Match Preview: Basingstoke Town vs Bedfont Sports Saturday 26th March 2022

Match Preview: Isthmian League South Central Division
Basingstoke Town Vs Bedfont Sports
When: Saturday 26th March 2022 Kick-off 3pm
Where: Winklebury Complex, Winklebury Way, Basingstoke. RG23 8BF
Bedfont Sports (Nickname – Sports or Eagles ), Average 2021-22 Home Attendance 139
Admission Prices: Adults £10, Concessions £7 Aged 13-17 £3 Aged 12 & Under £1

Tuesday night’s performance against Guernsey, a team even less suited to a 3G surface than us with their height and size, allowed us to dominate a game from the outset, and although it took us just past the halftime break to open the scoring, the 2-0 result never seemed in doubt. The brace of goals by Conor Lynch both inside the heart of the goalmouth, were down to the hard work of the team, as we closed them down from the start of the game.
We now turn our attention to this Saturday’s important match against playoff challengers Bedfont Sports who sit one place above us, but only on goal difference, and are the only other team in our league who play on an artificial surface, where back in November last year we had put the game to bed by halftime. The 4-1 result was academic in the end, as we had total control for the first hour of the game, with neat finishes by Bradley Wilson & Ben Cook, and a third via a questionable penalty award, slotted home by Stefan Brown after thirty minutes. Bedfont did pull a goal just before the break, but another Wilson finish just after the restart, put to bed the game as Sports never looked like coming back

Our Opponents
The Eagles are managed by 37-year-old player-Manager Paul Johnson, who is in his fourth season with the club and has a wealth of experience at a number of non-league clubs.
After their loss to us at the end of November, they went through a mixed December, but from the turn of the year, they have started a promotion push beating many of the teams around us
Bedfont Sports will travel down the M3 with an identical win, loss, draw record as us, but with a far superior goal difference than us, as their record sits at PLD 30 Won 18 Drawn 6 Lost 6 GF 72 GA 38 PTS 60. Their away record however is nothing special (currently), with five wins, four draws and five losses.

Taking a look at their goal-scorers, you start with 23 year-old Daryl Sanders, who has an amazing 22 goals from his midfield role. Eighteen of these have come in the league (four via the penalty spot), and four in the cups. Sanders has been at the club since playing for their U18 side. Striker Lewis Flatman (21), another youth product has eleven goals, with eight of these coming in the league. Flatman will be joined by fellow striker Daniel Williams who has six league goals since joining from Tooting & Mitcham Utd in January. Two other forwards who played against us in November Ezekiel Bademosi & Charlie Postance both with five goals, have not played for some time and may have left the club.
In midfield apart from Sanders, they have experience in Ricky Wellard who has eight goals on the season, and his list of previous clubs include AFC Wimbledon, Cambridge Utd, Salisbury, Sutton Utd and Welling. They also have experience in 25 year-old Jonathan Tadafe & 28 year-old Max Webb.

The defence is led by captain Joe Jackson, another Bedfont youth product, and he has six goals on the season. Alongside him is likely to be Azeez Alabi who recently joined from Westfield. With them will be ‘Big Kev’, Kevin Diomande a tall defender who likes to get forward. Giovanni Palmer (23), will be one of the fullbacks. Connagh Wilks (21) is a versatile defender who can play in many positions.
In recent games in goal has been Gary Ross, but he received a red card last weekend and maybe unavailable. If not it will likely be Matte Pearson, who is the more regular keeper this season.

Your Basingstoke Town Side
We prepare for our third game at Winklebury in a week, following our dominant two-nil performance against Guernsey, where once again the scoreline could and should have improved our goal-difference on the night. However, the result on the night brought us level on points with Hanwell Town and our next opponents Bedfont Sports.
This win leaves us with our record at PLD 30 Won 18 Drawn 6 Lost 6 GF 55 GA 39 Pts 60, but with an 18 goal-difference disadvantage going into this game.

With Stefan Brown missing Tuesday night’s game through Covid, it will be surprising if he features in the line-up this Saturday, which leaves Conor Lynch who added goals number 21 & 22 on the season, and Bradley Wilson with 12 goals, as the starting forwards for tomorrow’s game. Wilson continues in earnest to find the net, but his overall work-rate is unquestionable in his desire to support the attack.

In midfield we saw the welcome return of winger George Reid, who for an hour looked like the Reidy from early in the season, and should be in the starting line-up. Alongside captain Simon Dunn, who confirmed he was fir and available at training last evening, following the knock he took Tuesday. Anton Rodgers another second-half substitute, appeared to play a more forward role in midfield and set-up many attacks down both flanks, but appeared to pick-up an injury at training. Ben Cook who missed Tuesday’s game, will be back in contention for a starting role, alongwith with D’Andre Brown, whilst McKoy Palmer will also be in contention. Marco Magalhaes-Nevez who lifted the game with his speed, skill and overall confidence, including the Lionel Messi run that set-up our second goal, could be worthy of a larger part to play tomorrow, and Lloyd Snell who came on for the final few minutes, also pushed a claim for more game-time too.

The defence will be bolstered by Dan Williamson who was a full participant at training last night, but he will need to remove Aiden Lewis, who in some fans views was their man-of-the-match on Tuesday evening, and as the game wore on, took on a more attacking role down the right flank. In the left back role should be James Haworth who had his opponent under control for most of the game. This leaves the centre-back pairing of Nathan Smart & Rob Sheridan, who seemed to deal with Guernsey’s attacking threat with ease. Jonathan Boardman is likely to be their back-up on the bench. It was also good to see the improving fitness of Shaun Dallimore at training, but he is clearly two or three games away from contention.
Wearing the keeper’s gloves will be Paul Strudley who made a crucial save in each half of Tuesday night’s game.

Despite all the expected play-down of this match-up between fourth and fifth, it is without doubt a six-pointer at this crucial back-end of the season. A win not only stakes a claim on the playoff places, and knocks a challenger, but also puts more pressure on teams like Uxbridge & Marlow who sit outside the playoff places.
It will be interesting to see what crowd will turn-up for a crucial game like this, but Bedfont Sports the only other team in our league, who play their home games on 3G will be certainly up for the challenge, but any sort of performance similar to our last match-up would be a huge lift for Dan, the players and the club.

Match Preview by Martin French.