This afternoon Basingstoke travelled to face Isthmian Premier League side Leatherhead in a three o’clock kick off. Basingstoke were once again supported by a large number of fans who came to support the boys and were greeted with a stunning pitch that the Leatherhead groundsman have work worked very hard on.
Basingstoke travelled without nine first team regulars due to varying reasons including COVID concerns, injuries and an absence. Dan Brownlie called upon young Academy players Joe Western and Hugo Staunton who alongside Paul Strudley made up the Basingstoke bench.
The first ten minutes was pretty evenly balanced but a breakaway down the right hand side led to a penalty being awarded for a reported handball much to the confusion of most within the ground. Briggs finished well putting our hosts 1-0 up.
It was however just 8 minutes later when some neat trickery and footwork from McKoy Palmer led to a Brad Wilson shot that was saved in close quarters only for Lynch to finish inside the six yard box.
With an instant response, Leatherhead regained their lead just two minutes later when Hall was put through on goal and finished past Julian Schwarzer.
Conor Lynch was forced off with an injury and was replaced by academy player Joe Western.
We had to wait 13 minutes to find the equaliser, but the goal was worth the wait when George Reid beat the offside trap to then finish calmly past the Leatherhead keeper.
Just moments before half-time, it was the academy player who slotted Brad Wilson through on goal and he buried the ball to the keepers right to give Basingstoke a deserved lead going into the break.
Half Time: 2-3
Sub: Schwarzer off, Strudley on
With only one change at half time, Basingstoke started where they left off and started building continued attacks. It was on the 55th minute when the pressure paid dividends. A beautiful reverse pass from the impressive Ben Cook found the feet of Academy graduate D’andre Brown – whose powerful run committed two Leatherhead players allowing the space for Joe Western to be slotted in and he obliged with a neat first time finish.
Hugo Staunton made his first team debut by replacing Mckoy Palmer and Julian Schwarzer replaced Joe Western.
Just five minutes later, Joe Western was fouled just outside the box in a dangerous position and George Reid made no mistake with a beautifully placed curled effort into the keepers right hand corner.
Full Time: Leatherhead 2 – 5 Basingstoke
Dan Brownlie commented…
“It was an impressive performance. We’re happy with the days work and with that wrapping up pre-season from a fixtures perspective, we can reflect on a job well done. It’s not all gone our own way, but we’ve ticked a lot of boxes and got through a lot of work throughout pre-season.”
“We could have probably afforded ourselves forgiveness if today’s result went against us. We had a lot of bodies out but the boys that were in the shirts today stood up. There was no feeling sorry for ourselves, and as we said before the game, it’s likely that that kind of thing will happen again, particularly with the world we’re living in currently.”
“We’ve got a lot of injuries, with nine out today and Conor picking up an injury that puts him in serious doubt for our league opener, it’s far from ideal, but this is a squad game and we made it clear from the start that we have faith in everyone here. You saw today from the young lads that when called upon, we have reason to trust them. We’ve got a big week ahead of us, we’re hopeful we can get back one or two to be in contention for next weekend but we’ll see where we are. For now, we focus on our two midweek sessions and go from there.”
It was revealed after the game that both Joe Western and Hugo Staunton had signed first team forms…
“They’ve both done really well today. Joe has been with us a few times now and continues to impress. The credit has to go to Aaron and the rest of the academy staff for their ability to continually develop these talented boys. It’s fine having an academy, but it’s another thing producing players that are capable, confident and show a level of professionalism both on and off the pitch. Fans that were there today would have seen all those attributes in these lads.”