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REPORT - Whitehawk 1 Basingstoke Town 0
BASINGSTOKE Town slumped to their second consecutive away defeat, conceding from a free-kick and failing to break down a stubborn but limited Whitehawk side.
Having taken the lead on 21 minutes, the hosts were happy to sit back and defend deep.
The second half was reminiscent of a medieval siege, with Basingstoke throwing everything they had at a wall of red shirted Whitehawk players camped on the 18 yard line – but they could not force their way through.
Without the height of injured striker Robbie Matthews, Town lacked variety in attack, forced to attempt difficult passes between defenders. When they did get crosses into the area, there was nobody there to get on the end of them.
All in all, it was a bad day at the office. Passes went astray all over the pitch and the visitors’ frustration at Whitehawk’s spoiling tactics and their inability to break the hosts stubborn resistance was clear to see in the final 20 minutes.
It all could have been so different, had Andrew Jenkinson’s low shot after just 20 seconds hit the net rather than the post.
It was a great low drive from the midfielder, making his full debut in the absence of the injured Neil Barrett, but while the goalkeeper was well beaten, the post denied the visitors, with Manny Williams unable to force the rebound in.
If Town had scored so early, Whitehawk heads may well have dropped, the team having lost four of their opening five games.
As it was, they went straight up the other end and should have been in front themselves, Sam Gargan failing to beat Town goalkeeper Louis Wells after being put through one-on-one.
Further chances followed in an open first 20 minutes. Town were relieved to see a Whitehawk player block a shot from his own teammate after a dangerous corner, while Gargan should have hit the target when presented with a clear sight of goal from just inside the area.
Town’s best chance of this spell fell to Nathan Smart, but the wide man, playing instead of Shaun McAuley, dragged his low shot well wide. It was a difficult afternoon for Smart, who did not look comfortable as part of a front three.
Whitehawk took the lead from a free-kick on the left wing, Sami El-Abd getting the merest of flicks on Tommy Fraser’s delivery at the near post to beat Wells.
Having been promoted, one-dimensional Whitehawk will probably struggle this season, but the goal gave them something to hang on to.
Town immediately piled on the pressure, with Williams putting one chance wide and forcing home goalkeeper Chris Winterton into a diving save with a well struck volley.
Whitehawk were content to sit back and play on the break, which nearly worked as a mistake by Ross Adams gave Jake Robinson a clear chance, which he squandered by slicing wide.
The hosts made a bright start to the second half, Robinson testing Wells at his near post and the visiting goalkeeper saving well to keep out Fraser’s free-kick.
However, they soon reverted to type, defending deep, wasting time and frustrating Basingstoke into mistakes in possession.
The visitors went closest from a corner, Jay Gasson’s header glancing the crossbar, while Jenkinson and Williams fired shots wide from just outside the area, but they were unable to create anything clear cut.
Whitehawk actually created the clearest opening on the counter, Danny Mills firing over when he really should have scored, but it mattered little and it was the hosts celebrating at full-time.
Basingstoke Town: Wells, Rice (sub McAuley 59min), Green, Jenkinson, Gasson, Adams (sun Ray 59min), Daly, Dunn (sub Campbell 90+1min), Ibe, Williams, Smart. Subs (not used): Johnson-Schuster, McDonnell.
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