JASON Bristow was unable to celebrate the first anniversary of his appointment as Basingstoke Town manager with a win – his side conceding a last-minute goal to lose 3-2 in a thrilling game at Sutton United on Tuesday.
The visitors made the worst possible start, conceding after just 70 seconds, and Sutton added a second goal on 16 |minutes to leave Town with a mountain to climb.
However, an astute tactical change made by Bristow changed the game and Basingstoke hauled themselves level with goals either side of half-time from Manny Williams and Delano Sam-Yorke.
Sadly, they were unable to hang on, Tim Sills inadvertently heading a Sutton corner into his own net in the final minute, while Williams was inches away from making it 3-3 in added-time, hitting the post.
Bristow said: “It is very tough to take because the players put in a real shift. “There was not much I could say after the match because I thought we were excellent for a large part of the game.
“We deserved more than we got today – but that has been the case in too many games.
“We were poor in the first 15 or 20 minutes and cannot afford to start like we did.
“We were not getting to the first or second balls and it |wasn’t just the goals – they were first to everything all over the pitch.
“The response from midway through the first-half was really good. “We did really well to get back level and an unfortunate own-goal has cost us what would have been a really good point.”
Tuesday marked a year to the day since Bristow took on the job as Town manager – and he accepts that the club should be higher up the Blue Square Bet South than the 15th place they currently occupy.
“I’m still enjoying the job, because it’s something I have wanted to do for a long time – but it’s tough at the moment,” he admitted. “There have been a lot of good performances but we are not getting the results.
“It has been a disappointing season so far but we want to |finish as high as we can.
“We need to pick up a few points so we are in a position to look up the table rather than over our shoulders at the bottom three.”
Town go into another tough away game, this time at Maidenhead on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), just four points above the relegation zone and nine outside the play-off places, having played more games than most of the sides around them.
However, they have shown that they can recover from defeats in recent weeks, something they must do again against a strong and direct Maidenhead side at the weekend.
“The players have shown that they are capable of bouncing back, which is good,” Bristow added. “In the last couple of weeks, they have really shown that they are up for the fight.
“Maidenhead will be tough and physical. It will be a difficult pitch and they will want to win just as much as us.”
Saturday will see two strikers come up against their former clubs. Williams, who has scored three goals in his last two Town games, made his name at Maidenhead, while David Pratt will play against Basingstoke for the first time since his move to Berkshire last summer.
See this week's Gazette for a full report from Tuesday night’s game.