Monday Morning Quarterback 2020-21 – Issue 2
Since the last MMQ, Stoke have continued on their impressive start with two hard-working performances, that have seen them earn 4 out 6 possible points.
Firstly, last wednesday we travelled down in the pouring rain to the outskirts of Bath, and up a single track path to the hidden ground of Larkhall Athletic.
Larkhall a much taller side, who had been in a playoff place last season when it was halted, were first on it, but good defensive work and fine saves by Schwarzer in goal, kept the score goal-less. This was until George Hallahan, jumped on a defensive error that left him one-on-one with the keeper, and it was George who confidently sent the keeper the wrong way, and Stoke were one-up. Despite creating many chances, we failed to add that second goal, and Larkhall with just over 15 minutes left levelled the scoring. Rather than Stoke retrenching into it’s own half, our new enterprising group of players, drove forward time and time again, and one or two poor finishes, it stayed level, well until two minutes into added time, when Bradley Wilson won us a penalty. Again George Hallahan did the business, and we came away from a tough game in difficult weather conditions with all three points.
This brought us to Saturday’s game down in Devon as yet more rain fell prior and during the game in Barnstaple. Stoke had bolstered its squad through the signing of experienced Ben Jefford, who through other injuries started the game, and despite early chances for us again, another byline created goal, put us behind. Worse was to follow, as we first lost George Hallahan through injury, only to then see the referee incorrectly send Ben Jefford to the dressing room for a rather ridiculous straight red card. Video footage confirms the error, but at that time we were still a man short for the rest of the game.
However, what Basingstoke fans have seen this year, is that this seasons squad of players have a renewed confidence and belief in themselves, and Stoke through a lovely flick by Bradley Wilson, set-up McCoy Palmer who finished neatly, and we were back level at halftime. Another byline created goal, put the home-side back in front again, but we came firing back, and won a penalty for a foul on George Reid. This was however subsequently missed by Bradley Wilson, but minutes later another Stoke attack, saw a superb diving header from Scott Armsworth, saw us level the game again.
Despite both sides having a couple of half-chances, the game ended deadlocked and both teams took a point from the 2-2 draw.
This as I stated earlier now gives us 7pts out of 9 from 3 away games and we sit third in the league table, and just one of five unbeaten teams.
With league games coming thick and fast we have our first and hopefully last home game of the season at Winchester, as we host fifth-placed Sholing on Tuesday night.
Assuming Ben Jefford’s expected one-game ban does not take effect until the weekend, and with ongoing injuries, he is likely to line-up somewhere in the starting line-up Tuesday night.
On another note it is great that we have scored ten goals in just three games, away as well that is, which makes that number seem even better, so this maybe strange to put a voice of concern here, but a number of fans are still worried that some of our players, still find it difficult to actually put there foot through the ball when in front of goal, and either side foot a shot or just clip it towards goal. Currently this is not hampering our league results, but there may come a time, a critical time, when this may happen.
This is not being overly critical, but something that needs to improve.
As for the first-team squad, and I have said this in match previews. This is one of the most confident, supportive group of players I have seen at Stoke since I have been watching them, and this makes a real difference when games are going against us. Long may this continue!
As of today our league table looks like this at the top.
The Top Five in Our League
Whilst the season has just started, I will not add the bottom of the table and hopefully we will not appear in it this season.
Our Basingstoke Town Goal Scoring Chart continues to take shape and with 10 league goals this season from 3 games, it is striker George Hallahan who still leads the way, but with McCoy Palmer close behind him.
|Name||League Goals||Cup Goals||Total|
Ok we have a full fixture list in our league during the week, with us hosting Sholing on Tuesday night.
The full list is as follow and 7.45pm kick-offs unless stated;
Monday 5th October
Evesham Utd v Larkhall Athletic
Tuesday 6th October
AFC Totton v Winchester City (7.30pm)
Basingstoke Town v Sholing
Bideford v Frome Town
Bristol Manor Farm v Barnstaple Town
Cinderford Town v Paulton Rovers
Mangotsfield Utd v Willand Rovers (7.30pm)
Melksham Town v Cirencester Town (7.30pm)
Thatcham Town v Moneyfields
Wednesday 7th October
Highworth Town v Slimbridge
Ok for those faithful travelling fans who have already spent a few hundred pounds travelling to the first three away games, unfortunately your wallet will get another hit this coming weekend, as we have that lovely trip up yet another mountainside, this time to Cinderford Town. Another ground with no station in the town or even nearby, this will make those who prefer to go via train that lovely task of working out a bus or taxi journey from whichever station is best cost-wise.
I would like to say that Cinderford have always been one of the most welcoming and friendly set of club officials we have met in this league, and hope the same happens when we leave with three points on Saturday