For those few dedicated fans who travelled the 85 miles from Basingstoke down to Weymouth, I am sure like me, that was a choker of a result.
On a night with the promise of a bit of sea mist coming across the ground, Terry Brown was forced to make numerous changes (for various reasons), to his starting line-up.
In goal Aaron Holt, at the back Johnson-Schuster (Capt), Hollamby, Bayliss and Bennett. In midfield was Atkinson, Kennedy, Deadfield and upfront Wright, Smart and McKnight.
The bench was just Wohlfiel, Artwell and Goater.
The game started slowly, with little to choose between each team, but this was to change as after just 4 minutes, an attack down the right, when the ball is switched to the left, setting up Wright, who shoot, or so the Weymouth defender thought, only for Ben to cut back inside and power it into the bottom hand corner of the goal. The few fans behind the goal, were sent into rapture with promise of more.
Just 3 minutes later and Smart breaks down the left, but his shot his well saved by the Weymouth keeper.
On 8 minutes, and Smart starts another of his speedy runs down the left, who slips the ball inside to Wright, whose shot this time hits the stop of the stand behind the goal.
On 10 minutes and a break by Weymouth is blocked by Hollamby.
Basingstoke back on the attack and on 12 minutes, a neat well-built break down the right allows Johnson-Schuster to whip a cross, that is desperately hacked cleared clear for a corner. From the resulting corner, we beat the first man for a change as the ball flies to the back post, where Hollamby spanks a volley towards the goal, the ball hits Wright a yard out, but somehow bounces away from the goal and is hacked clear by Weymouth.
For those who know the reporter, I have been a lifelong pessimist, but we have fellow long-time Basingstoke fan Micky S, who puts me to shame with his depth of pessimism, as every time, Weymouth cross the halfway line, disaster is about to strike. Tonight, he is in full swing!
17 minutes in and a beautiful 40-yd crossfield pass by Deadfield, is beautifully brought down by Smart, who mugs the defender yet again and his shot come cross flies across the face of the goal and beats both keeper and post for a goal-kick.
Smart, by now must be hearing the Stoke fans singing “Who needs the Ronaldo, we have Sam Smart”.
On 19 minutes, another pass splitting ball finds Smart who holds the ball up and feeds Bennett, who fails to get a shot away.
Just a minute later and Smart who has been taking the piss out of the Weymouth defence, takes one to the face and after about 30 seconds the ref halts play and gets treatment as he goes off the park.
The Weymouth way, seems to be if you can’t stop them then whop them!
Weymouth come back in the game and on 22 minutes they win a corner, but from the corner the header goes way, way wide.
On 30 minutes, yet more superb passing and the ball is being played around the Weymouth box, the fans are screaming to shoot, but no-one wants to and the ball is finally hoofed away.
Weymouth win another corner, this time it’s more dangerous, but Hollamby heads clear and Stoke survive the attack.
35 minutes in and a long clearance from Johnson-Schuster sets McKnight away, but his hastily taken shot is fired wide.
The last few minutes of the first half ends with no real attacks by either team and Stoke head into the break worryingly only one-up.
With no substitution at half-time, the 2nd half resumes and a decent break down the right ends with a goal-kick.
Weymouth attack and speculative pass is seized upon by the only Weymouth threat but his cross is kicked into the Weymouth sky and out of the ground.
Weymouth now spend a further five minutes in our half and we are getting in our own half, but we finally break clear and the referee mystifies the whole crowd, by giving us a corner. However, the corner yet again fails to beat the first man.
Weymouth attack again and Kennedy clears not once but twice in a matter of 30 seconds.
Then on 64 minutes, following an attack by Stoke, Weymouth break again and this time they don’t miss and it’s 1 – 1.
65 minutes in and Johnson-Schuster gets his shirt pulled just over the halfway line, The resulting Deadfield free-kick is met by Hollamby, but the ball rolls softly to the keeper, as no-one follows it in.
On 66 minutes Stoke attack again and a superb pass by McKnight across to Smart who takes one touch and then buries it past the keeper. Basingstoke retake the lead.
At this point Stoke make their first change as McKnight is replaced by Artwell.
It is clear at this point Smart is still 5yds quicker than anyone else on the park, as he chases down a clearance and what should have resulted in a Basingstoke free-kick, ends with Weymouth hacking it away.
On 72 minutes, another Stoke attack and Wright feeds Deadfield, who’s well hit low shot, looks destined for the net only for the keeper to make a super diving save and the ball is cleared.
75 minutes in and Weymouth’s attack ends up with a shot that is aimlessly wide.
On 77 minutes, this end-to end match has Stoke on the attack and Johnson-Schuster wins a corner. This time the corner is met by the keeper who is un-challenged. However, his quick clearance is blocked by Bayliss, who ends up in the book.
We enter the final 10 minutes and the game is the balance, but Stoke deserve this game.
On 84 minutes, Weymouth break and the ball is crossed again and they slot it home. Back to all-square at 2 -2. (Please add your own expletive here).
Weymouth now appear on top as we seem to be unable to hold the ball for long.
Then on 92 minutes, a clearance hits our own player and bounces to a Weymouth forward who goes around Bayliss and the tackle is deemed a foul and the ref awards a penalty.
After what seems an age, the penalty is scored and we are losing a match we don’t deserve too.
The game hits five minutes of injury-time and Stoke’s final attack ends with a cross met by Deadfield’s looping header which hits the bar, Smart must finish it, but no the defender blocks it, it falls to Deadfield whose desperate swing at it flies the ball the ball over the bar.
That’s it we’ve lost again, as the ref blows the whistle.
Weymouth 3 – 2 Basingstoke Town Attendance 487
Positives out of the match. Good all-round team performance with Smart and Deadfield the stand outs and a decent first game for keeper Aaron Holt.
Negatives – What happened to our other two substitutions? We still seem to want to walk the ball into the net.
The night was the then further ruined as a road diversion added 15 minutes to our long quiet miserable journey home.
We are back home this Saturday, after two long miserable away trips.
Away Match Reporter – Martin French
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