Match Preview: Basingstoke Town v Willand Rovers Saturday 7th March 2020

Match Preview: Bet Victor Division One South

Basingstoke Town v Willand Rovers

When: Saturday 7th March 2020 Kick-off 3pm

Where: The Simplyhealth Ground, Hillier Way, Winchester. SO23 7SR

Willand Rovers (Nickname – Rovers or Devon All-Whites), Average 2019-20 Home Attendance 141

First and foremost when looking at a home game at Winchester, you have to take into account the weather and currently despite the heavy rain on wednesday and thursday, it is hoped the pitch can be ready in 48 hrs time.

We last played Willand, our first ever venture to their ground back on a sunny warm day in November, but that was about the best part of the day, as we left Devon, after a 4-1 shellacking, as their goalkeeper run their back four, our forwards and the referee for most of the game. Back then we sat two places above them in 16th place.

After missing an early chance, Rovers broke and started their scoring after a shot was pushed by Chris Rackley straight to Dean Stamp who tapped it away. Stamp then added his second before the half-hour. Two more tap in’s (including Stamp’s hat-trick), early in the second-half, make it 4-0, before we got a converted penalty from Ben Wright.

With Willand’s last two games being cancelled, including Wednesday night’s home game against Melksham, they are now the team with the most games still to play in the league, with 15 still to play.

They currently sit in 14th place with an overall record of PLD 23 WON 10 DRAWN 1 LOST 12 GF 31 GA 36 PTS 31. Their away record sits at 2 Wins, 0 Draws and 9 losses from 11 games. However, their last game was at Cirencester where they left 6-0 loses.

Even with the four goals they scored against us, we have still scored two more goals than Rovers.

Their leading goal-scorer is 34-year-old forward Craig Veal with 11 goals. Veal, has previously played for Exeter City, Taunton and Bideford. He is ably supported by Dean Stamp with 9 goals, whose previous clubs many non-league clubs as well as Exeter City. If you stop these two, then you stop Willand.

Defensively, they are a solid experienced unit, with two big central defenders and with their keeper Mike Searle, who orchestrates the back four, they have allowed just 36 goals.

Moving onto your Basingstoke side, following the club’s last week’s, lets’ just say poor performance, it was clear that Manager Dan Brownlie had to make some changes to the playing squad. A number of players have gone out on loan and forward Ben Dillon, is likely to join Farnham Town football club. Following a conversation earlier this week between Ben Wright and Manager Dan Brownlie that Ben is now unlikely to feature during the remainder of the season. This has allowed us to sign until the end-of-the-season Hungerford Town 25-year-old forward, Connor Lynch, although this still needs league approval. Further additions are being looked at before the transfer deadline closes in a couple of weeks-time.

Our record now sits at PLD 26 Won 5 Drawn 3 Lost 18 GF 33 GA 75 with 17pts (1pt deducted). Our home record stands at 4 Wins, 1 Draw and 7 losses, so a fifth is even more important this weekend.

Whatever, happens it will be interesting to see what sort of line-up, Dan will put out, as apart from the worryingly loss at Thatcham, for those present, you would have seen us have to make three injury substitutions as first Ben Cook, then Simon Dunn and finally George Hallahan leave the pitch. Their current status for this weekend’s game is still to be determined and are likely to face pre-game fitness tests.

It is also understood that Captain Dean Stow, will miss this weekend’s game through suspension.

Whatever happens we will have a new fast forward in Connor Lynch, who will be looking to get off to a good start at the club and get the crowd behind him.

With Dunn and Cook both fighting to get fit, this will leave Harrison Cliff with more responsibility, and D’Andre Brown will look to get significant playing time as well. If Dunn or Cook fail fitness tests, will Adam Everiss be pushed into a more left-sided midfield role?

At the back, there will be more concern with Stow out, and Aiden Harris could be the one to step up into the right back role. In the centre a big aerial battling centre-back is needed, but finding one at this stage of the season to shore up a defence that looks to concede a 100 goals this season is drastically needed now.

Whatever, line-up is put out, we will need to break down a team which is vastly older than us, but with just two away wins all season and a team who generally does not score more than one goal, we need to be at our best to secure a much-needed and vital win.

The weather is expected to be bright and sunny, so please come and support your Basingstoke side at this crucial last 8 weeks of the season.

Match Preview by Martin French..