BY NICK WILSON
Basingstoke will look to bounce back from two defeats to start the season away to Kettering Town on Saturday. After the opening day defeat at home to Frome an a frustrating loss at Dorchester on Monday night, Kettering will present another stiff test after winning both of their first two matches. They started with an impressive 2-1 win away to Slough before following that up with a 1-0 win against Redditch on Tuesday night, both matches saw a winning goal for the Poppies in the last five minutes.
Terry Brown heaped praise on Kettering, saying he expects them t be one of the teams challenging at the top of the league come the end of the season, after a 9th place finish last time around, missing out on the playoffs by 12 points. Basingstoke’s defence will be charged with the task of stopping a potent attack that managed 84 goals last season, the weakness for Kettering being at the back where they shipped 66.
Last season’s meeting resulted in the points being split, Basingstoke earning a comfortable 3-0 victory at home in August before Kettering exacted revenge with a 2-1 win at Latimer Park.
Sam Deadfield remains out due to injury while Ashleigh Artwell may come back into contention to give Basingstoke a timely boost, leaving Terry Brown an almost full squad to choose from. For Kettering, central defender Dom Langdon returned from holiday this week and will be in contention while striker Aaron O’Connor sits out the last game of a three match ban.
BY NICK WILSON
An improved performance wasn’t enough for Basingstoke to overcome a strong Kettering team as the hosts came away with a 3-0 victory, a scoreline which arguably flattered them. Basingstoke began the game looking to keep the ball better than they had on Monday at Dorchester and moved it well without creating any clear chances early on, looking again to set plays to find chances as a rehearsed routine between George Bennett and Ben Wright ended with the striker firing comfortably wide from the corner of the box.
The home side took the lead after 25 minutes with their first real chance. A free kick from the right was guided beautifully behind the Basingstoke defence and Brett Solkhon nodded home from point blank range to make it 1-0.
Colm McAdden was called upon to make a save low to his right but otherwise Kettering were kept at arms length for much of the first half, while Dan Collier and Marcus Johnson-Schuster both shot over the crossbar when presented with chances on the edge of the box.
HALF TIME: 1-0
Kettering started the second half strongly and kept Basingstoke pinned back with a flurry of corners and attacks. Rene Howe failed to get a decisive touch on one corner while Dan Bayliss headed out from under the crossbar after another cross had beaten McAdden. Mathew Stevens wasted perhaps the game’s best chance after Lindon Meikle had squared across the six yard box. The Poppies number 8 got the ball stuck under his feet when faced with an open goal from a few yards out and it was cleared.
For all the good football though, Basingstoke still couldn’t test Paul White and Kettering eventually got their second through Howe. George Bennett awkwardly headed the ball towards his own area and Howe cut it out, shifting to the right before producing an excellent chipped finish to double the lead on 77 minutes.
To their credit, Basingstoke pressed on to get back into the game and Ben Wright forced a save from White but Kettering broke from one attack, substitute Ben Baker running free on the left before shooting across McAdden with his right foot to round off the afternoon with a third goal.
FULL TIME: 3-0
Basingstoke team: Colm McAdden; Charlie Kennedy, Shane Hollamby, Dan Bayliss; Marcus Johnson-Schuster (c), Dan Collier, Michael Atkinson, George Bennett; Sam Smart (Conor Davis), Aaron Jarvis, Ben Wright. Subs not used: Aaron Hoult, Charlie McCann, Jordan Goater, Will Shaw.
Kettering team: Paul White; Durrell Berry, Brett Solkhon (c), Gary Mulligan, James Brighton; Michael Richens (Munashe Sundire), Ben Milnes, Lindon Meikle (Gary Stohrer), Mathew Stevens (Ben Baker), Rhys Hoenes; Rene Howe. Subs not used: Liam Bateman, Nathan Hicks.