Basingstoke Town prepare for a frantic finale to the season

Shaun McAuley taking on the Bath defence when the sides met at the Camrose last month.

Shaun McAuley taking on the Bath defence when the sides met at the Camrose last month. Buy this photo

First published in Sport Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

AFTER seeing two more games postponed this week, Basingstoke Town are facing a frantic final two months of the season.

Saturday’s home game against Chelmsford City and Tuesday evening’s trip to Farnborough both fell foul of the wet weather, leaving Town with 18 league games and a Hampshire Cup semi-final to play between now and the end of April.

In the 56 days between March 1 and April 26, the final day of the Conference South season, Jason Bristow’s men must play 18 games, an average of one every three days.

They have already agreed to play Hayes and Yeading United on a Thursday, April 3, while the postponement of Tuesday’s trip to Farnborough means that they must play four times in the space of seven days on at least one occasion.

It’s going to be an energy-sapping final few weeks of the campaign – and Town manager Bristow says his side must put together a decent run of results as soon as possible if they are to close the nine-point gap to the play-off places.

“We want to get back to playing on a regular basis and go on a good run,” he said. “We are not playing in midweek next week and could fall even further behind, but in March we start playing three and sometimes four times a week.

“It is especially important that we put a run together in that period because everyone has a lot of games and the pitches will be heavy, so I expect some surprise results.”

Next up for Town is a trip to Somerset to take on in-form Bath City, who have launched themselves into play-off contention with a good winter run.

“Bath are in good form and if they do not win then they make sure that they do not lose,” Bristow said. “They are very well organised and have some experienced players.

“They are looking to progress and sustain themselves at a higher level. I have seen them several times and have been impressed by the way that they attack and defend as a team.

“We will need to come out quickly and on the front foot. We certainly cannot afford to let them get their noses in front.”

The teams played out an entertaining 0-0 draw when they met at the Camrose last month. Both sides had chances to win the game but the goalkeepers and the frame of the goal ensured that the game remained scoreless.

“It was a very entertaining game between two good sides and I don’t think there could have been any complaints if either side had won,” Bristow added. “The two goalkeepers were the best players on the pitch and a score draw would probably have been a fair result because both sides created chances.

“It was an entertaining game between two sides who try to play football and hopefully it will be the same again on Saturday.

“I expect midfield to be the key area again.

“Both sides had players in behind the strikers last time and that is something we might look at again, because Shaun McAuley was effective there for us.”

Town will be without the suspended Adam Green, with either Robbie Rice or Andrew Jenkinson likely to fill in at left-back in his absence.

For a change, it seems fairly likely that the game will go ahead. Bath have managed to play all of their home games in January and February, despite the recent wet spell.

Visit basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport for live text coverage from Twerton Park on Saturday afternoon.

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