Match Preview: Southern League Division One South
When: Saturday 24th October 2020 Kick-off 3pm
Where: Winklebury Sports Complex, Winklebury Way, Basingstoke. RG23
AFC Totton (Nickname – The Stags), Average 2019-20 Home Attendance 325
Admission Prices: Adult £10 Concessions £6 Kids £1 (MATCH SOLD OUT)
Not only do we return to the League fixtures but we return to the Town of Basingstoke after that 15 month adventure in Winchester and our temporary home at Winklebury.
Our first game back in Basingstoke, could not be a much bigger league game as AFC Totton took over top spot from us on Wednesday night, and thus will be a first versus second top of the table clash.
The away tie back in September last year, was Dan Brownlie’s first game in the Manager’s role, after taking over from Martin Kuhl, and a game that never really got going, and included a penalty save by then keeper Chris Rackley, ultimately ended in a 0-0 stalemate, but Stoke’s second point of the season.
The home tie back in mid-January, was one of those games where early missed chances a questionable penalty decision ended with 0-2 scoreline. The game was also remembered by the referee’s refusal to change his kit despite it looking very similar to the Stags black and yellow kit, that clearly caused confusion not only on the pitch but in the crowd as well.
The Stags are now managed by Glenn Howes who upped sticks along with the money man at Blackfield & Langley to move a few miles up the road to rival Totton at the start of this season, and it was Howes who also brought a few of the players along with him.
As stated above Totton played mid-week coming back from an early goal to beat Larkhall Athletic on the road 1-3, which moved them to the top of the league on goal difference. They have however, played one more game than your Basingstoke side and sit with a current record of Played 6 Won 4 Drawn 1 Lost 1 GF 16 GA 4 with 13pts.
Prior to the Larkhall game the Stags have played four games at their Snows Stadium beating Barnstaple 3-0 and Bristol Manor Farm 3-0, a 1-1 draw against Bideford and a 1-2 loss against Winchester City.
This leaves them with an impressive away record winning 0-5 on the road at Willand Rovers, apart from the Larkhall result two days ago.
In the FA Cup they got thumped 5-1 at Binfield, whilst seven days ago they lost 6-5 on penalties in the FA Trophy to Frome Town at home after drawing 2-2 draw in normal time.
Their leading league goal-scorer is the vastly experienced striker Brett Williams with 6 goals on the season. Williams 32, who started at Eastleigh before being signed for £50,000 by Reading, even though he never played for them, also had spells at Northampton, Rotherham and a wealth of experience at Conference level for both Woking and Aldershot. He led the Conference goal-scoring charts in 2013-14 with 24 goals, and has also had spells at Forest Green Rovers, Stevenage, Woking and Torquay Utd. He has however missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, and it will be interesting if he plays this Saturday. He is ably backed up by 28 year-old Craig Feeney with 3 goals who joined them from Winchester City, plus young 18 year-old Ethan Taylor, also with three league goals.
They have an experienced defence, including club player Stephane Zubar plus Adam Tomasso and Ryan Oatley who joined from Blackfield & Langley in May, and have conceded just four goals from those six games. That is a rare feat in a league where goals are in abundance.
Last season they finished in (16th), with a record of Played 27 Won 7 Drawn 8 Lost 12 GF 39 GA 53 with 29pts before the season was halted.
Well last Saturday, we ended this years participation in the Cup competitions after conceding two second-half goals in a 2-1 disappointing FA Trophy loss at Moneyfields.
This leads us to our first home game back In Basingstoke on the artificial surface at Winklebury.
Your unbeaten Stoke now in second place, have an overall record of PLD 5 Won 4 Drawn 1 Lost 0 GF 18 GA 10 with 13pts, will have striker George Hallahan returning from injury. George has 5 league goals on the season. He is joined by another George, midfielder George Reid, McKoy Palmer and Bradley Wilson all on 3 goals.
What we do know is that Totton are going to have to deal with the speed and trickery of these two wingers along with the effervescent Bradley Wilson. Dylan Ive has done little wrong, but maybe pushed to the sidelines.
In midfield depending on Simon Dunn’s injury, the midfield could see Lewis Hayden taking on the captaincy role alongside Ben Cook and the radio-controlled dart Harrison Cliff.
Dan, has a number of decisions to make around the defence, which includes who will start at left back Ben Jefford or Adam Everiss and will the returning Shaun Dallimore earn a slot at centre-back. Your right-back is James Smith, whose runs down the right wing and could provide some much-needed relief when we are under pressure from Totton. Either Jefford or Everiss, could earn a role in the midfield if required.
Goalkeeper Julian Schwarzer, improves in confidence every game and must start. This is despite the experienced Paul Strudley pushing him for the starting role. Julian has already become a fan favourite amongst the Stoke crowd for some of the amazing saves he has made this season.
Forget about last week’s cup result our league form is now important and we face a tough first game back in Basingstoke against a well-run and experienced opponent in AFC Totton.
It is a sell-out, the first of many we hope, so let’s get behind Dan and the Boys, enjoy the experience and hope we come away with the three points and head back to the top of the table.
Match Preview by Martin French..