Match Preview: Basingstoke Town v Marlow Saturday 11th February 2023

Match Preview: Isthmian South Central Division
Basingstoke Town Vs Marlow
When: Saturday 11th February 2023 Kick-off 3pm
Where: Winklebury Stadium, Winklebury Way, Basingstoke. RG23 8BF
Marlow (Nickname – The Blues), Avg 2022-23 Home Att 213
Admission Prices: Adults £10, Concessions £7, U16’s £3, U12’s £1
Match Programmes £2

After a harder than expected game, where an initial two-goal lead was extinguished after goals by a battling Tooting side either side of the half, we were still able to change the course of the game, and we left Tooting with all three points and not only retain our seven-point lead at the top, but extend our winning streak to seven games.
This brings us to a tough match-up against playoff contenders Marlow at Winklebury, where back in October last year, after taking a two-goal lead into the break, things went awry as we conceded five second-half goals as we went onto to lose 5-2.

Our Opponents
The Blues continue to be managed by Mark Bartley, who in his playing career, played for Hayes, Slough Town, Burnham & Thame Utd, before starting his managerial career at Reading Town. He then joined Marlow winning promotion from the Hellenic League, and is now in his 10th season with the club.

Marlow dropped out of the playoff places to sixth, following Binfield’s late win against Uxbridge on Tuesday evening. Their record now sits at Pld 23 Won 12 Drawn 5 Lost 6 with 41pts.
Since the turn of the year, their form has been patchy, with just one win 3-2 at Guernsey, two draws Binfield & Thatcham Town, and two losses, 3-0 at Walton & Hersham, and last Saturday’s 3-1 home loss to Leatherhead.

The Marlow attack is led by pacy Naheer-Omar Nawaf who has eight goals on the season. He spent time at Windsor Fc, before joining this season. Ex-Chalfont St Peter striker Dawid Rogalski, now has seven goals on the season. Whilst ex-Ashford Town & Bracknell forward Aaron McLeish-White, now has six goals on the season.

The midfield area recently got a big upgrade when they signed ex-Crystal Palace, Stoke City, Hibernian and more recently Dorchester Town player Tom Soares. He scored on his debut via the penalty spot at Guernsey. They also signed Cameron Forde-Brown who came through the ranks at Southend Utd. Junaid Bell, has six goals this season, and joined from the John Madejski academy back in 2018. Ben Mulley, is another high intensity player, who came through the ranks at Slough Town, before joining the Blues this season. Tristan Campbell is a left-sided midfielder who has arrived via Beaconsfield, Highmoor-Ibis and Binfield, but missed most of the 20/21 season through injury. Another midfielder who has earned his place is Toby Raggett, who plays out wide and has three goals this season. Toby, previously played for Wokingham & Emmbrook, having previously been at Hartley Wintney. Louis Rogers is a composed midfielder or defensive player who signed following his release from Watford FC.

In defence is long-term defender Chris Ovenden who is a right-sided versatile defender or midfielder who joined from Henley Town, having previously played at Hartley Wintney. Experienced defender Alex Salmon is a tall and very quick defender who can play anywhere across the back four. Curtis Chapple, is a quick, hard tackling defender who likes to get forward and chips in with the odd important goal. George Ehui, is an attacking full-back who has previously played for Wycombe Wanderers, and Waltham Abbey amongst others.
In goal will be ex-Flackwell Heath and Basingstoke Town keeper Aaron Watkins who has been an ever present since signing for Marlow this season.

Our Basingstoke Town Side
After initially dominating the first half-hour and taking a two-goal lead, two neat Tooting moves pulled the game level and it was they who looked more like the team to take the lead, especially when they were awarded a penalty shortly after. But Paul Strudley who has made some important penalty saves in the past, stepped up once more and pushed the penalty away. Many will consider this save, pivotal as we then seemed to find renewed energy and looked the better side, as the game progressed and finally got our reward via Ben Cook’s winning goal.

This keeps us seven points clear at the top as we head into the first of two huge games against potential playoff opponents, with Marlow up first this Saturday.
Our league record now sits at an impressive Pld 24 Won 17 Drawn 2 Lost 5 with 53 points.

Bradley Wilson, still sits way ahead of the league goal-scoring with twenty-three goals despite missing out in the last two matches. George Reid & new signing Paul Hodges have picked up the slack, as Reid with the vital goal at Binfield and the first last Saturday now gives him fourteen on the season, whist Pau Hodges will added his first of hopefully many more going forward. Sam Argent continues to be provider for many of our goals.
With the strikeforce looking this set, it probably means Marcio Neves, will be one of the options off the bench along with Brody Peart. James Clark, back in full-training will hopefully be pushing for a place too.

Simon Dunn, continues to lead the team, and was integral in our first-half performance last week, and could see the key return of lynchpin Michael Atkinson, in either tomorrow or Tuesday’s game against Chertsey. Ben Cook’s role looks set, whilst being challenged by the energetic D’Andre Brown.
With Lewis Hayden possibly still regaining match fitness out on loan, it does give Dan an option to change the way we set-up, but an area, where another addition would strengthen this area, as we play the final ten weeks of the season.

The centre-back partnership of Scott Armsworth & Billy Upton looks set to continue, whilst Nathan Smart is a vastly experienced secure back-up on the bench. The right back role switches from week-to-week, so either Markus Johnson-Schuster or Ben Mason will wear the No.2 shirt. The left-back role looks to be Callum Winchcombe’s once more, which again leaves James Haworth, Dan Williamson & Aiden Lewis, as possible options off the bench.
Paul Strudley, who made that important penalty save last week will be the keeper this week, especially whilst Mark Scott recovers from injury.

Yes as of tomorrow there are still fourteen games left in our league campaign remaining, but this is the first of two games in four days, that will be regarded by many fans as six pointers.

The simple fact is that we are top of the table for a reason, we score goals, win matches, and provide entertainment that we have not seen for some time in the yellow and blue shirt of Basingstoke Town.

Therefore why not get down to Winklebury tomorrow afternoon, get behind your Basingstoke Town side, and hopefully see us with another three points, take another step forward in our promotion campaign, come 5pm tomorrow.

Match Preview by Martin French..