When news happens, text BAZ and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Good second half display sees Basingstoke Town earn a draw
BASINGSTOKE Town produced a strong second-half performance to come from two goals down and claim a draw in their final pre-season friendly.
Saturday’s match at Poole Town was very much a game of two halves, with Jason Bristow’s men well off the pace in the first half but dominant after the break.
Steve Devlin and Jonathan Davies gave the hosts a fully-deserved 2-0 lead at half-time but Town were comfortably the better side in the second period and well worthy of the draw they earned through Jordace Holder-Spooner and Manny Williams’ goals.
Town manager Bristow said: “We were miles away in the first half, giving their players too much time and allowing them to run off us. In the second half we were dominant and only one team was going to win it in the end.
“The way we played in the second half is the way we have to start games in the future.”
Bristow used only 13 players over the course of the 90 minutes, sending out a strong indication as to who is in the frame for the starting 11 in next Saturday’s season opener.
Town are almost certain to line up in a 4-3-3 formation and it looks increasingly likely that David Ray will start the season at centre-back. He has had an impressive pre-season and is more comfortable on the ball than either Ross Adams or Jay Gasson, who each played 45 minutes alongside him on Saturday.
If Ray does start at centre-back, Robbie Rice, who had a decent game on his return from an ankle injury, is likely to play at right-back, with Adam Green on the other side.
Wes Daly and Neil Barrett look set to make up two-thirds of the midfield three, with Shaun McAuley, Andrew Jenkinson and Simon Dunn, who sat out Saturday’s game with a hamstring problem, vying for the other position.
In attack, Bristow must select three out of Robbie Matthews, Holder-Spooner, Williams and Kezie Ibe, who missed the Poole game with a quad problem.
The other decision the Basingstoke boss must make is over his team’s style of play. Having seen his charges struggle attempting to pass the ball out from the back from the start against Hungerford, there was a marked change in strategy on Saturday as Town tried to get the ball forward quickly in the early stages.
“We were trying to mix it up a bit, stay tight in the first 10 to 15 minutes and feel our way into the game,” Bristow explained. “Once the game opens up, it is easier to play a passing game.”
It’s a strategy that makes sense, but Town must get off to a better start if they are to make it work in the league. They were nowhere near their Southern League opposition for the first half-an-hour on Saturday and could have been more than 2-0 down.
The hosts took the lead from the penalty spot after just 10 minutes, Rice being penalised for handball after getting tangled up with a Poole player, while a quick throw led to a well-taken second goal for Jonathan Davies five minutes later.
Town were at sixes and sevens defensively and needed Louis Wells to dig them out of several holes with three fine saves, while they created next to nothing going forward throughout the first half.
It was a much different story after the break as Town found their passing rhythm and played at a higher tempo, keeping Poole penned in their own half for long spells.
Holder-Spooner worked some magic to reduce the deficit just before the hour, holding off two men and finding the far corner, while Neil Barrett should have levelled late on, shooting wide from a good position after Matthews headed Jenkinson’s cross down for him.
The equaliser Town had been threatening finally arrived on 88 minutes – but they needed a slice of luck as Williams’ excellent shot from an acute angle bounced off the post and into the net via the back of the Poole goalkeeper.
Comments are closed on this article.