BY NICK WILSON
Basingstoke eased themselves through to the second round of the BigFreeBet.com Cup with a comfortable win away to Division 1 East strugglers Fleet Town.
Callum Bunting’s debut goal against Redditch earned him a starting spot up front and he took less than 3 minutes to take advantage. Sam Deadfield’s ball into Ben Wright on the edge of the box was deftly touched on by the experienced striker and Bunting ran on to finish coolly into the bottom corner to open the scoring.
Bunting’s lightning start to his Basingstoke career almost got even better as Wright again played him clean through just ten minutes later, but the striker’s shot was hit straight at Fleet goalkeeper Liam Beach from the edge of the box. The away side weren’t to be denied for long though as Wright turned from provider to scorer, receiving the ball with his back to goal at the near post he managed to turn and shoot low beyond Beach, who’s touch wasn’t enough to prevent the second Basingstoke goal on 17 minutes.
It was looking comfortable for the visitors and Dan Bayliss was next to go close with a searing effort from 20 yards which curled just wide. There was a blow for Basingstoke just over halfway through the first period as Deadfield was forced off to be replaced by Jack McKnight. Just before halftime though it was 3-0 thanks to Bunting. His pace and strength down the left wing was too much for Chris Wales and as he entered the box he was bundled over by the home skipper but picked himself up to fire the penalty into the bottom left corner to extend the lead before the break.
Basingstoke brought George Bennett on at half-time in place of Bayliss in the centre of defence and looked a little less assured in the second period. Despite this Guri Demuria very nearly made it 4 as his volley crashed off the crossbar but Fleet soon broke downfield with Danilo Cadete steadying himself before placing the ball beyond Holt into the right hand corner to get his side on the scoresheet.
The three goal cushion was restored though as Jordan Goater dropped a long ball in behind the home side’s defence for Bunting to get on the end of and lash a fierce volley into the bottom corner for his hat-trick. The drama didn’t end there. At the midway point of the second half, a mix up between Holt and Tim Wohlfield led to the keeper being penalised for picking up a pass back to him and Fleet had an indirect free kick on the edge of the six yard box. Cadete was unable to find a way through the mass of white shirts on the line though and the ball cannoned away for a corner.
Ashleigh Artwell began to impose himself on the game as Fleet tired, as he created two goals within a minute. First he squared the ball across the box for Wright who teed up McKnight to smash into the corner before cutting onto his right foot and floating a cross to the far post where the unmarked Dan Collier guided a header back across Beach for his team’s sixth of the evening.
As the game entered added time, George Bennett’s pass was cut out on the halfway line by Ruzicka who ran away from Demuria and Wohlfiel before slotting past Holt for a late consolation goal.
FULL TIME: 2-6
Fleet team: Beach; Ahorlu, Wales, Cummings, Castano; Oram, Bennett, Anghel (Dormer); Pekun (Lloyd), Milne (Ruzicka), Cadete. Subs not used: Bunyan, Smith.
Basingstoke team: Holt; Wohlfiel, Demuria, Bayliss (Bennett), Goater; Atkinson, Collier, Artwell, Deadfield (McKnight); Wright, Bunting. Subs not used: McAdden, Smart, Hollamby.