Isthmian South Central Division – 12th February 2022
Basingstoke Town 1 v 0 Ashford Town Attendance 465
Where: Winklebury Sports Complex, Winklebury Way, Basingstoke. RG23 8BF
Stoke find a late winner in what was a drab game
Dan Brownlie’s line-up today was: 1. Paul Strudley, 2. Dan Williamson, 3. Daryl Wollers, 4. Robert Sheridan, 5. Nathan Smart, 6. Ben Cook, 7. Simon Dunn (Capt), 8. Bradley Wilson, 9. Stefan Brown, 10. Conor Lynch, 11. McKoy Palmer
On the bench: Brody Peart, D’Andre Brown, Lloyd Snell, James Haworth & Anton Rodgers
Referee – Sean Jenkins
The sun had disappeared behind the clouds, as the game got underway with Stoke attacking the car park end, and there was very little action, until Ashford won a corner on seven minutes, but Stoke easily clear and break down the right and Conor sends over a cross that is headed partially clear to Dunn who slips as he shoots and the ball slides a yard wide of the far post.
The next ten minutes see us unable to string two passes together, but the visitors are little better.
On 24 minutes, a ball over our back four has Ashford breaking down the right, who is given time as we fail to see the danger, but the cross into the goalmouth area, is saved by Strudley down low.
Stoke’s next attack is on 28 minutes, as the ball falls to Ben Cook, whose shot is deflected just wide of the near post for a corner. Nothing comes from the corner.
Some more wayward passing works in our favour, as an Ashford defender loses a control of the ball we give him and takes out Lynch, giving us a free-kick 28yds out. The kick beats the wall, forcing their keeper to tip it over the bar. The corner takes a deflection off one of our players and rolls out harmlessly for a goal-kick.
Ashford have the next few minutes of play, which results in a shot blocked by Sheridan, plus another attack that sends a forward into our penalty area, but his shot from an acute angle, just flies past the far post and out for a goal-kick
We move into the last few minutes of the first-half, with the home fans wondering what is going on and the game ends with another Ashford attack and shot that Strudley comfortably saves.
Halftime – Basingstoke Town 0 v 0 Ashford Town
The game gets back underway with us making a halftime change as Conor Lynch is replaced by Anton Rodgers.
Whatever has been said at halftime, does not appear to have worked, as we lose the ball four times in the space of 30 seconds. The fact that Ashford have given it back to us each time confirms that neither team are at their best.
On 55 minutes Rodgers finds Dan Williamson out on the right who outpaces his marker and sends over a decent cross, but Ashford are able to clear.
The best chance of the game the falls to Ashford on the hour as they break down the right wing outpace Wollers and send a cross over to the Tangerines little No. 11 who fluffs his chance from four yards out as he hits it wide of the near post.
Strudley is then forced to make another save, pushing a shot out for a corner from another attack down the right wing. Again nothing comes from the corner.
Rodgers then finds Wilson out on the right who takes a touch then finds Palmer who does a neat one-two pass with Stefan Brown, but an Ashford defender makes a timely tackle.
The fans are clearly getting restless, and we make a double substitution on 67 minutes, as Brody Peart replaces Bradley Wilson, D’Andre Brown replaces Ben Cook.
Peart seems to inject some energy into the game, as he outpaces the left back and sends a nice cross into the heart of the goalmouth, but there is no Stoke player there and Ashford kick the ball clear.
The latest changes seems to bring us some renewed play, as we start to push forward, but create very little in goalmouth action.
On 74 minutes a ball over the visitors back four finds Stefan who takes it into the penalty area, then stops and slides the ball back to Palmer whose shot is blocked by a defender.
Ashford the break again down the right, but a neat interception by Smart puts the ball out for a corner. It is Smart again who heads the corner clear.
Then a deep crossfield pass into the Ashford penalty area is dropped by the keeper leaving Peart and their No.2 trying to get on the ball, but as Peart seems to get the ball, he is pulled down by the defender, and the referee awards Stoke a penalty and then shows the right back a straight red card.
A full minute later, Stefan steps up and sends the ball to the keepers left, who has guessed right and makes the diving save, but can only push the ball back into Stefan’s path, and he taps the ball home from two yards. GOAL ! Basingstoke Town 1 v 0 Ashford Town (S. Brown 81 mins)
The next few minutes has little action, which includes an injury to a Stoke player.
Peart is back on the ball and his pace allows us to keep the ball in their half.
We now move into the final seconds of normal time, and we are now passing the ball around to kill time.
Ashford win a free-kick on the hallway line, and the keeper takes the kick and sends it deep into our penalty area, but Wollers heads the ball well clear.
A couple more hopeful balls by Ashford are dealt with by Smart and then Strudley.
With three extra minutes gone, the referee has seen enough and blows the full-time whistle.
Full-time Score: Basingstoke Town 1 v 0 Ashford Town
S. Brown 81 mins
With the three points the most important factor, this was a hard game for most Stoke fans to watch, as the passing and control was lets just say poor for most of the game.
We are back on the road with the first of three huge games against other playoff teams, as we head to Chertsey Town next Saturday.