BY NICK WILSON
After successfully negotiating the Bank Holiday weekend schedule and picking up six points out of six, Basingstoke return to Somerset for the second Saturday in a row to take on a fast starting Taunton side who are enjoying life in the Southern League Premier Division South. After pipping Salisbury to the Division One West title last season with over 100 points and just one league defeat all year, Taunton have adapted quickly to life at a higher level and go into the match sat in 2nd place, above Basingstoke on goal difference.
Tomorrow’s hosts took 4 points from their matches last weekend, a last gasp penalty from top scorer Matt Wright securing a 3-3 draw at home to Hendon before a 3-1 victory in the derby at Tiverton. Those results leave the Peacocks on 10 points from the first 5 games, currently atop a tight battle that sees teams from 2nd down to 7th place all with the same amount of points. The contest at the Viridor Stadium sees two of those teams going head to head.
Basingstoke will be hoping Sam Argent’s hamstring injury isn’t too serious after the striker was replaced towards the end of Monday’s victory over Gosport. Jason Bristow is pleased with the depth in his squad though, particularly in attacking areas and if Argent fails to recover in time, last season’s top scorer Callum Bunting could be in line for his first start of the season.
Both teams will be looking to take their excellent August form into September and make a statement in this clash of 2nd vs 4th to show they can be considered as challengers towards the top end of the table this season before the league takes a break next weekend to make way for the FA Cup.
BY NICK WILSON
A second consecutive Saturday in Somerset saw Basingstoke travel to the Viridor Stadium and put in a strong performance against newly promoted Taunton Town although the visitors were left frustrated and had to settle for a single point.
The hosts started the better and had a couple of early chances, top scorer Matt Wright tested Colm McAdden with a low shot from 20 yards which the Basingstoke keeper did well to palm around the post. Shortly afterwards Ryan Brett poked a volley just wide and Dan Sullivan again tested McAdden with a low strike from the edge of the box.
The away side grew into the game and George Bennett was left cursing his luck as a thunderous striker from the corner of the box crashed off the underside of the crossbar and bounced down on the line before being cleared. This was the cue for Basingstoke to begin turning the screw. Ben Wright glanced a header wide and Zidan Akers burst into the left hand side of the box, only to see his shot saved while Sam Smart’s follow up was blocked en route to goal with keeper Lloyd Irish out of the picture.
Basingstoke finished the half the stronger of the two sides and the final chance came to Sam Deadfield who teed himself up from 25 yards but he whipped his shot just over the crossbar.
HALF TIME: 0-0
As in the first half, the home side started the second period strongly as wingback Pierce Mitchell cut inside onto his left foot and forced McAdden into another save at his near post. Basingstoke responded with another chance for Deadfield, glancing a header just beyond the top left corner of the Peacocks’ goal.
Again Basingstoke took control of the game, Zidan Akers drove a shot just wide of the near post from range and Deadfield had powerful effort from a tight angle well blocked by Irish. From the resulting corner Harry Philby’s glancing header appeared to be heading in, only for Matt Buse to appear out of nowhere to head the ball off the line.
Despite spells of possession in the final third, Taunton were kept at bay by a strong performance from Basingstoke defensively and McAdden was rarely stretched in the second. Chances continued to come at the other end as good work from substitute Callum Bunting freed Deadfield to turn and lift a shot beyond Irish but the ball rebounded off the bar for a second time.
Sam Smart caused plenty of problems down the right hand side as full time approached and one cross set up a golden chance at the far post. Jack McKnight was left unmarked but couldn’t quite stretch enough to turn his header goalwards, his glancing touch taking the ball away from Bunting who was poised to head home.
It wasn’t to be for Basingstoke who nevertheless made the journey back to Hampshire on the back of an excellent performance and a first clean sheet of the season.
FULL TIME: 0-0
Taunton team: Lloyd Irish; Pierce Mitchell, Ben Adelsbury, Keith Emmerson, Shane Wright, Nuno Felix (Josh Nelmes); Ollie Chamberlain (Andrew Neal), Ryan Brett, Matt Buse; Dan Sullivan, Matt Wright (Craig Veal).
Subs not used: Tom Stone, Brett Trowbridge.
Basingstoke team: Colm McAdden; Dean Stow, Harry Philby, Shane Hollamby, Jim Orvis; Charlie Kennedy, George Bennett (Dan Collier); Sam Smart, Sam Deadfield, Zidan Akers (Jack McKnight); Ben Wright (Callum Bunting).
Subs not used: Dan Bayliss, Liam Hunt.