The BIGFREEBET Cup 1st round match – Tuesday 3rd October 2017
On a night when a number of Stoke fans stayed at home either because the price of the £9 admission or the belief that Terry Brown would field a team mostly from the academy, your intrepid away match reporter took up pen and paper once again as it seems Basingstoke takes the BIGFREEBET cup seriously as it became clear once the Fleet Town volunteer kindly handed out some teamsheets prior to the start of the match.
Pre-match pitch report: Noticeably uneven and very bumpy with a sharp slope away from the Crookham Road end.
Terry decided to start with Aaron Holt in goal, Tim Wohlfiel at right-back, Guri Demuria & Dan Bayliss as the centre-backs and young Jordan Goater at left-back. A midfield of Dan Collier, Sam Deadfield, Michael Atkinson and Ashleigh Artwell, with new-boy Callum Bunting starting up-top alongside captain for the evening Ben Wright.
The bench fielded with the likes of George Bennett, Colm McAdden, Jack McKnight, Sam Smart & Shane Hollamby.
Well the game started very slowly, well no it didn’t actually this time, as just after 2 mins 38 seconds (according to the very old Welsh Fleet announcer), a sublime one-two passing move from Deadfield to Ben Wright, sent through Callum Bunting clean on goal who took his time and carefully slotted home his and Basingstoke’s first goal of the evening. Fleet Town 0 – 1 Basingstoke Town
Just 3 mins later, Stoke win a corner, Wright’s corner end’s up at the far post and Bayliss’ header narrowly goes wide.
Basingstoke continue to attack and on 12 mins, Bunting is put clean through, but with the ball unable to roll evenly, Callum’s shot is hit straight at the Fleet keeper who makes the save.
On 16 mins, and worth noting, Ben Wright wins two headers in the space of 20 seconds in the middle of the pitch against the Fleet No.5.
Then on 18 mins, Wright is fed the ball inside the box, who uses his full-size turns and hits a shot that the keeper gets a hand to but is unable to prevent the ball from trickling over the line. Fleet Town 0 – 2 Basingstoke Town
22 mins in, and Fleet’s first real attack, but Bayliss comes across to the left flank and not only wins the tackle, but also wins a free-kick for the late challenge on him.
24 mins in, Collier breaks down the right and his cross finds Wright, but his shot is blocked by defender and keeper away for a corner. Nothing comes from the resulting corner.
Another attack from Stoke, this time ends up with Bayliss fires a shot 2yds wide, which your match reporter dodges out the way and hits Steve Taylor behind me.
26 mins in and Basingstoke are forced to make their first change, as Deadfield limps off injured and is replaced by Jack McKnight.
Basingstoke continue to attack but with no real threats, until 42 mins, when Bunting is put through yet again, his trickery is too much for the Fleet defender who brings him down and the young referee points to the spot.
Bunting is up and off like a whippet to retrieve the ball. He clearly wants the spot-kick. After what seems an age (with your match reporter, keeping to his tradition of not watching the penalty kick, Bunting smashes home the ball home low to the right of the keeper. Video proof supplied by Steve Taylor.
Half-time; Fleet Town 0 – 3 Basingstoke Town. During the break Stoke decide to rest Dan Bayliss and make their second change bringing on Bennett as his replacement.
48 mins in, and with Stoke playing up the hill this half, another good move ends when Wright’s shot is well blocked by a Fleet defender. Fleet break down the left, but this is well covered by Wohlfiel who wins the goal-kick after his tackle rebounds off the Fleet forward.
Fleet are now attacking with purpose as back-to back attacks, ends with a Fleet corner that is narrowly headed wide at the far post.
Basingstoke now break down the left with Artwell, who decides to pass rather than shoot, but Wright can’t get the ball to stop bobbling on this pitch and it is cleared away.
Then on 53 mins, Stoke break down the right and win a corner. The kick is met by a Demuria header, that bounces back to him, who then smashes the ball into the ground and bounces up and hits the underneath of the cross bar, which finally ends up in the keeper’s hands, who without hesitation kicks the ball down the pitch, where the
Stoke are short at the back and seem to fall all over themselves as the Fleet forward, takes his time, sets himself and then fires the ball past the stranded Holt. Fleet Town 1 – 3 Basingstoke Town.
Basingstoke, need to settle down and play the football as in the first half.
Then on 60 mins, Callum Bunting gets his well deserved hat-trick, after he breaks away from the Fleet defence and crashes a left foot shot past the helpless Fleet keeper. Fleet Town 1 – 4 Basingstoke Town
66 mins in, Aaron Holt then makes a mistake by picking up a short back pass, which the referee awards Fleet an indirect free-kick six yards out from the goal-line. The kick is blocked by Holts knee away for a corner. The corner is caught by Holt.
Guri Demuria then shows some skill, as he breaks away from two Fleet players and gets the ball upfield where it finally breaks to Artwell who shoots just wide.
Artwell is now showing the promise the Stoke fans expect as he breaks away again, this time passing to Wright who turns to shoot, but the ball is smashed into the net by Michael Atkinson, or so I thought. The goal is given to Jack McKnight, who seems more likely to have finished like that. Fleet Town 1 – 5 Basingstoke Town.
A minute later (74), another run by Artwell, who cuts inside and sends a lovely cross to the waiting Collier, who confidently heads the ball back across past the keeper into the corner of the net. Stunning move and finish. Fleet Town 1 – 6 Basingstoke Town.
Further breaks by Collier down the right or Artwell on the left finish up with no real threats on goal. Then on 85 mins, another break by Artwell who fires a lovely cross, but Collier can only head wide.
Atkinson is taken out on the touchline by the Fleet No.3 who ends the second Fleet player in the book.
Then a minute into injury-time a Bennett mistake, allows Fleet to break clear, and the forward coolly takes his time and slots the ball home. The final whistle is blown.
Fleet Town 2 – 6 Basingstoke Town. Attendance: 139 which over half are Basingstoke fans.
Positives – Bunting looks like the finisher that we have craved for and should fit in well with Smart and Wright. Collier had a better game, especially coming forward, Solid performances by Atkinson & Bayliss, whilst Artwell impressed for the last 30 minutes of the match.
Negatives – None really, when you win 6 – 2 and with Hollamby, Johnson-Schuster & Kennedy to return for this Saturday’s ‘Football for a Fiver’ match against Banbury.
All fans who read this need to get down to the ground this Saturday and support our club.
Match Report by Martin French..