Bet Victor South Division One South 3rd September 2019
Basingstoke Town 1 – 2 Larkhall Athletic (The Larks) Attendance 231
Where: The Simplyhealth Stadium, Hillier’s Way, Winchester
Fight back against ten-man Larkhall falls short!
Martin Kuhl with a number of players missing through various reasons started with a line-up of; 1.Chris Rackley, 2. Aiden Harris 3. Adam Everiss, 4. Dean Stow (Capt), 5. Andrew Charsley, 6. Arnold Linturn, 7. Harrison Cliff, 8. Ben Cook 9. Ben Wright, 10. Claudio Herbert, 11. Reece Rusher
On the bench; D’Andre Brown, Riccardo Andrady and Mikey Davis
With the skies grey and overcast and after the defeat at lowly Slimbridge, we got underway against high-flying Larkhall and Stoke were on it from the start forcing a free-kick inside the first two minutes that’s headed clear.
We are straight back on it and a good cross is half cleared and is returned in the box, where Harrison Cliff makes a challenge, the keeper initially gets a touch on the ball but then takes out Cliff and the referee awards the penalty. The arguments and complaints by the whole visiting team, about the penalty decision go on for several minutes before Ben Wright takes and misses the penalty, which is saved by the keeper down low to his right.
The goalkeeper who was an utter disgrace all night tells the linesman to XXXX off and this is the start of a night of bad language and abusive comments by some Stoke fans and the Larkhall players.
Back to the game and Stoke are back on the attack but the move breaks down and Larkhall have their first attack which is snuffed out by Stow’s strong tackle.
Stoke create another chance on 20mins after a Ben Cook cross fails to find Wright and is blocked out for a corner. Stoke win the header at the far post from the corner, but it just fails to find Wright and Larkhall clear.
Stoke again win the ball back in midfield as the shouting and moaning by Larkhall players intensifies, but they are also starting to win the ball further up the field now and on 26 mins they break down the right wing and send a cross into the 6-yard box where a Larks forward is first on it and he hooks it home past the diving Rackley in goal. Basingstoke 0 – 1 Larkhall.
Yet another game is turning where we fail to take our chances and then go behind and unfortunately more unsavoury crowd issues along with us going behind.
Stoke still seem to be the team on the attack, but it is the visitors who create two quick chances. The first a neat move down the left that ends up with a poor shot, then 30 seconds later after a poor pass, a cross into our box is fortunately hacked over the bar.
On 35mins it is us again as good work from Herbert finds Rusher whose shot is blocked by the keeper’s legs, but it wouldn’t have counted as the linesman flag was up for offside.
On 36 mins and that should have been two for Larkhall as another move finds their forward with a chance to head the ball 5yds out, but it’s straight at Stow who is able to clear.
These attacks just seem to be the set-up for the Larks second goal as on 37 mins, a shot a hopeful shot from 30yds is too good for a diving Stoke keeper and it finds the net and the visitors have doubled their lead.
Despite an initial “Here we go look again” look on the players, we are the team to create the next chance on 38 mins as a neat pass finds Rusher, who turns his player and just fails to find Wright inside the box.
Then following that attack the next controversy erupts as Herbert is scythed down by a two-footed challenge by a Larkhall player and yet again their players surround the referee claiming his innocence. The referee to his credit takes his time and quite rightly gives him a straight red card and he trudges off to upset to the usual “Cheerio, Cheerio, Cheerio” chant.
The free-kick is sent deep into the box and although we win that first header, Larkhall are able to clear. However, we win the ball and it is again pushed into the penalty area, where Wright’s late tackle brings about a frenzy of complaints and pressure by Larkhall players to even up the sides. Again, the referee after an eternity of complaints, rightly hands out just a yellow card for Wright.
The few minutes of injury-time are played with a lot of heated tackles, but the referee finally blows the halftime whistle and despite hard work we trail 0-2.
No changes by Stoke as we get the second-half underway against ten man Larkhall and it’s Stoke who attack down the left with Everiss and Herbert, but nothing of any note comes from it.
It’s time for a change as Aiden Harris is replaced by Riccardo Andrady on 52 mins.
Stoke for the next five minutes are now encamped in Larkhall’s half, winning two corners which are defended, one blocked two yards off the line and another which is hacked clear, only to be returned straight away, but to the keeper’s arms.
It’s Everiss who goes in the book as his aerial challenge upends the Larkhall forward.
Further attacks on 65 & 66 mins are again stopped by outstretched legs and we are almost made to pay as the Larks break behind the clear class of their forward Lewis Powell, who turns two defenders and sends a shot that Rackley has to push away.
The next five minutes we are still the team full of running, but can’t create that clear-cut chance. This period also includes Harrison Cliff being replaced by D’Andre Brown.
Larkhall then win a free-kick outside the box. The powerful shot has Rackley beaten but thunders off the underneath of the crossbar and away.
Larkhall then create two more chances, more unnecessary screams by Larkhall players for a handball in the box and a free-kick to the far post that our keeper stays on the line for and fortunately an open forward heads over the bar from 4yds.
All the play is back in Larkhall’s half, but despite claims for a goal that is blocked on the line and shots wide of the post, we are struggling to get that vital goal back into the game.
Now in the final 10 minutes of play further unnecessary time-wasting by the visitors goes unpunished.
On 83 mins we again could have scored, but again the chance goes begging.
More chances on 85, and 86, as Larkhall somehow keep it the ball out.
Then two chances in the space of 10 seconds, the first from Wright that is pushed out, wished is followed up by a Dean Stow off the bar.
Then on 88 mins, Stoke have a lifeline, as an Everiss shot more in hope, as the keeper leaden footed on the line as it flies into the far corner of the net GOAL! Basingstoke Town 1 – 2 Larkhall Athletic
Stoke create further shots as we move deep into injury-time and a final shot flies past the far post.
The referee calls time on the game and it’s another hard-working loss for Stoke.
Final Score: Basingstoke Town 1 – 2 Larkhall Athletic
Match Report by Martin French..