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REPORT - Basingstoke Town 2 Staines Town 1
INJURY-HIT Basingstoke Town came from behind to claim an impressive victory over a decent Staines Town side at the Camrose on Saturday.
Things looked bad for the hosts when Louie Theophanous’ fine solo run ended with the opening goal of the game after just 13 minutes.
Looking to bounce back after suffering their first defeat of the season five days earlier, Town’s cause was already hampered by a six-strong injury list – and, when Staines took the lead, supporters must have been fearing the worst.
The most notable absentee was goalkeeper Louis Wells, an ankle problem keeping him out against his former team. Also missing were defenders Robbie Rice (concussion) and David Ray (illness), midfielder Nathan Campbell (hamstring) and strikers Robbie Matthews (ankle) and Jordace Holder-Spooner (shoulder).
As a result, Bristow was forced to hand first starts of the season to young goalkeeper Joe McDonnell, Nathan Smart and Shaun McAuley, while the bench was made up of teenagers.
Perhaps understandably, they did not get off to a great start, struggling to keep possession against a young, bright Staines side.
Theophanous fired a warning shot just over the bar early on before giving his side the lead. It was a great run, the striker picking the ball up just inside the Basingstoke half and evading four or five challenges before slotting past McDonnell – but Town will be disappointed not to have stopped him.
At that point, the outlook was bleak but Town responded almost immediately, Kezie Ibe holding off the ’keeper to head in Manny Williams’ corner from close range.
Staines had plenty of the ball throughout the half but were unable to do much with it, Jay Gasson snuffing out their only real chance following a strong run by the impre-ssive Stephane Ngamvoulou.
Basingstoke were not at their best but they did create chances. Simon Dunn’s header from Williams’ cross lacked power but forced Jack Turner in the Staines goal to make a decent save, while the excellent Williams struck to give his side the lead just before half-time.
Having won a free-kick on the left wing, Williams went over the wall towards the near post with the dead ball. Turner clawed the ball away, but the assistant ruled it had crossed the line.
Staines continued to press at the start of the second half but only tested McDonnell once, the youngster diving full-length to his left to keep out Huw Johnson’s effort from just outside the area. At the other end, Town created three clear-cut chances – but they could not put the game to bed.
Ibe had the first, finding himself through on goal from Dunn’s pass, but he did not do enough to beat the onrushing Turner, who also made the save when Adam Green’s cross found Williams at the far post, the striker failing to make clean contact with his volley.
Williams had a second clear chance moments later, when he was put through by Neil Barrett’s excellent pass. He took the ball around Turner with a clever shimmy but the goalkeeper did well to force him wide, giving a defender the chance to get back and hack the ball off the line.
Staines ran out of ideas towards the end of the game but Town needed a good block from Wes Daly to deny Joe Hughes after McDonnell dropped a ball into the area.
Basingstoke Town: McDonnell, Smart, A Green, Barrett, Gasson, Adams, Daly, Dunn, Ibe, Williams, McAuley (sub Jenkinson 65min). Subs (not used): Johnson-Schuster, Maylan, Parker, K Green.
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