FA Cup 1st Round Qualifying Match- 7.45pm Tuesday 11th September 2018 Basingstoke Town 2 – 0 Paulton Rovers Attendance 330
Basingstoke Town ran out deserved 2-0 winners of this FA Cup replay here at The Camrose tonight with a thoroughly determined and professional performance, especially in the second half after a hair-raising first 45 minutes.
Though perhaps lacking in the usual attacking quality, there were nevertheless a string of good performances, spearheaded by a massive, game-changing, 90 minutes for goalkeeper Colm McAdden, whose first-half penalty save proved the pivotal moment in the tie.
On a mild mid-September evening at The Camrose Btfc lined up with the same starting 11 as on Saturday with Colm McAdden in goal, a back four of Dean Stow, Dan Bayliss, Harry Philby and Jim Orvis, George Bennett and Charlie Kennedy holding midfield, Sam Deadfield in the hole and Sam Smart and Zidane Akers out wide and Sam Argent up top.
Btfc were reportedly poor at Paulton, but Manager Jason Bristow had clearly got his men well and truly “at it” for tonight as they came out of the starting blocks at a million miles an hour.
In the third minute Deadfield, whose consistent quality since the turn of the year surely leaves him destined for a higher level sooner rather than later, surged forward, passed left to Argent, who in turn fed Akers, whose low cross the left went across the area and Smart blasted over from a tight angle right of the box.
Three minutes later Argent made a surging central run, went down under a challenge just inside the area but the generally fussy referee wasn’t interested.
Bayliss immediately picked up the clearance and drove forward on the left and his cross was cleared as far as Kennedy, who blasted over the bar from 25 yards.
Paulton were reeling from the high home tempo, but sadly our high pressing wasn’t quite matched by the necessary quality.
Yet in the ninth minute the handful Deadfield won a free kick 30 yards out to the right of the area but, from Bennett’s sweet ball in, Kennedy headed weakly at the keeper.
Ten minutes in and Paulton had a rare foray into our final third to no avail.
Still all us and a minute later an Akers cross just eluded the head of Argent.
We were pressing really well and Deadfield was bringing his combative side to the table as well as his quality and Orvis was impressing me going forwards.
The next ten minutes got scrappy, Akers got caught in possession but we remained on top and were winning free kicks as Paulton struggled to cope with our tempo.
In the 21st minute Argent picked up the ball on the break after a defensive error but failed to look up and dragged the ball tamely wide from the left.
Two minutes later and that man Deadfield again, linking up well with Akers on the left
But still nothing to show for our dominance, the visitors started to come into it and on 24 McAdden was left scrambling for the ball in our area after an attack.
And by the half hour our early tempo had subsided and Paulton were getting more possession as mistakes crept in for the home side.
Then Deadfield was somewhat harshly booked – a worrying moment but, for me, in one of his most mature displays to date, the playmaker contrived to remain combative and competitive the rest of the game without ever putting himself in danger of a second yellow.
In the 34th minute after a surge from the right by the visitors McAdden made the first of a number of key saves, this one at his near post for a corner.
That was cleared but we were now coming under the cosh.
A minute later a yellow card for Paulton after a foul on Argent – there was at least an element of consistency to the referee’s fussiness.
We started to reassert ourselves a bit, but the end product was still lacking.
Then on 38 a by now trademark Deadfield killer ball to Akers, but the exquisite pin point defence splitting pass from our number 10 drew what was neither a shot nor cross from Akers who wastefully dragged the ball wide.
Then on 40 a surging run by the bionic Smart culminated in a low shot from the right which struck the side netting.
But still danger our end and on 42 Philby hastily cleared after a Bayliss error.
Nervy spell now and in the 45th minute we conceded what looked a dubious free kick to the right of our area near the by-line.
From the ball in, a Paulton man went to ground and the referee pointed to the spot.
The tie, the trip to Bristol Manor Farm, and “six large” (£6,000) suddenly seemed to hang in the balance.
But McAdden stood up well and, if he guessed, he guessed right as the powerful spot kick low to his right was met by an equally powerful parry by our young keeper.
A massive moment for McAdden, under fire from some at times, and it kept us in the tie and at 0-0 at the interval.
Dan Collier replaced Kennedy for the second half which we started well as Smart picked up a crossfield switching ball on the right and his deflected shot was saved by the keeper.
Five minutes later and McAdden further silenced his critics when bravely injured when climbing and catching a wicked high ball deep into his area under a challenge.
But despite the bright start, we were playing too much long ball.
The visitors remained dangerous and on 52mins McAdden was forced into a decent low save with his feet.
This seemed to galvanise us and on 56mins a better move culminated in Akers firing low at the keeper from the left of the area.
And on 59mins after Smart was fouled a quick free kick from the right resulted in an inventive Argent overhead kick back across the area and a deflected shot blasted over for a corner.
The high tempo was returning and on the hour the visionary Smart delivered a great switching ball right to left to Argent as the game started to get stretched.
Both sides were pushing for the decisive first goal and on 63, on the break, we struck.
Akers picked up the ball on the break on the left, he had options to his right but instead cut inside and unleashed a deflected shot from the edge of area which flew into the top corner to give us a vital 1-0 lead.
It was deserved on the overall balance of play.
We looked on top now and on 70 minutes Paulton were forced into their first change.
Four minutes later Bristow countered by replacing goalscorer Akers with Jack McKnight.
It eventually proved an inspired switch by the Btfc boss.
McKnight spent the next 15 minutes dominating the midfield, as he surged forward again and again, which put a tiring Paulton on their back feet. It was good to see and should set him up for more games to come.
But in the shorter term anxiety as a quick break from Paulton produced a low shot from the right which McAdden parried for a corner.
Paulton made a second change as they looked to chase the game. Time and time again they attacked down our right wing, but both Orvis and Bayliss were at their best tonight, and were able to snuff out most attacks, before they were pumped into our box.
And in the 78th minute Collier, who gave an assured performance, was booked when chasing the ball on the break.
The tie was still on a knife edge but then, in the 79th minute, we settled it.
Argent put in good work down the middle, then found McKnight, who in a positive cameo display drove deep into the area on the right before delivering a neat low ball to Deadfield who tucked the ball away to make it 2-0. In fact it was more of a help over the line, as he the defender met the ball and Sam was able to force it over the line, despite the keepers efforts.
The exultant playmaker celebrated with attitude with the BTG and well might he do so.
Another cracking display from him and another deserved goal.
We were in control now and on 82 Argent, who I think is gradually finding form and did well tonight, went off and Bunting came on.
The big centre forward proceeded to do a job for us, holding up the ball well and winning us free kicks and time in the closing stages.
In fact we saw the game out really well from this point.
On 85 McKnight went on another surging run.
On 87 Paulton won a corner as they managed to apply a bit of pressure.
But we were containing them well and the experience of players like the accomplished Stow was coming to the fore as we never really gave Paulton a sniff of getting back into it.
In fact there was still time in the 93rd of the 94 minutes for the impressive McKnight to draw a save with a cracking strike from fully 35-40 yards out.
The whistle went and our progression to the next round was secured.
Not the best of the three performances I had seen.
But what it lacked in quality at times it made up for in determination, professionalism and nous.
This looks a proper decent Btfc squad with a sound blend of youth and experience.
Wimborne won’t be looking forward to their trip to Town this coming Saturday.
Match Report by Ian Davies with additions by Martin French..