Basingstoke Town kicked off their 125th anniversary season with a nerve shredding FA Cup Penalty Shootout win over Wessex League side Bournemouth FC at Reading City’s Rivermoor Stadium.
For the second season in a row, Basingstoke were drawn to enter the FA Cup earlier than the rest of their Southern League Division One South rivals and from the start they looked determined to right any injustice they felt. Captain Simon Dunn pulled all the strings in the first half with some sumptuous passes to wide men Brad Wilson and McKoy Palmer, combined with a series of perfectly timed challenges to win back possession in midfield.
Basingstoke could have been ahead as early as the third minute when George Hallahan’s effort from a tight angle hit the near post and cannoned out for a goal kick. Such was the home side’s dominance that it was 25 minutes before Goalkeeper Julian Schwarzer was called into action, looking assured as he collected a speculative effort from distance. Hallahan, Dunn and Palmer all had efforts blocked or saved as Town forced a series of corners before Hallahan tried to get on the end of a through ball and was forcefully stopped by a defender. The referee immediately pointed to the spot. The number 9 dusted himself off but unfortunately his rasping effort smashed into the crossbar and out of harm’s way. The first half ended with Basingstoke again forcing a series of corners but not quite being able to apply the finishing touch.
The second half began much as the first had ended. Within moments of the restart McKoy Palmer was able to nip in and poach the ball from in front of the Poppies goalkeeper Kacper Kowalczyk but his touch was slightly heavy and he wasn’t able to bring the ball back under control. Adam Everiss then sprung the offside trap and pulled the ball back but Hallahan was unable to steer his shot goalwards. On the hour Dunn had to be replaced after sustaining a Hamstring injury and was replaced by the highly rated Harrison Cliff. Dunn’s experience in midfield was immediately missed as Bournemouth took the lead completely against the run of play. A ball over the top found its way to the striker’s feet and he was able to place it past Schwarzer sparking loud celebrations from the bench. For the next 10-15 minutes it was Basingstoke who had their backs to the wall and it was only some fantastic last ditch defending from Aiden Lewis and an excellent save from Schwarzer that stopped the Poppies extending their advantage. This proved to be Lewis’ last action of the game as manager Dan Brownlie withdrew him in favour of James Smith who added more pace to the Basingstoke right flank. An equaliser was the least Basingstoke deserved and it came courtesy of a 25 yard thunderbolt from the impressive Everiss, his shot slamming the far post before nestling in Kowalczyk’s net.
With no replays in the FA Cup this year the referee’s whistle brought about a Penalty Shoot Out. Both sides scored their first 4 penalties. Schwarzer nearly saved Bournemouth’s first with his legs and Kowalczyk got a hand to Brad Wilson’s effort which trickled over the line for Basingstoke’s 4th. Bournemouth’s fifth penalty was low down to Schwarzer’s right and the young goalkeeper was able to get down and push the ball round the post. This meant that goalscorer Adam Everiss had the chance to put his side into the next round and he made no mistake as his effort beat Kowalczyk low to his right. Basingstoke’s other penalty takers were Ben Cook, Scott Armsworth and George Hallahan. Basingstoke will face Chichester City at home in the next round, due to be played on the weekend of 12/13 September.
Written by Matt Warmington.