Match Report – St Neot’s Town 2 – 1 Basingstoke Town Saturday 11th February 2017

Saturday 11th February 2017 at the Cosy Stadium, St Neot’s.

St Neot’s Town                      2 – 1       Basingstoke Town                                     Goalscorers                                                                                                                         Hill & Fortnam-Tomlinson                      Deadfield

Attendance: 209

On a day when the travelling Basingstoke fans were wondering if the game would go ahead, confirmation by the St Neot’s club that with no snow in the area, therefore no planned pitch-inspection, fans made their way up by road via the A1 or other routes or transport to St Neot’s for the game.

The weather cold, but dry. The stadium built in 2008, sits within a new housing estate, just a few hundred yards the other side of St Neot’s train station. It is well put together stadium, with two small covered terraced ends, a small main stand, a decent but small main bar and a reasonably priced food bar. It also includes an electric scoreboard in one corner of the ground.

The Match Details;

Our 16th league defeat of the season and arguably the most frustrating one of the lot. Basingstoke Town threw away an early-goal lead at lowly St Neot’s Town to the extreme irritation of those who had made the long journey northbound – a host of bad decision making and no end product (where have we seen that before), in the opposition final third led directly to our downfall.

On a recovery mission following the six-goal hammering seven days previously, Manager Terry Brown nevertheless surprised many by setting up against a bottom-four Club with a 4-2-3-1, with Alex Tokarcyzk in goal, Marcus Johnston-Schluster right back, George Bennett left back, Joe Gater and the returning Matt Partridge (captain) centre backs, Charlie Kennedy and Dan Collier holding midfield, Michael Atkinson right midfield, Nana Owusu left midfield, Sam Deadfield in the hole and Aaron Jarvis up top.

But early doors it looked like Brown had his tactics spot on.
Starting far better than the hosts, in the second minute we hit the foot of the far post as the keeper left an Owusu cross from the left and almost paid the price for it.
Then, in the fifth minute a nice pinged long ball over the top was met with an exquisite first touch by Jarvis, and a nice little reverse pull back to Deadfield who made no mistake with a clinical finish across the keeper to give us the lead.

St Neots, stung by this, then headed over the bar from a set piece in the eighth minute.
But we were still on top and in the 24th minute another long ball, another superb first touch from Jarvis, Owusu then cut inside and his shot was blocked (though the flag went up late for Jarvis being just offside).

Just two minutes later, the warning sign – they walked through our defence on the left and a ball in to Alex’s near post was met by their player who missed a sitter.
We continued to press, with Kennedy in particular excellent and winning everything.

But, just when it looked like our pressure might yield a second goal, we conceded.
In the 29th minute, we gave away a silly free kick 20 yards out and fairly central and they whipped in a wicked curling shot which beat Tokarcyzk at his top right-hand corner.

This changed the game – the confidence drained out of us. St Neot’s confidence grew.
In the 37th minute, Deadfield fired well over the bar after Jarvis was fouled and two minutes after that they burst through on the left and Tokarcyzk was beaten at his near post and we were two-one down.
We tried to fight back and in the 41st minute we won our first corner. But it was played short by Deadfield (who can seemingly deliver a great cross, but not a shot, from a set piece) and Owusu (who can fire a good shot in at a free kick but evidently not deliver a ball) and like all our short corners it came to nothing.

A minute later, Bennett, one of our better players again, first half at least, when he pinged numerous good long balls, whipped in a great cross which their keeper had to push out for a corner at his near post. Once again the corner came to nothing!

At half time Kennedy (he must surely have been injured) came off and Ashleigh Artwell came on.
We made a bright start to the second half, no doubt fuelled by a Brown rocket.
But we continued to frustrate and none more so than Owusu.
In the 49th minute he turned the right back inside out, but then blasted the ball aimlessly wide from an impossible angle instead of crossing.

Up the other end two minutes later, the hosts got a bending shot off, but this time Tokarcyzk saved well.

Artwell and Owusu switched flanks briefly. It made no difference!!
In the 52nd minute Johnston-Schluster got on a rare welcome overlap and pulled the ball back nicely from the byline, but Deadfield’s finish was poor – a bad miss.

In the 55th minute Deadfield fed Partridge whose shot was pushed wide for a corner.

It was all us now.
In the 59th minute Owusu shrugged off a foul and stayed on his feet (shame really as he was in the area) and Deadfield shot just wide with his right foot.
Then in the 62nd minute Owusu again turned his man inside out repeatedly, but didn’t get a final ball in – so frustrating, no end product and yet more bad decision making.
In the 63rd minute, Artwell fired a shot well wide from the right while off balance.
And in the 65th minute Artwell got a good cross from the byline in, but Jarvis headed over the bar.

The BTG were getting restive and with good reason.

In the 67th minute yet more over elaborate play culminated in Owusu hanging onto the ball far too long until surrounded by defenders before eventually feeding Artwell on the right whose cross went straight to the keeper.
Not that it would have mattered, Owusu had given the entire town time to get behind the ball before releasing it.
In the 69th minute Ashwell fed Atkinson on the overlap, and he squared to Owusu who absolutely skied a first-time effort way over the bar and out of the ground.
In the 70th minute Johnston-Schluster, who didn’t cut inside nearly so much today, ran at his man and whipped a ball in, but Jarvis volleyed well over the bar.
In the 73rd minute Jarvis broke free on the break and tried to feed Owusu, but to no avail.

Constant pressure, but nothing to show for it and now we were starting to leave gaps behind us.
In the 75th minute Johnston-Schluster conceded a foul with a desperate lunge in as the besieged hosts broke. Luckily it was cleared.

Then a moment that didn’t go down to well with some.
We are two-one down, 15 minutes to go, and the Manager opts for a like-for-like change, as Jarvis  departs and Aaron Redford comes on.
He’s a legend as a Manager with an amazing CV – and what do we fans know? – but surely Terry needs to be more aggressive than that? Many fans felt this was not the right move.
Better to gamble (defensive midfielder or even outright defender off for a forward on) and risk losing three-one than tamely accept a two-one defeat – right?

Anyway, the frustration continued unabated.
In the 79th minute Artwell pulled the ball back to Deadfield who fired high over the bar.
Then in the 81st minute, St Neot’s broke but fortunately shot wide when they looked sure to score.
In the 82nd minute Redford, rushing round like a maniac, trying to change the game, put in a well-weighted pass down the right, but Artwell couldn’t quite get on the end of it inside the area.
In the 82nd minute Owusu cut inside from the left and this time actually did something with the ball, shooting just wide of the keeper’s near post.

Desperation stuff now, though and three times in five minutes, we almost conceded on the break as they shot wide and clipped the bar.

As we entered stoppage time we won a free kick on the right.
Deadfield’s ball in was decent but, to be fair, it was a great take from their keeper.

There was just time for Redford, clearly frustrated in the mere 15 minuters he was on, to thunder forward and have a fierce shot blocked by a defender.

And that was IT.
Deeply, deeply irritating, and worrying too to see such a deluge of bad decisions in the opposition final third all afternoon and especially in the second half.

The cold, disheartened Basingstoke Town fans made their way back home in the returning wintry conditions.

The trip to Hayes & Yeading on Tuesday looks a much tougher assignment now, as they pulled out a 2-1 win at home to Redditch United.

Match Report – Contains Match details by Ian Davies, with included text from Martin French.