St Neots Town 2 – 1 Basingstoke Town – Saturday 25th November 2017
On a freezing cold but sunny day in St Neots, Basingstoke Town took on the 11 St Neots players and the referee as well.
I know we seem to com plain about the match referees, but yesterday’s was a shocker who was ably assisted by a one-sided linesman who helped kill off Stoke’s chance of a well-earned point.
Terry Brown’s boys playing in white today, the line-up for today was as follows; in goal McAdden, with a back four of Wohlfiel, Hollamby, Demuria and Bennett. In midfield was Kennedy (Captain for the day), Collier and McKnight, with the forwards Argent, Smart & Bunting.
The bench consisted of Wright, Johnson-Schuster, Goater
Basingstoke were straight into the attack and in the first minute as Argents pass to Bunting, whose shot is a weak one, but the keeper is able to scoop up the ball after mishandling an easy save.
3 mins in and a lovely ball from Wohlfiel over the top to Bunting, is well defended and is put out for our first corner of the game. George Bennett will be taking the corners and free-kicks with Wright on the bench and his corner is initially blocked, the ball is put back to Bennett whose second cross finds Bunting who chests it down but is unable to get a shot away as St Neots clear.
Stoke are initially taking control, but St Neots break down the right on 7 minutes and the ball is put out for a corner by Demuria. The corner comes to nothing.
10 minutes in and Basingstoke are back on the attack, with Smart (who is playing on the left today), breaks into the edge of the box, cuts inside but his shot is half-blocked and balloons up in the air and the keeper is able to catch it despite the pressure of Bunting.
St Neots are now coming into the game and all attacks are down the right, but all end up with nothing.
22 minutes in and we win a free-kick 30 yards out. Bennett swings the ball across to the far post where a decent header from Argent is well-tipped over the bar for a corner. The resulting corner becomes the first controversial decision, as a St Neots player in trying to clear allows the ball to rolldown his arm and clear it with the referee waving away the clear penalty decision.
However, with the ref possibly aware he has cocked-up, on 24 mins with Basingstoke back in St Neots box a blocked shot is stopped by a defender and the ref has given us a penalty this time.
As usual, with my back to the goal, Argent steps up and his shot to the keepers right, is half stopped by the keeper, but it still finds the net. St Neots Town 0 – 1 Basingstoke Town.
Our lead lasts just 2 minutes as St Neots again attack down Bennett on the right and the initial cross is blocked but the second cross is met by a header, which loops over McAdden and finds the net. St Neots Town 1 – 1 Basingstoke Town.
St Neots attack again down our left and it seems Bennett is getting overrun, but the cross is headed just over the bar with McAdden stranded on his line.
32 minutes in and Stoke are attacking again, as we win another free-kick. Bennett’s floating cross is met by Bunting, but he can’t get a clean head on the ball and it ends up for a goal-kick.
34 minutes in and St Neots team, possibly rehearsing for parts on Holby City, as their No.9 goes down claiming he’s been elbowed in the face. As soon as he trudges off the pitch, he seems to be able to find his fitness as he sprints 40yds onto the pitch, literally 10 seconds later. This will be the first of these attempts to influence the referee today.
38 mins in and the second controversial penalty decision as Smart breaks into the box, buts inside and appears to be cut down and the ref waves it away. Personally, I thought it was a 50/50 tackle, but fans down the side of the pitch are certain Smart had his legs taken away.
40 mins in and St Neots attack again down our left, but Hollamby and Demuria look secure and are able to pass the ball out of defence.
43 mins down and another Holby City actor is down, only to make an amazing recovery once he’s off the pitch.
St Neots attack again and a decent cross just flies past all the players.
Half-time St Neots Town 1 – 1 Basingstoke Town
The second-half begins as the Btg restart their singing behind the goal. NB. The St Neots keeper takes all the banter in a good-humoured manner and earns the respect of our fans. It’s a shame most other keepers can’t be like that.
49 mins in and a decent pass over the top again by Wohlfiel, sets Smart away who is hacked down by the St Neots No.5 and he goes in the book. Bennett’s cross to the far post to Argent whose touch inside is cleared away, and yet another defender is down. The St Neots female physio takes the Btg’s banter of their ponytailed defender in all good humour, as it’s clear there’s nothing wrong with him.
The next 5 minutes is a battle in the midfield until another St Neots player goes down with a head-injury. This is a clear injury and the game is stopped for about 3 minutes, while he receives treatment, before being replaced.
62 mins in Argent is pulled down as he breaks away, but the ref (St Neots No12), gives nothing and the ball is cleared away.
65 mins in, another corner taken by Bennett and another St Neots player is down injured.
NB2. The floodlights are on, but the middle of the pitch is in semi-darkness. The lights are worse than Kings Langley.
68 mins in and a decent cross again down our left is headed well clear by Demuria.
69 mins in and Basingstoke make their first change as Wright is on for the hard-working Bunting.
Just two minutes later and another controversial decision as an initial tackle by Bennett is followed-up by half a dozen St Neots players crowding around him. Wright comes to his defence, and a 30 second melee is followed by a discussion between the ref and the linesman. Wright, who hasn’t even had time to get his shirt dirty is given a red card and he’s off and we’re down to 10 men. Bennett also receives a yellow card.
Basingstoke make their change with Hollamby being replaced by Johnson-Schuster.
Just 3 mins later and the ref (St Neots No.12) gives them a penalty for a supposed late challenge. But McAdden makes a brilliant save down to his left and we remain level for the moment.
80 mins in and another St Neots player is down on the halfway line. He’s hobbling around, but then suddenly his amazing recovery allows him to take the free-kick. His free-kick is met by a St Neots player whose shot flies over the stand behind the goal and out of the ground.
83 mins and following St Neots pressure, Smart breaks down the right and his decent cross is superbly met by an Argent header, but the keeper makes a fantastic full-length diving save.
85 mins in and Smart is put through, but he can’t get the ball to roll right and his shot is blocked by the keepers legs.
87 mins in and we are down to 9 players as, a Bennett tackle is met with him being pushed by the St Neots forward. The ref races over and gives Bennett his second-yellow and he’s off. It’s now 12 against 9 men.
The game drifts into injury-time and Sam Smart proves why he is a fan favourite as he races 50yds across the pitch to chase down the St Neots keeper clearance who panics and hoofs the ball off into touch.
94 mins in and another St Neots attack, the cross is met by a St Neots header which not only goes back across the full-width of the goal, but also a further 10yds wide. The Btg sing “How wide do you want the goal”.
96 mins in and the St Neots crowd finally wake-up following more pressure in our box, a reckless tackle by a Stoke defender and the ref has pointed to the spot. McAdden is sent the wrong way this time and we are losing 2 – 1.
The ref kindly allows us to kick-off, but 98 mins in and he’s blown the final whistle.
Final Score: St Neots Town 2 – 1 Basingstoke Town Attendance 233
It is understood the ref will look at our match video with regards the Ben Wright incident, where he was sent off for an apparent head-butt. George Bennett’s 2nd yellow card was apparently for kicking the ball away, whilst being shoved by a St Neots player.
The St Neots keeper comes behind the goal and thanks us for what he states is the best away support they’ve had all-season.
Another decent away performance is ruined by the referee and ends up with zero points for the Stoke.
Match Report by Martin French