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REPORT - Basingstoke Town 0 Bromley 1
BASINGSTOKE Town slipped to 11th in the Conference South table, five points off the play-off places, after failing to score for a fifth successive match against league opposition.
However, top-of-the-table Bromley must have breathed an enormous sigh of relief on the coach back to Kent after Town dominated the second half, despite playing into the wind and being reduced to 10 men with more than 20 minutes remaining.
Once again, Town failed to hit the net, but they created plenty of chances and were desperately unlucky at times, hitting the post and having two efforts cleared off the line.
Basingstoke were without captain Wes Daly due to suspension, Andrew Jenkinson taking his place in midfield, while there were two further changes to the side that had lost at Chelmsford a week earlier. Kezie Ibe came in for Robbie Matthews in attack, while Jordace Holder-Spooner replaced Simon Dunn on the left wing.
It was Holder-Spooner who had the first chance of the match, the ball dropping to him on the edge of the area when a corner was only half-cleared, but his shot was always rising and ended up flying quite a long way over the crossbar.
The game got off to a slow start but, despite playing into a strong wind, Bromley were able to get on top as the half progressed.
They had the ball in the net through Jack Holland’s header, but the centre-back’s effort from an acute angle was ruled out for offside.
David Ray became the first player to go into the referee’s notebook soon after, sparking the start of a string of Town bookings as Richard Hulme seemed to lose control.
However, the man in black decided not to show Bromley’s Rob Swaine a yellow card when the defender charged into Town goalkeeper Louis Wells, causing him to hit his head on the post. Again, the ball ended up in the net, but Hulme’s whistle cut the visitors’ celebrations short.
Both sides then saw shots fly narrowly wide, Brandon Kiernan flashing a shot past the Town post and Shaun McAuley seeing his effort take a deflection and bounce inches wide.
Bromley scored what proved to be the winner with seven minutes of the first half remaining. Jay Gasson’s clearance got caught in the wind and Bromley broke quickly, feeding Bradley Goldberg down the right. His cross looped up off a sliding Adam Green, while Nathan Smart slipped, allowing Pierre Joseph-Dubois to climb above Ray and nod the ball over Wells and in.
The situation looked bleak for Town at the break, trailing and looking ahead to playing into the wind after the break. However, they made a really positive start to the second period, showing plenty of purpose and keeping the ball well.
Neil Barrett headed Green’s excellent corner wide, while Green was inches away from levelling the game just before the hour.
McAuley’s cross from the right was only cleared as far as the left-back, whose powerful shot from the edge of the area smacked against the base of the post. Further chances followed in the aftermath, with Ibe accidentally blocking Holder-Spooner’s effort and Manny Williams’ touch letting him down, allowing Bromley ’keeper Joe Welch to grab the loose ball.
With Town pushing forward, Bromley began to threaten on the break. Jay May fired wide from distance, while a mistake by Smart led to a chance for Goldberg at the near post, but his effort was straight at Wells.
Things got even harder for the hosts on 67 minutes. Ray slipped when in possession of the ball midway inside his own half and was forced to handle to prevent Goldberg having a clear run on goal.
He could have little argument with Hulme’s decision to show him a second yellow card, but the official must have been regretting his decision to give the centre-back a soft booking in the first half.
As Town reorganised, Bromley threatened to take the game away from them. Goldberg’s clever flick gave May a sight of goal but he shot wide, while the same player also failed to make the most of a Gasson mistake, firing over.
Having acclimatised to the loss of Ray, Town took charge again, pinning Bromley in their own penalty area.
Williams’ corner zipped across the face of goal, while Barrett saw his header from Green’s flag-kick headed off the line. Holder-Spooner also went close seconds later, making room for a shot that Welch managed to tip over the crossbar thanks to a full-length dive.
Bromley should have sealed the win on the break late on, failing to make the most of three good chances.
Goldberg put Joseph-Dubois in the clear but Wells spread himself well to save. The goalkeeper was beaten seconds later, when Smart’s header left Goldberg through, but Green got back to make an outstanding goal-line clearance, while Wells saved from May on the follow-up.
The final opportunity fell to the impressive Green. Jenkinson played him in and the left-back’s lobbed centre may have gone in had it not been cleared from under the Bromley crossbar.
Basingstoke Town: Wells, Smart, Green, Barrett, Gasson, Ray, Jenkinson, McAuley (sub Matthews 72min), Ibe, Williams, Holder-Spooner. Subs (not used): Rice, Dunn, Adams, McDonnell.
Bromley: Welch, Pooley, Anderson, Waldren (sub Buchanan 57min), Swaine, Holland, Joseph-Dubois (sub Parmenter 88min), Nicholls, May, Goldberg, Kiernan (sub Hall 60min). Subs (not used): Swallow, Oyinsan.
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