Match Preview: Barnstaple Town v Basingstoke Town Saturday 3rd October 2020

Match Preview: Bet Victor Division One South

Barnstaple Town  v  Basingstoke Town

When: Saturday 3rd October 2020 Kick-off 3pm

Where: Mill Road, Barnstaple, Devon. EX31 1DJ

Barnstaple (Nickname –  The Barum ), Average 2019-20 Home Attendance 159

Basingstoke head back on the road once again, but holding a 100% record, having won at Slimbridge and then last night at Larkhall. This time we have the extra-long journey for both players and fans into North Devon to take on Barnstaple Town.

Last season, having lost to them at home 3-4 on the opening day of the season, we both then battled for the rest of the season to get off the bottom of the table, and if not for our victory down at Barnstaple in January, then we could have been sitting bottom, when the season was halted. However, on that sunny but gale-force like wind day, we strode into a two-goal lead by halftime, through an own-goal by the Barum keeper from a Ben Cook corner, and then a looped header from Dean Stow. However, many fans worried that facing the strong wind in the second-half would be our come-uppance, but we were strong in mind and tackle for that second 45 minutes, and if anything should have increased our lead.

As for Barnstaple, they have started the season the way they finished last season, with two losses from two games. Starting the season at one of the league favourites AFC Totton, they left Hampshire with a 3-0 defeat, then on Tuesday night, their first home game saw them lose 2-3 against Cinderford Town, conceding the winner in injury-time. Both goals in that game came from midfielder Nathan Cooper.

This means they currently sit just one place above the bottom spot, which is held by Mangotsfield Utd, who have a slightly worse goal-difference.

Last season as I say they finished bottom with an overall record of PLD 27 W 5 D 1 L 21 GF 26 GA 74 16 Pts

In the FA Cup they beat little Helston Athletic 2-0, but like us they lost in the next round losing 2-3 at home to Wimborne Town.

Their playing squad contains their leading striker from last season, 26-year-old Saddam Bello (6 goals), who is back for another season with the Barum, but the rest of the squad remain a mystery to me, as there is no player details on their website.

But looking at the ages provided, they will again be an older team than us.

To our unbeaten Basingstoke Town team, we will travel to Devon, on the back of two hard-working performances, that must instil some real confidence in the team as they face another game just three days later after the Larkhall victory.

We currently sit in 3rd place and are one of just four teams with a 100% record.

Starting in goal, Julian Schwarzer made some fine saves, and one pin-point save against Larkhall, and his back four Adam Everiss, Daryl Wollers, Scott Armsworth and James Smith look set to be in the starting line-up. I thought Wollers and Smith were especially outstanding against Larkhall, and Smith with tireless runs up and down the right-wing, especially in the second-half, caused the Larkhall cart-horse No.3 problems everytime he came over the halfway line.

The midfield of Captain Lewis Hayden, Ben Cook, McKoy Palmer and George Reid, struggled in the first-half due to the continuous rain to hold onto the ball at times, but as the game wore on and especially in the second-half they looked more solid and advanced forward, executing some lovely flowing moves down both flanks. Harrison Cliff who started on the bench on wednesday, could earn a starting role this saturday, if an effort to put more bite in midfield.

I think Lewis, is doing a fine job as temporary captain for Simon Dunn, and the pre-season expectations of him in midfield, are being confirmed.

Again, some players don’t want to put their foot through the ball when shooting, and this prevents us from putting the opposition keeper under more pressure.

But being honest, having scored 8 goals in two league games, should we really be complaining, as the front two, George Hallahan, who already has 4 league goals on the season, and Bradley Wilson, who somehow hasn’t gotten off the mark, but has done everything else, will look to add goals against a Barnstaple defence that allows an average of 3 goals a game.

Our control and speed on Wednesday night was again on show, and depending on the pitch conditions, I expect that to be a real asset on Saturday.

Despite the heavy rain, I’m expecting a good turnout of fans like at Slimbridge and Larkhall, and a number of our fans will be travelling down to Barnstaple and making a weekend of it.

The closest pub to the stadium is the Rolle Quay inn, and I would expect a number of fans will be in their pre-game on Saturday.

Safe journey down to both players and fans, and let’s come home with our 100% record still intact.

Match Preview by Martin French..