FOR the second time in the space of five days, Basingstoke Town produced an excellent display to pick up three points on the road.
Having brushed Bath City aside last Tuesday, Jason Bristow’s men travelled to Bromley, a side expected to challenge for the Vanarama Conference South title this season, and were well worth their victory.
Bristow stuck with the same starting 11 for the third consecutive game and they really did a number on Bromley, frustrating the hosts without the ball and passing the ball quickly and precisely when they won possession.
The home side made a positive start and seemed to have got their tactics right in the early stages.
Town’s centre-backs were allowed to have possession, but the strikers prevented the ball being passed into midfield.
Bromley worked the first chance after five minutes as the ball broke for Pierre Joseph-Dubois on the left side of the six-yard-box, but Town goalkeeper Jonathan Henly narrowed the angle and made a good save.
The resulting corner also caused problems, Jamie Slabber eventually poking the ball wide, but Basingstoke served notice of their quality going forward soon after. A nice move down the left resulted in Shaun McAuley teeing Chris Flood up, but he fired over when afforded time and space on the edge of the area.
Bromley were soon back on the front foot, a period of sustained pressure ending with Moses Ademola shooting too close to Henly from the edge of the box.
However, Town looked dangerous on the break and good play from Flood almost led to a chance for Simon Dunn, before Manny Williams fired into the side-netting.
The visitors then began to get on top, pressing high up the pitch to stop Bromley playing, forcing them into aimless balls forward.
However, the hosts could have taken the lead from one such ball. Jay Gasson was out-muscled by Ademola battling for one and the forward found himself in on goal, but he failed to get a shot away and the chance passed.
Instead, it was Town who opened the scoring on 39 minutes. Dunn broke into the area to get on the end of Manny Williams’ clever pass and was tripped by Ali Fuseini, with the referee pointing to the penalty spot.
Williams expertly tucked the spot-kick away, finding the corner of the net despite Seb Brown diving the right way.
Bromley had a couple of opportunities before the break but were unable to make the most of them, with Joseph-Dubois dragging his shot wide and Henly keeping out Joe Anderson’s free-kick.
Town almost doubled their lead early in the second half, but Liam Enver-Marum could only redirect McAuley’s cross against the far post.
That looked like it could be a costly miss as Bromley piled on the pressure, but Town defended stoutly, making good challenges and blocks.
They somehow smuggled Rob Swaine’s header across goal clear but Bromley missed a golden chance to equalise just before the hour.
A long ball forward found Ademola in behind and while Robbie Rice got back to make a good challenge, Gasson dangled his leg out and the forward went over to earn his side a penalty.
Slabber stepped up to take it but Henly chose the right way and was able to hold on to the forward’s weak spot-kick diving to his right.
Bromley responded by making all three of their substitutions and they continued to press, but Town switched to a 4-5-1 system and defended stoutly.
They rode their luck at times, with Louis Dennis cross somehow evading everyone as it zipped across goal, while the same player also felt he could have had a penalty but was waved to his feet by the referee.
The hosts ran out of ideas as the game went on and it was Basingstoke who scored the vital second goal of the game on 82 minutes.
Flood, who was outstanding all day, played a neat one-two with Williams before firing past Brown from close range to score the goal his performance warrented.
Bromley had a couple of chances to make the closing stages interesting, but Dennis headed wide and Joseph-Dubois volleyed straight at Henly.
Town added a third goal in injury-time to complete a miserable day for the hosts. Substitute Lloyd Macklin released the excellent Dunn and he squared for McAuley to score from close range with what was practically the final kick of the game.
An excellent result for Town saw them move up to third in the Vanarama Conference South table, just one point behind the leaders.
Click here to see a post-match video interview with Basingstoke Town manager Jason Bristow.
Jonathan Henly – 8 out of 10
Not tested too much but made an excellent early stop and his penalty save was a real turning point in the game.
Nathan Smart – 7
A fine defensive display from Town’s dependable right-back. Always willing to put his body on the line.
Tom Bird – 8
Solid defensively and a threat going forward. Always available to receive the ball from his centre-backs.
Andrew Jenkinson – 7
Bromley denied him time and space in the first half, but the midfielder grew into the game as it went on and did a good job of protecting the back four.
Jay Gasson – 7
Made a couple of mistakes, including giving away the penalty, but made his fair share of headers and blocks.
Robbie Rice – 8
Didn’t put a foot wrong for the entire 90 minutes. David Ray may find it hard to displace him in the side.
Simon Dunn – 9 (Gazette Star Man)
Drove Town forward from midfield, breaking into the area to create two of the goals. Also worked tirelessly without the ball. A great display.
Shaun McAuley – 8
Followed up his performance against Bath with another fine display. A threat on the ball and disciplined when his side were out of possession.
Liam Enver-Marum – 7
Played an important role in holding the ball up but failed to make the most of his one clear chance.
Chris Flood – 9
Excellent again from the pacy striker. Worked hard for the team both on and off the ball and fully deserved his goal.
Manny Williams – 8
Continues to excel in the hole behind the strikers. Worked his socks off and linked the play well.
Louie Soares (for Enver-Marum 71min) – 7
Helped to secure the midfield.
David Ray (for Williams 85min) – 6
Thrown on towards the end as Town looked to see the game out.
Lloyd Macklin (for Flood 88min) – 7
Played a part in the final goal.
Subs (not used): Argent, Owusu.
Bromley: Brown, Udoji, Anderson, Fuseni, Swaine, Bailey-Dennis, Joseph-Dubois, Prestledge, Slabber (sub Scannell 60min), Ademola (sub Birchall 60min), Grant (sub Dennis 60min). Subs (not used): Waldren, Higgins.