Staines Town 0-1 Basingstoke Town
Match report by Nick Wilson
Basingstoke made hard work of dispatching bottom club Staines on Tuesday night, but Nathan Smart’s close-range finish made the difference midway through the second half. It was a third straight victory for ‘Stoke and the tenth from their fourteen league games so far but Dan Brownlie said the performance would serve as a wake-up call heading into a big weekend clash with fellow high-flyers Marlow.
It may have been a different story had Brad Wilson’s early strike stood, the forward taking advantage of a handling error from home keeper Joe Ringer but the offside flag cut his celebrations short. Staines were happy to allow Basingstoke possession in their own half and the visitors had plenty of it but were hampered by loose touches and wayward passes on a bobbly pitch. It was a half of few chances, Wilson sending two volleyed chances narrowly off target but the closest the away side came to scoring was when home defender Reece Cave deflected McKoy Palmer’s cross goalwards and breathed a sigh of relief as his goalkeeper managed to gather it up.
Brownlie threw on Ben Cook and Conor Lynch to try to inject some spark early in the second half and Lynch almost found the net immediately, flicking a header inches wide. The breakthrough arrived on 63 minutes as a free kick was half cleared to James Haworth who reloaded with a high ball into the box. Centre back Nathan Smart controlled, swiveled and volleyed home from six yards for his first goal since returning to the club. ‘Stoke were inches from a second goal as Wilson forced a save and Cook’s prodded effort from the rebound was blocked on the line but they were able to run out the clock and secure a narrow victory.