did well to parry a fierce shot then bravely threw himself at the ball on the rebound.
And so it ended 1-1 and we remain 16th in the table.
It was a disappointing result on a disappointing night.
The positive is we could have had the game sewn up by half time.
The negative is that we failed to do so and that the visitors rallied second half.
We are AWAY to them in the FA Trophy on Saturday now – the only positive omen is that we won 0-3 there in the same competition last season.
We desperately need to start doing better on the road for, as tonight illustrated, we can’t win every single home game.
Match Report by Ian Davies