WITH his side facing a serious backlog of fixtures, Basingstoke Town manager Jason Bristow has admitted his surprise that more consideration has not been given to allowing artificial pitches in the Football Conference.
A proposal to allow clubs in the three Football Conference leagues to replace their pitches with modern artificial surfaces was voted down by a margin of 21 votes to 11 at an Extraordinary General Meeting held last month.
Bristow attended the meeting and while he admits that he is a traditionalist, he was surprised that there was not a bigger debate on the subject.
“I was surprised that nobody really spoke up in favour of the new artificial pitches,” he said. “It just seemed to go straight to a vote.
“I was also surprised that it was voted down by such a big margin, especially as the meeting took place at a time when we were struggling with the weather.
“It has been easy to see the benefits of 3G pitches in recent weeks. Sides in other leagues have them and they are well up on their games, while there is also a financial benefit, in terms of training on the pitch and hiring it out.
“Artificial turf has come a long way in the last few years. You get pretty much the same bounce you do on grass and it is not as abrasive.”
Having seen their trip to Hayes and Yeading United postponed on Saturday, Town face a busy schedule in the remaining weeks of the season.
They still have 18 Conference South games and a Hampshire Senior Cup semi-final to play, with just 11 Saturdays and 10 midweek dates available.
At present, they have just three midweek dates without a game, but they are still to rearrange their trip to Hayes and Yeading. That match could prove to be a problem as either one or both of the sides are already scheduled to play on every available Tuesday until the end of the season, meaning the game may have to be played on a Thursday.
However, Town are comparatively well up on their games. The worst off are Havant and Waterlooville, who still have at least 25 games to play, with just 21 dates available.
“It’s going to be a long haul for most clubs and there could be a few more games called off yet,” Bristow said. “It’s down to the club secretaries to get together and see if they can find a solution.
“I’m sure all clubs would be keen to avoid playing Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, so if there is a way around it, we will take it.”
Town are due to play two games in the coming week, hosting Chelmsford on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) before making the short trip to Farnborough on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm).
Basingstoke go into the games above both sides in the Conference South standings, but the gap between 11th-placed Town and the play-off places has crept up to seven points.
“A couple of wins can really change the way the table looks at the moment,” Bristow said. “One win can push you up a few places but two or three and we would be right in the mix. That is what we are aiming to do.
“Chelmsford have been in fantastic form and it will be a tough game, while Farnborough have won their last two and will be a different side to the one we beat on Boxing Day.”
Town will be without left-back Adam Green due to suspension, while midfielder Matt Partridge will be out for a while after damaging ankle ligaments playing for Reading Under-21s. However, Andrew Jenkinson and Jordace Holder-Spooner have both recovered from minor injuries and will be in contention.
Visit basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport for live text coverage from both games.