In a return to league action, despite being reduced to ten men in the first half – Basingstoke secure all three points against visitors Chipstead FC thanks to a Conor Lynch brace.
In front of another good crowd of 300+ which was made all the more impressive considering the torrential rain hammering down right across Hampshire, Basingstoke lined up in their traditional blue and yellow home kit ready to face a Chipstead side who boasted one of the highest scoring rates in the league.
The game got underway and were it not for some superb last ditch defending from right back Aidan Lewis, Basingstoke could have found themselves behind after just four minutes. This impressive tackle became pivotal even in the early stages with Basingstoke launching into an attack where winger Mckoy Palmer cut inside his man and threaded a beautiful pass to Conor Lynch who calmly rounded the keeper and fired the ball into the net.
Made easier by the rain’s gloss on the Winklebury all weather pitch, the game was being played at a good tempo with the ball being passed around with clear purpose by both teams. Basingstoke continued to create great chances, Brad Wilson went close mid-way through the first half but his shot went narrowly wide. Conor Lynch had a chance to double his tally, but his shot from point blank range was kept out by the keeper.
Chipstead equalised just before the 30 minute mark when top scorer Tom Collins picked up a cross-cum-shot and managed to round Paul Strudley from close range and walk the ball into the net.
The chances kept coming for ‘Stoke as Mckoy Palmer’s shot from a wide position rattled the cross-bar alongside Conor Lynch’s headed effort at the back post from McKoy’s deep cross that went just over the bar.
Then, with only moments to go until half-time Shaun Dallimore was caught in a race with Chipstead’s Andy Kabuikusomo and with the ref seemingly waiving their tussle away, the linesman, some 30 yards away frantically flagged for a free kick to be awarded, the referee much to the dismay of the Basingstoke faithful sent off Shaun Dallimore.
The second half showcased a resilient display from a reshuffled ten man Basingstoke and their efforts were rewarded within ten minutes of the restart as Conor Lynch’s run down the right hand side drew the keeper out and Lynch instinctively lobbed the keeper from some 35 yards which is lofted beautifully into the opposite corner of the goal to send Basingstoke 2-1 up.
Basingstoke supporters were also treated to the first sighting of new signing Anton Rodgers who came on to make his debut replacing Brad Wilson. Lloyd Snell also made an appearance replacing Ben Cook who limped off with a dead leg towards the end of the game.
Paul Strudley whose organisation led the back four all game was called into action making a stunning save low to his right hand side and half time substitute Dan Williamson was on hand to clear the ball into safety. Basingstoke continued to dig deep to secure three points and were met with great cheers from the crowd when it finally came bringing the game to a close.
Dan Brownlie commented after the game:
“It was well earned and hard fought. I enjoyed the game – Chipstead play in a similar style to us, so it was good battle and somewhat chess like in the first half. The sending off made a big difference to the game and we had to change a fair bit at half time and towards the latter stages, but the boys were tremendous. It was important we didn’t open up too much when we went ahead and it was a constant balance of trying not to sink too deep whilst still maintaining narrow distances between the boys to not allow them space that they had been exposing earlier in the game.”
“Chipstead will certainly be winning more than they lose so its a really valuable three points, particularly when you consider the make-up of the game and the way it panned out. We said at half time a point would be a good one considering, but we don’t turn down the opportunity to take all three if we saw a moment to do so. It was a really good display.”