Match Preview: Bet Victor Division One South
Larkhall Athletic v Basingstoke Town
When: Wednesday 30th September 2020 Kick-off 7.45pm
Where: Plain Ham Stadium, Charlcombe Lane, Bath, Somerset. BA1 8DJ
Larkhall (Nickname – The Larks), Average 2019-20 Home Attendance 152
Basingstoke head back on the road again for its second fixture of the season to one of the five grounds we never got to visit last season, and one to my understanding Stoke have never visited before.
We did play Larkhall at Winchester back in September 2019 on an overcast Tuesday evening, when Ben Wright missed an early penalty, and after another couple of wasted chances, Larkhall make us pay with two goals, but we were then sent a lifeline just before the break, as a scything tackle on Claudio Herbert saw the visitors reduced to ten men. However, on a fractious night, we are unable to take our second-half chances, and despite a late goal by Adam Everiss, we went down 1-2 on the night.
Larkhall, have started the current league season slowly with a 2-2 draw at Bideford and then as just one of four games in the league last Saturday they lost 2-0 at Willand Rovers. This leaves them in 15th place with one point.
However, unlike us they remain in the FA Cup, with wins (0-4) at tiny Newton Abbot Spurs, and then (3-2) win at home against Bitton AFC. This weekend they travel to Frome Town in the second qualifying round.
Last season, the Larks sat in third place when the season shutdown and were therefore probably unhappy that the season did not finish, and have the chance to gain promotion. Their league record at that point stood at PLD 27 Won 14 Drew 7 Lost 6 GF 45 GA 37 with 49pts
Looking at this season’s squad, they have a forwards line that will match anyone in the league with their leading striker Lewis Powell 15 league goals being joined by ex-Mangotsfield striker Dan Demkiv who scored 13 goals. They are supported by 26-year-old striker Brad Norris, who has previously played for Bath City, Melksham and Frome Town.
In midfield they have the experienced Joe Tumelty (Frome Hereford & Bristol Manor Farm, and Alex Lambert (Mangotsfield & Yate Town), which just adds to their attacking threats.
Team Captain is 27-year-old defender Mike Baker who also joined the Larks from Yate Town.
Hopefully they don’t have the same keeper as last season.
But be clear this is a vastly experienced team who will look for their first win of the season in 48 hours time.
Ok our Basingstoke side sat top of the table for 7 days, before AFC Totton went top after a 1-1 draw last Saturday. We still sit second, and will be up for the battle expected at Plain Ham this Wednesday.
What Manager Dan Brownlie will expect is a better start, than the game at Slimbridge, as defensive and goal-keeping errors allowed Slimbridge into an unassailable view, or so everyone thought.
Never outplayed, we then went on a second-half all-out assault, and worthily hit back through George Reid (my personal player of the match, plus a brace of lovely finishes by both George Hallahan and McKoy Palmer. The game was rounded off by another decent finish and hopefully the first of many from forward Dylan Ive. Yes six goals away from home, not sure the last time we hit six away from in a league match, and these were all in the second 45 minutes.
If Larkhall had someone scouting us, they will see a team that is more confident, vastly quicker, and more skilful on the ball and with pace aplenty. This will worry Larkhall and hopefully everyone else in the league this season.
We made some lovely attacking moves against Slimbridge, and with individual skills in Reid, Palmer and Wilson especially the moves in the final third of the pitch, we looked efficient and dangerous each time.
Lewis Hayden in midfield looked strong, and whilst Simon Dunn is out will need to control that area along with Ben Cook and Harrison Cliff, but knowing Larkhall will likely give them more of a challenge than Slimbridge did.
Whatever, the defensive line-up will be, they will need to concentrate from the very first minute, as Larkhall will come at us on home territory from the kick-off.
Travel down to the outskirts of Bath for our players will not be ideal under these present social distancing circumstances, but with the win at Slimbridge, this must give us all the encouragement to repeat that performance this Wednesday night.
With no train return option, we may have a limited number of fans travelling down by car to the game, please let’s get behind the boys at the game. Journey time is around 1hr 30 minutes by car.
Depending on my arrival time, I may look to go in the nearest pub to the ground ‘The Bladuds Head’, and maybe see you in there.
Match Preview by Martin French..