Evo-Stick League South Premier Division South Monday 27th August 2018
Basingstoke Town 2 – 1 Gosport Borough Attendance 397
The “Second Coming Of Jason Bristow” bandwagon rolls inexorably on.
On an unseasonably chilly August Bank Holiday afternoon here at The Camrose, that belatedly broke into winning sunshine, the impression that the Manager could stage a title-winning return to the hot seat gathered pace as Basingstoke Town deservedly beat Gosport Borough 2-1 after a scintillating first half display in which they took their chances and Gosport failed to take enough of theirs.
Buoyed by giving hitherto bogey team Frome a timely 1-4 clobbering down in the West Country Bristow set up with a 4-2-3-1 with Colm McAdden in goal, Dean Stow right back, Shane Hollamby and Dan Bayliss centre backs, Jim Orvis left back, Charlie Kennedy and George Bennett holding, Sam Smart and Zidane Akers either side of playmaker Sam Deadfield, and Sam Argent up top.
The refinanced visitors started well and in the very first minute from a throw in on the left, from the ball in they sent a volley high over the bar.
The home defence was already looking nervy.
But, in the fifth minute, after sublime link-up play on the left involving Deadfield, Akers and Bennett the latter delivered the perfect cross from the byline which was met at the near post by a deft header back across the keeper by Argent for one nil.
Rattled by that, from the restart Gosport soon lost possession and an exquisite Deadfield through ball to Akers released the number 11, who cut inside but his deflected shot was straight at the keeper.
In the eighth minute it was Deadfield again – he supplied Smart wide right and his cross/shot was tipped over the bar.
But it wasn’t all one way traffic.
On his return to The Camrose, 38-year-old Gosport Player/Manager Craig McAllister in the tenth minute had an improvised toe poke well saved by McAdden low to his right.
And from the resulting corner a looping header from the veteran former Btfc forward hit the bar.
Despite this, Btfc continued to hold the edge in exchanges.
Both sides were committed and in the 18th minute first McAllister then Deadfield were hurt in separate aerial challenges.
Btfc’s defence was holding up quite well, but there is a lack of pace on the right side of our back four – neither Stow nor Hollamby, good ball-playing defenders though they are, are exactly rapid – and Gosport had clearly done their homework and constantly sought to exploit it.
In the 20th minute a ball over the top and in behind on the left (our right) of the area put their number 11 clean through but his low shot flew wide of McAdden’s left post.
That was a real let off.
Three minutes later deja vu as the 11 was put in again one on one, but the advancing McAdden saved with his feet.
McAdden did well to block, but the shot was straight at him and the reality is that the 11 should again have done better.
A minute after this McAdden, under pressure from some for his command of aerial delivery’s caught a high ball which was goalbound from deep on the right.
The visitors had squandered chances to equalise – or even lead – and in the 26th minute they were made to pay for it.
Deadfield supplied Smart on the right, the pacey predator did great work to get into the box then he delivered a low square ball back to Deadfield who turned and finished clinically for 2-0.
It was no more than Deadfield deserved.
I and others had detected a flash or two of temperament and dissent towards management from him in his first season, but by season three he has matured and put that behind him and he was the best player on the pitch today.
And just two minutes later yet another simply delightful Deadfield ball to release Akers who was clean through, and frankly should have killed off the game, but shot straight at the keeper.
I like Akers loads, but he looks less than clinical in front of goal and it has to be said he cuts inside onto his right foot one hell of a lot and it gets predictable.
Show us you’ve got a serviceable left peg, please, fella.
That said in the 29th minute Akers set Bennett who fired just over the bar from 25 yards out just to the left of the area.
Three minutes later, Orvis, solid at left back, delivered a decent cross, though also cutting in onto his right.
Gosport started to deliver a bit of pressure now.
On 37 they won a free kick 25 yards out to the left of the area.
That was wasted, but in the 42nd minute they were howling for an indirect free kick in the box after what admittedly did look like a back pass to McAdden who picked up.
A minute later and a deft McAllister dink to put the 11 in yet again in that vulnerable Stow/Hollamby channel and this time it was third time lucky as he finished to make it 2-1 to give the visitors a way back into the game at the interval.
Dan Collier replaced Akers at half time, with Bennett moving to that advanced wide left position.
Gosport had to replace their starting keeper with a “keeper who’s bit a keeper” forward, a development we frankly failed to fully exploit in the second half.
A minute in and a warning for us as a shot from the right flew wide across McAdden.
And in the 51st minute disaster averted as from a low ball across the area from the right, McAdden couldn’t gather and, with our keeper prostrate on the ground, only a brilliant Hollamby intercepting block prevented an equaliser.
Hollamby isn’t the quickest, but his positional sense – as well as his Libero ball play – is top drawer and Hollamby saved the win right there in that moment.
We were still dangerous, though, and in the 53rd minute Deadfield released Smart after an Argent interception but though the number 7 advanced into the area his shot went tamely wide.
Gosport were getting stretched now and in the 55th minute a bad foul on Argent from behind drew the first yellow card.
Three minutes later a second yellow after Smart was cynically held back after great link up play from Stow (again simply majestic going forwards today) and Deadfield on the right.
From the wicked Bennett in-swinging ball in a goalmouth scramble, but it was cleared.
And on the hour the ever-improving Bennett had a shout for a penalty after being put clean through, but the Pierluighi Collina lookalike referee wasn’t interested.
A better spell for Btfc and on 62 Smart was fouled on the left of the edge of the area and yet another yellow was produced.
Smart is, for sure, a menace to both defenders and the workload of the FA disciplinary admin department as he draws card after card for opposing defences.
Stow’s whipped in free kick was straight at the keeper.
In the 66th minute Collier was retrospectively booked after a foul where advantage was played.
A minute later, after a short spell going long, we got the ball down and won a corner on the right.
From this, Bayliss, solid today, attempted a dinked volley at the near post which went wide.
We weren’t killing off the game and in the 69th Kennedy, getting forward more, dragged an effort wide where he might have done better.
Frustration was creeping in and a few balls were starting to go awry.
Gosport sensed a chance and won two corners in quick succession in the 73rd minute.
Fortunately they came to nothing.
A minute later McKnight replaced Bennett, with Kennedy moving to a more advanced position and Smart switching more to the left.
It made little difference and it became a bit disjointed and more than once the chance to release the marauding Stow on the overlap on the right was spurned.
But the talented former playmaker/winger turned right back did get the ball in the 77th minute and Stow delivered a great cross ball only for Argent to head over the bar.
The game started to get stretched now, as Gosport desperately chased the game, and in the 79th minute we wasted a chance to make the 3pts safe.
Yet more great work from Deadfield whose run took him into the box on the right.
A neat shot with the outside of his right foot was saved by the keeper but the rebound should have been buried yet Argent got right underneath the ball and hit the bar from short range when it was easier to score.
I’m a massive Argent fan, and he did his job for the day with a fab finish in the first half and hard work throughout, but there will be times when we will need him to be more clinical than that.
Five minutes later he got a knock and was replaced by Ben Wright with 84 minutes on the clock.
Gosport tried to make the time count and in the 86th minute a low ball across the area from the left eluded everyone.
And from the high cross back in from the right, which McAdden failed to come and claim, a header thankfully over the bar.
Game management now, we kept possession well in their final third and there was still time for Deadfield to curl one over the bar and wide after cutting inside from the right onto his favoured left foot.
But one last bit of danger from the visitors too as in the 89th minute a low cross from the right eluded the mostly wasteful Gosport number 11.
Four minutes stoppage time came and went, the whistle blew and 3pts were secured – Btfc go fourth tonight.
The pint half empty will say we remain far too open at the back to win this league and that if Gosport had taken their chances they might have got a point or even won today.
The pint half full will say there is no more exciting attacking force in this league than us and what odds a “You score four? We’ll score more!” 5-4 win at some point this season?
That’s just the way we roll at Btfc, I fall into the pint half full category and I think a promotion challenge is a massive possibility this season.
Match Report by Ian Davies with adjustments by Martin French..