Match Report: Evo Stick South Premier Division South
Basingstoke Town 2 – 1 Hendon Fc Attendance 283
Heavy weather was the order of the day.
Heavy weather (waterlogged pitch) claimed my son’s football match – prompting my rare return to view a game at The Camrose.
Heavy weather dominated the fixture on a horrible, cold, wet and windy December afternoon on a heavy pitch.
And Btfc made heavy weather of beating a disappointing Hendon outfit, who didn’t look up for it in the conditions.
To my eyes Martin Kuhl opted for a 4-4-2 diamond with Colm McAdden in goal, Dean Stow, Harry Philby, Dan Bayliss and Rob Gerard across the back, Charlie Kennedy holding, Sam Deadfield in the hole, Sam Smart wide right, Zidane Akers wide left and Sam Argent and Ben Wright up top.
It seemed a clear shape, with clearly-defined roles, the players played to it and it proved highly effective.
The game opened tightly in the awful conditions and the first five minutes saw little other than a speculative attempt from Smart which sailed high and wide.
In the tenth minute Stow, so effective going forwards, whipped in a dangerous ball from the right, but no one could get on the end of it.
Btfc were gradually getting on top now and in the 17th minute they got their reward.
A short corner from the right, returned to Deadfield, whose deep ball in to the far side of the six-yard box was met by a sweet header from Bayliss, who made no mistake.
To be fair to the visitors, they didn’t initially let it affect them and in the 19th minute Ricardo German got clean through, but McAdden made a decent low save.
But two minutes later, when Deadfield whipped in a wicked ball from the right, the man at the near post got nowhere near it and the Dons keeper parried direct into his own net for 2-0, Hendon heads went down.
Btfc could easily have added to their lead but Akers, though lively down the left, couldn’t buy a goal at the moment and looked woefully low on confidence in the finish.
And in the 37th minute Hendon were handed an unexpected lifeline back into the match.
McAdden rushed off his line to successfully smother the ball, gets clattered into by the Hendon forward, who goes to ground, for his pains and the whistle goes.
Foul on McAdden, surely?
No – penalty!
I seldom criticise referees, but he got that one wrong as even Hendon fans agreed.
Anyway McAdden dives to his right, German went down the middle, 2-1.
The two-goal cushion should have been restored three minutes later when Akers burst into the box after being released by Argent.
But he beat the keeper only to hit the far post.
So, 2-1 at the interval when 4-0 would have been a fair reflection.
Hendon had a bit more of a go in the second half.
A shot from 30yds went flying out of the ground from them five minutes in.
But two minutes later Wright showed good feet in the box before his effort went for a corner.
The game started to get stretched now and in the 64th minute Wright fed Argent whose effort was saved.
And a minute later, Smart, better second half, whipped in a lovely ball Argent was inches away from getting on the end of.
In the 70th minute, after a decent Deadfield free kick delivery, Wright had time to turn in the box but shot wastefully wide.
Dan Collier replaced Philby in the 73rd minute.
Two minutes later another chance for Akers who couldn’t direct his header home from a slightly overhit cross from Smart.
But then in the 82nd minute a real let off as German had a free header which thankfully flew wide.
Five minutes later, it seemed the fixture was settled as Smart ran at his man in the left of the box, in went the challenge, down went Smart, and he had won us yet another penalty.
But Stow sent the spot kick woefully high over the bar.
Debutant Drew Matthews replaced Akers with a minute of normal time left, there was five minutes of added time to endure, but the minutes came and went and we actually came closest in stoppage time after a Deadfield effort went somewhat tamely at the keeper.
So the poor referee blew time on what was frankly a 2-1 battering.
Hendon were dismal, no fight, no character, no ability to handle the conditions and an ill-deserved goal.
Btfc were by far the better team, but were too often wasteful in front of goal and though Akers will get most of the flak there, he was by no means the only culprit.
But overall a better defensive display, we created and took enough of our chances to make the on-the-day dismal playoff contenders look even worse then that.
I liked the shape, I thought Kennedy thrived in a more clearly-defined, holding role and all the players put a shift in.
The back four were superb today and more of this would in future weeks would be much appreciated, as we try to move back up the league.
This Kuhl fella is making a visible positive difference already.
Onwards and upwards.
Match Report by Ian Davies with minor updates from Martin French.