Basingstoke Town 6 – 2 Tiverton Town Saturday 27th January 2018
Five-goal Sam Argent will rightly steal the headlines but, superb and ruthless in the second half as Argent was, his was simply one of many good performances.
For Basingstoke Town simply tore apart Tiverton Town in the second 45 to record a resounding 6-2 victory here at The Camrose today.
On a typically cold, wet and miserable January Saturday afternoon, Manager Terry Brown set up with a 4-4-2 with Colm McAdden in goal, Tim Wohlfiel right back, Dan Bayliss left back, Shane Hollamby and Guri Demuria centre backs, Sam Smart wide right, Ashleigh Artwell wide left, George Bennett and Jack McKnight central midfield, Sam Argent and Callum Bunting up front.
We had Tiverton on the back foot from the first whistle.
A minute in and Smart won a corner, but the keeper caught Bennett’s in-swinger and cleared.
In the seventh minute, Bunting, who really put himself about today and whose link-up play was much improved, won us another.
They came to nothing, but almost immediately afterwards a sublime Bunting flick on released Argent who burst through, and was brought down by the keeper to give us a penalty.
Argent made no mistake with the spot kick, sending the keeper the wrong way as he drilled the ball home low to the keeper’s right.
Tiverton were paralysed to respond and we continued to dominate.
In the 12th minute, Bennett, simply magnificent today in central midfield, fired over the bar from distance.
The Yeovil Unit was tormenting the Tiverton back line whenever he had the ball and in the 17th minute sent a fierce effort just over the woodwork from a tight angle on the left.
Artwell was also trying to be inventive though he looked like a player who hasn’t had much game time lately.
In the 21st minute there was a goalmouth scramble which Tiverton somehow cleared.
The visitors were struggling to get into the game but, in the 27th minute, they did have a free kick deflected for a corner.
But it was still all us and on the half hour Smart, who had a cracking game but looked frustrated at times first half, whipped a wicked ball in from the left, cutting onto his right foot which eluded everyone.
Seconds earlier he looked annoyed not to be released by Argent when making a run.
In the 33rd minute more great work from Smart who burst forward and into the area on the left before neatly supplying Bennett on the overlap whose decent low ball in was just cleared.
At the other end, in truth, we weren’t looking entirely polished in central defence at times but Tiverton were dismally failing to exploit any weakness in our clearing of our lines.
Indeed they were getting frustrated.
The keeper was already on a yellow for the penalty and in the 36th minute Smart was fouled 25 yards out after latching onto another Bunting flick on and another yellow was produced.
And 60 seconds later another Tiverton name went in the book after a foul on McKnight.
In the 40th minute Artwell was away, but looked a bit ring rusty on the ball and was dispossessed.
And in the 42nd minute more good work from Bennett before Argent bent an effort wide, cutting inside onto his right foot from the left.
Further chances were wasted in the 43rd and 44th minutes and, at the interval, we were 1-0 up but in truth we had lacked cutting edge in the opposition final third and one should have been three or four.
On the bright side, Tiverton looked like they wouldn’t score if we played until midnight.
The second half didn’t start particularly more promisingly as, in the 47th minute, McKnight shot wildly over from the right after cutting inside onto his left foot.
But it mattered not as a minute later probably the key moment in the game.
Argent picked up the ball on the turn on the edge of the area, moved into the box and the clumsiest of innocuous challenges from behind was enough to floor him for a second spot kick.
It was, for sure, a penalty, but it was a soft one for the visitors to concede.
Argent put his second spot kick same place as the first and, though the keeper guessed correctly this time, it was right into the corner for 2-0.
Tiverton hadn’t looked like scoring once, let alone two or three times, and had a mountain to climb.
They tried, though, and in the 52nd minute after a Demuria error, Bayliss, who had a far better game at left back today, blocked the resulting shot.
Two minutes later and it really was all over as Smart showed blinding pace on the right to intercept a pass before feeding Argent whose low shot across the keeper from 15 yards out inside the box made it 3-0.
We were rampant now and on the hour good work from Artwell won a corner on the left.
And on 62 Bennett supplied Bunting inside the area, whose low left foot at the keeper won another corner.
That was cleared, but only to Demuria who delivered a sublime cross from the right byline to Bunting whose shot was blocked.
Tiverton won a couple of corners in the 66th minute, but they came to nothing.
We were pushing forward looking for more and in the 70th minute more great work and skill from Demuria won us a free kick just inside the Tiverton half on the right.
Up steps Bennett and his delivery was just superb, a peach of a ball into the box which was met by a terrific Argent header at the far post back across the keeper to make it 4-0.
Tiverton were on their knees and just two minutes later, from a Bunting flick on, Smart showed more brilliant pace down that right channel before delivering the most unselfish pass across the area to the unmarked Argent who clinically made it 5-0.
Only at five down did Tiverton come to life and start to mount a serious goal threat.
In the 76th minute Hollamby might have been lucky not to concede a penalty as he had his arms all over a player in the box but the referee gave a corner instead.
In the 77th minute McAdden made a great block.
But in the 78th minute the visitors got a goal back from a header from a corner.
In the 79th minute Ben Wright replaced five-goal Argent who left the field to rapturous applause.
And we weren’t done as, two minutes later, Smart burst clear in the centre before feeding Artwell, who twisted and turned on the edge of the box before finding Bennett square who produced a great finish to beat the keeper low to his right.
The Yeovil Unit was exultant and it was shirt over head before a sliding celebration in front of the BTG.
Bennett was replaced by Michael Atkinson on 84 minutes to end a superb shift and on 87 McKnight delivered an excellent cross field switching ball to Smart whose good strike was tipped over the bar for a corner.
To be fair Tiverton never gave up and in the 88th minute McAdden made a really good save low to his right as they cut in from the right and got a left-footed shot away.
A minute later, Harry Long replaced Artwell, who had done better second half.
End-to-end stuff in the closing stages and in the first of three minutes stoppage time Tiverton got another one back as a corner was cleared but the ball back in was not.
But, as the library-level silence that greeted both visitors goals attested, it mattered not.
We had, as Kevin Miller succinctly and hilariously put it as we left the ground, “dicked ‘em.”
Tiverton, as I suggested at the time to the ire of their fans who read our forum, might just be the worst team to top the Southern Premier this season.
But you can only beat what is in front of you and today, in a a scintillating display, Brown’s boys reminded the likes of myself that there is no such thing as a non-competitive game of football, the result always matters, and there is always something to play for.
Passion, pride – and entertaining the paying punters.
Brown’s boys, under the touchline guidance of Jason Bristow, did all of the above today.
In this form, any team in this league need to watch out.
Match Report by Ian Davies