Match Preview: Bet Victor Division One South
Thatcham Town v Basingstoke Town
When: Saturday 29th February 2020 Kick-off 3.00pm
Where: Stacatruc Stadium, Waterside Park, Crookham Hill, Thatcham, Berkshire. RG19 4PA
Well we face second-placed Thatcham Town in the first of two games in the space of eleven days, as Thatcham Town then (weather and pitch permitting), will return to our temporary home in Winchester on Tuesday March 10th for the return fixture.
But this Saturday we play our third game against a promotion playoff team in 8 days, and so far we have lost the previous two, so things currently do not look good for this one.
Having said that, our performance on Monday night was far better than the final result looked on paper, but in the end, all that hard work still resulted in a further three points dropped, and another game in hand over our biggest relegation rivals Barnstaple Town lost.
Anyway, we meet Thatcham Town managed by Danny Robinson, at probably one of the best times in the league, as little as five weeks ago, they looked to have the league sown up as they had grown a seven-point lead in mid-January, but the fortunes at Waterside Park have turned sour recently, and have gone on a run more akin to the bottom of the table, as they have lost four of their last five games, and the fifth was a 1-1 draw at Bideford. However, they have not played since the 8th Feb, due to two consecutive Saturday postponements.
Thatcham known as the Kingfishers, now sit five points behind league leaders Frome Town, but do have two games in hand.
Their league record now sits at PLD 25 WON 16 DRAWN 4 LOST 5 GF 54 GA 28 with a total of 52pts.
Their home record after winning their first seven games, has also faltered and stands at 9 Wins, 1 Draw and 3 Losses and they have lost the last two home games (Melksham & Manor Farm).
Their leading goal-scorer is 29-year-old Kyle Tooze with 15 goals, but he will be missing from this Saturday’s game has he serving a three-game suspension for a red card earlier this month. They do have fellow forward Felipe Barcelos (28), with 13 goals. However, Thatcham have also signed ex-Mangotsfield striker James Ollis, who has 9 goals, and will no doubt line-up alongside Barcelos. Then has a further attempt to push for that automatic promotion place they signed Banbury Utd’ forward John Mills as further firepower.
Add the fact that in midfield, they have 5 goals from 22-year-old George Jeacock, so theirs is a lot of be concerned about. They of course will have ex-Stoke player Matt Partridge lined up against us.
Other experienced defenders include Curtis Angell, Matt Day and Zac Westlake.
As for your Basingstoke side, we head to our closest game of the season, either home or away as we travel just across the Hants border, into Berkshire, to take on a team like us, both desperate for a win.
The third game in the row against promotion playoff teams in eight days, and after losses at home to Paulton Rovers and away to Melksham Town, this puts us under increasing pressure to pull something out of the bag.
Yet again we created chances at Melksham, but simply failed to take them, but when we did take the lead just after the half-hour, that lead disappeared very quickly. However, we then should have taken the lead at the start of the second-half, but then two tap-in goals, one probably offside killed off our chances.
We still sit in 19th place with a record of PLD 25 Won 5 Drawn 3 Lost 17 GF 33 GA 67 with 17pts.
Our away record is not great and sits at, 1 Win, 2 Draws and 10 Losses.
With Harrison Cliff having sat the last two games and assuming he gets through Thursday’s training sessions, then he should be back in the starting line-up and with Ben Wright, who mad a suspected late entry into the game on Monday night, his consideration for a starting role alongside George Hallahan must be considered.
On Monday night the team worked hard and Simon Dunn and Claudio Herbert especially in the first-half took the game to Melksham and George Hallahan with a bit of luck could have had two goals.
But that is now gone, and the team will need to re-energise them for this game, as no doubt the Kingfishers will come looking for us, and we don’t want to be their bait.
This means we need to chase down every Thatcham break and shut down the space that they can operate in.
Defensively we need some luck, as we have failed to have some this season.
It would also be good to have a referee and two linesman who don’t get easily intimidated by the home bench, as well as the home crowd.
Storm whatever is due to hit on Saturday and this may affect the game as well.
Match Preview by Martin French..