Match Preview: FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round
(The Town) Melksham Town v Basingstoke Town
When: Saturday 26h October 2019 Kick-off 3.00pm
Where: infiLED Arena at Oakfield, Eastern Way, Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 7GU
We head back into Wiltshire to take on last week’s opponents Melksham Town in the latest round of the FA Trophy. So far we have had to win on the road at North Leigh and Cirencester Town and hopefully the hat-trick at Melksham this Saturday.
Despite all the euphoria of our league win, this is a cup match and the Wiltshire team, sorry I refuse to call them by their nickname, will be looking for revenge.
Since Saturday, Melksham suffered a devastating loss at home on Monday night, when they put four past Moneyfields in the first half and were leading 4-1 at halftime. However, this league continues to surprise many fans as Melksham then went on to concede 5 goals in the first 21 minutes of the second half, losing 6-4 in the end.
With these back-to-back losses Melksham now sit in 17th place with an overall record of PLD 10 WON 2 DRAWN 2 LOST 6 GF 19 GA 28 with a total of 8pts. In those two games forward Jack Ball has added 3 more goals and now has 8 league goals, whilst player-coach Luke Ballinger has 5.
As for Melksham’s cup exploits this season, in the FA Cup, they lost in a replay to Western League Shepton Mallet, in the FA Trophy whilst we were beating Cirencester they advanced by dispatching Wantage Town 2-0.
What was evident especially in the 2nd half of last Saturday’s game was the heavy tackling that the defence and midfield handed out to our young players, which resulted in one red card and which could have quite easily been more. Melksham’s Manager Richard Fey, could face a different line-up, but will likely go with that same physical tactic that failed last Saturday.
As for your Basingstoke Town team, Manager Dan Brownlie, not only extended the unbeaten league and cup run to six matches, he did it with a number of expected starters missing on the day. I know there is the old adage ‘Never Change A Winning Team’, but Dan could possibly have six players back vying for contention.
Both Wimbledon loanees are expected back, as well as defender Ryan Suckling who has served his 3-game suspension from Mangotsfield. It is also hoped that both midfielders Aaron Kuhl who impressed in his debut at Cirencester, as well as Harrison Cliff back in contention for starting roles. We could also see the return of forward Ben Wright, who has missed the last two games through injury. That leaves Dan Brownlie with plenty of options and formations.
The only injury concern I am aware of is the injury sustained to midfielder D’Andre Brown, who is unlikely to be fit this weekend.
Whilst we head into the cup match our league position took another jump forward as we now sit in 15th place with a record of PLD 10 Won 2 Drawn 3 Lost 5 GF 14 GA 18 with 9pts.
Last week we came out from the starting blocks with pace that they could not initially handle. A two-goal lead with goals by Mikey Davis and Scott Armsworth was then crossed off, as we twice failed to clear our lines, however an immediate response from Dean Stow, took us into the half, ahead.
The second-half was a more physical battle and neither team really took control and it wasn’t until the late penalty converted by Dean Stow that finally settled the match and three big points for Stoke.
It was good to see Jordan Edwards continue on his full return to fitness and is just part of the trio of players with pace with Riccardo Andrady and Claudio Herbert, that Melksham struggled with last week.
Young local boy Alfie Saunders continues to hold down the right back role whilst on loan from Forest Green Rovers.
With Ben Wright missing, it was good to see Dean Stow’s return to the dead-ball role, and apart from his first-half goal, he also came close with another free-kick in the second-half, prior to his penalty success.
We have averaged 3 ½ goals on the road in the FA Trophy, and with Melksham’s defence having now conceded 10 goals in the last two games, more goals are expected from your Stoke side as we travel to Wiltshire.
This Saturday is all about the cup and £2,450 winners cheque and the chance to be in Monday’s draw, are all important for our club.
For those travelling to the game, I hope to see you in their fancy Sky Bar clubhouse before and celebrating afterwards.
Let’s hope a strong referee is assigned to this game.
Currently the weather forecast is for rain, but let’s not that dampen our spirits of the continued revival of our club.
Match Preview by Martin French..