BY NICK WILSON
Basingstoke play a home league match on a Saturday for last time for over a month tomorrow as Banbury United make the journey south for our 12th league game of the season. It is hoped a big crowd will be in attendance on Non-League day as it will be the last time Basingstoke play at the Camrose in the league on a Saturday until a Remembrance Day meeting with Stratford Town.
Banbury will arrive in Hampshire lying 9th in the Southern League Premier Division, with 18 points from their 9 games. This leaves them two places and three points above Basingstoke, however recent form has seen the Puritans struggle. They’ve lost three of their last four league games while conceding 13 goals in that time, and encouraging prospect for a home side that has had no trouble finding the net so far this season.
40 goals have already been scored in all competitions, in just 15 games, while 39 of those have come in the last 12. Two of the league’s leading goalscorers in Sam Smart and Ben Wright are joined by Callum Bunting, with 4 goals already for the club in less than two hours of game time, and newest signing Sam Argent who will be hoping to continue the goalscoring form that made him one of Hartley Wintney’s best ever forwards. Banbury will turn up with their own serious goal threat though in Jefferson Louis who also has eight in the league. A Basingstoke defence that’s allowed just two goals in the last five games at home to Southern League Premier opposition will aim to keep him shackled in a similar manner to that seen last weekend against the league’s top scorer, Dior Angus.
Basingstoke will also be looking to extend an excellent home run which has seen the team gather 12 points from a possible 15 in the league, seeing off high-flying sides such as Redditch United and Merthyr Town. However the hosts will be tested by a visiting side which has been equally good on the road, sporting an identical record of four wins and one defeat.
Terry Brown pronounced himself satisfied with his squad depth after the recent signings, saying “We now have a squad of 16 outfield players and 2 keepers. This makes for an exciting team that will look to score goals and entertain everyone who comes down to the Camrose.” and the manager will be hopeful of seeing Sam Deadfield and Dan Bayliss come through the week to put themselves in contention after both being substituted early in the midweek cup tie at Fleet as precautions.
Saturday’s contest gives Basingstoke the chance to leapfrog their opponents in the table while also making up ground on other teams towards the top end of the table. A win could possibly put them within a point of the playoffs.
BY NICK WILSON
Sam Argent’s triumphant return to the Camrose earned Basingstoke a fifth consecutive home league victory in front of the biggest crowd of the season on non-league day.
Terry Brown set up to attack with all four of his forwards starting the match but it was Argent who broke the deadlock. After scoring over 150 goals for Hartley Wintney in the last 3 years, it took him just four minutes to give his new side the lead. Sam Smart’s near post cross was cut out by Jack Harding but the keeper fumbled the ball at the feet of the new striker who bundled the ball home.
Banbury responded well to the early setback, Tom Winters fizzed a low shot wide from the corner of the box while Luke Carnell spurned two good chances from close range. The hosts came back into it with Ben Wright twice testing Harding, first with a vicious, swerving volley and then with a low free kick. Basingstoke struggled at times to bridge the gap between defence and attack, leading to periods of possession without penetration.
The Puritans found an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, Winters bursting beyond Charlie Kennedy before lashing a long range strike over Colm McAdden to take the sides in level at the break.
The home side were more able to keep the ball further upfield in the second half although there was a lack of clear cut chances until Terry Brown looked to his bench. Dan Collier and Ashleigh Artwell were introduced and it was the latter who made an instant impact. Basingstoke patiently worked the ball across the edge of the Banbury box with first Argent, then Kennedy electing to pass rather than shoot. Smart took the pass from Kennedy before jinking past Marvin Martin and threading a low cross to the far post where Artwell arrived to tap in from within a yard.
Now in front, Basingstoke found themselves under pressure. Ravi Shamsi was left in space 20 yards out but shot well over before George Nash went close with a dipping volley. Shamsi tested McAdden with a curler from the edge of the box but as the stopper parried it, the ball was volleyed clear and eventually fell to Argent who worked a yard of space and chipped Harding, the ball agonisingly grazing the crossbar. Just two minutes later though the game was sealed. Another break out of defence allowed Smart to attack the Banbury box. Another superb ball to the far post found Argent who finished with his left foot before celebrating with the fans behind the goal as Basingstoke secured the points.
FULL TIME: 3-1
BASINGSTOKE TEAM: McAdden; Johnson-Schuster, Hollamby, Bayliss, Wohlfiel; Atkinson (Collier), Kennedy, Smart, Wright (McKnight), Bunting (Artwell); Argent. Subs not used: Bennett, Demuria.
BANBURY TEAM: Harding; Hawtin, Carnell, Bradbury, Martin; Self (Shamsi), Pond, Nash, Winters; Johnstone, Louis (McDonagh). Subs not used: Westbrook, Peak-Pijnen, Howards.