Isthmian South Central Division – Monday 2nd January 2023
Basingstoke Town 2 v 0 Thatcham Town Attendance 802
Where: Winklebury Sports Complex, Winklebury Way, Basingstoke. RG23 8BF
Quick-Fire Second-Half Brace Give Stoke Victory Against Thatcham
Basingstoke’s Line-up today was: 1. Paul Strudley, 2. Markus Johnson-Schuster, 3. Callum Winchcombe, 4, Michael Atkinson, 5. Nathan Smart, 6. Billy Upton, 7. Bradley Wilson, 8. Simon Dunn (Capt), 9. Ben Cook, 10. James Clark, 11. George Reid
On the bench: Brody Peart, Marcio Neves, D’Andre Brown, Scott Armsworth & Sam Argent
Referee – Stephen Hawkes
This New Year Bank Holiday game got underway with Stoke attacking the carpark end in the first half. First action to note was a shot on five minutes by the visitors Thatcham, that flew 30 yards over the bar and out the ground.
Stoke’s first attack of the day is through Bradley Wilson on the left who cuts inside, but his shot is blocked just inside the penalty area and Thatcham clear.
Then in the 15th minute, we somehow fail to take the lead, when James Clark is slipped the ball inside the penalty area, and his shot is parried back to him by the Thatcham keeper, only for Clark to hit his second shot at the keeper with the goal open.
We move into the half-hour period, with little to note, but Thatcham have a couple of weak shots that are dealt with by Paul Strudley in goal.
George Reid goes on one of his mazy runs, before finding Wilson on the left, but again after beating his player his shot is once again blocked by a Thatcham defender.
Another threatening attack again is blocked by a Thatcham player and a follow-up shot is tame and held by the Thatcham keeper.
Then with just a minute before the break, we lose the ball and Thatcham break, which ends with a shot that skims the top of the crossbar and goes out for a goal-kick.
The referee plays two minutes of added-time, before blowing the halftime whistle.
Halftime – Basingstoke Town 0 v 0 Thatcham Town
The second-half gets underway with us attacking the railway end, and very little to note, until a hopeful through ball is retrieved by the keeper, but as Clark goes to shut him down the keeper hits the ball across the face of a goal, past a defender, and Reid is first to the lose ball, and taps it home with his right foot from eight yards out into the net. GOAL! Basingstoke Town 1 – 0 Thatcham Town (Reid 48 mins)
Then whilst fans are still celebrating the goal, Stoke are back on the edge of Thatcham’s penalty area and the ball falls to Wilson, who hits a shot that seems to catch the keeper unaware and the ball beats his dive as it finds the corner of the net. GOAL!! Basingstoke Town 2 – 0 Thatcham Town (Wilson 50 mins)
Stoke have the next attack and win a corner on the right. The corner is a short one and the ball is slid to Reid, who takes it just inside the penalty area then hits a shot that flies a couple of yards wide of the far post.
Thatcham have a few minutes of possession in our final third, but tackles by Billy Upton and then Nathan Smart put a stop to their attacks.
Thatcham desperate to get back in the game, make all three changes just before the hour.
Thatcham have a further attack and a cross is headed clear by Markus Johnson-Schuster.
Stoke then have the next attack, as an excellent long pass by Upton sends Reid away down the right, but the Thatcham left-back fouls Reid and we win a free-kick on the right-hand touchline. The free-kick is crossed over and falls to Wilson, whose shot rolls to the keeper.
It’s Reid and Wilson who lead the net Stoke attack, but the ball from Wilson rolls past the far post out for a goal-kick.
Upton makes another timely tackle as Thatcham break into our penalty area.
Stoke attack again and a neat move with Simon Dunn & Wilson, is initially stopped, but we retrieve the ball and Dunn gets to the ball first and slides a shot past the keeper and the ball rolls just past the back post and out for a goal-kick, with Clark nearby.
Simon Dunn then picks up an injury from an aerial challenge and after a two-minute delay is replaced by D’Andre Brown (72 mins).
The return of D’Andre brings good applause from around the ground and he is straight into the action, as he races onto a through ball, and is shot from the edge of the area takes a deflection off the keeper and rolls a foot wide of the near left-hand post. However, the linesman has flagged for offside anyway.
Then on 78 mins we have another attack and a header is kicked off the line by a Thatcham defender.
We then make our second substitution, on 79 mins with Marcio Neves replacing James Clark.
A long hopeful ball is retrieved by a Thatcham striker, who takes a couple of touches then sends a hard low cross that slides across the face of the goal and out for a goal-kick.
We win a corner down on the right, and we make our final change with Brody Peart replacing George Reid (84 mins).
From the corner, which is initially cleared, the ball is crossed back to the far post which falls to Upton who smacks a shot just wide of the right-hand post and flies into the Stoke fans behind the goal.
Another long through ball finds D’Andre challenging a defender for the ball and calls for a penalty are rightly waived away by the referee.
Stoke with two minutes left attack once more this time through Michael Atkinson & Neves, and the ball finds D’Andre who hits a soft shot straight at the keeper.
The board has gone up showing we have four minutes of added time awarded by the referee.
Nothing of note in the added-time and the referee blows the final whistle on a Basingstoke home victory.
Full-time Score: Basingstoke Town 2 v 0 Thatcham Town
Reid 48 mins, Wilson 50 mins
A hard-fought victory that needed an error by Thatcham for us to break the deadlock. This seemed to settle the team and the second goal was always going to be enough, as strong defensive performances by Billy Upton & Nathan Smart especially, blunted Thatcham’s attacks.
Another goal by the league’s leading goal-scorer Bradley Wilson and George Reid’s opportune intervention gives us all three points.
We travel to Bedfont Sports this coming Saturday having drawn with them on the opening day of the season at Winklebury.
Match Report by Martin French..