BY NICK WILSON
It’s a break from league action tomorrow for Basingstoke as the FA Cup campaign begins with a visit from local rivals Hartley Wintney in the First Qualifying Round. Basingstoke will look to continue on the goal trail after scoring thirteen in the last two matches in stunning victories against Chesham United and Gosport Borough. Hartley meanwhile, arrive at the Camrose looking to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat to Marlow, their first of the season. It will be their second match in the competition after defeat Wessex League Premier side Brockenhurst 5-1 in the Preliminary Round.
Hartley will be feeling confident after a strong start to the season. Playing in the new Southern League Division 1 East for the first time after easily winning the Combined Counties League Premier Division, they began this year with three wins from their first three matches before coming unstuck against fellow high flyers Marlow. Their nine points accrued so far have them sitting in 3rd place.
After making his first appearance of the season from the bench on Monday, Ashleigh Artwell will be pushing for the starting spot vacated by Aaron Jarvis’ departure to Luton Town. Conor Davis will also have his eye on the position for what will be the final game of his current loan spell from Reading. Meanwhile Sam Deadfield continues on the comeback trail and he will be hoping to come into contention too.
BY NICK WILSON
Hartley Wintney showed great heart and determination as they fought back from 2-0 down to earn an unlikely draw at local rivals Basingstoke. The hosts looked to have done enough to see off their lower league opposition thanks to goals from Ben Wright and Marcus Johnson-Schuster but Paul Hodges struck twice to ensure the sides will do it all again on Tuesday night.
The game got off to a fast start as the visitors looked sharper than their Southern League Premier hosts and created chances early on. Sam Argent took a ball on his chest before volleying just over from 15 yards and Hartley could’ve taken the lead on 10 minutes when Luke Perkins ran through on goal but would feel he should have done better as Colm McAdden got down to save his low shot. Almost immediately, Basingstoke went up the other end and punished HArtley’s profligacy. Sam Smart curled a cross to the near post from a deep position and Wright swept a sublime volley into the far corner to draw first blood.
The home side looked to press home their advantage after the goal, Wright had a shot blocked and Smart saw his shot saved while Charlie Kennedy was denied before being unable to stretch quite enough to turn in a fierce cross at the far post. The half ended with a flurry of niggly fouls from both sides as the game lost its flow.
Both Argent and Liam Eagle failed with headed efforts in the second half but the biggest chance came to Smart who went through on goal but Strudley got enough on the ball to stop it rolling in. The home side soon doubled their lead as a short pass from Steve Noakes forced Strudley into an awkward, scuffed clearance and the ball fell straight to Johnson-Schuster who rifled into the bottom corner.
It seemed enough but Hodges struck with 8 minutes left after McAdden fumbled Stow’s free kick before finishing well with 3 minutes to go after seizing upon a loose ball in the box. It could’ve been even worse for the hosts as McAdden came up with an excellent save from Argent in stoppage time.
FULL TIME: 2-2