WINCHESTER City staged a late comeback to hold Basingstoke Town to a 2-2 draw in their opening pre-season friendly at the Denplan Stadium last night.
Goals either side of half-time from Liam Enver-Marum and triallist Chris Flood had Town cruising, but late strikes from Reece Rusher and Warren Bentley, both scored after Basingstoke went down to 10 men, earned the hosts a draw.
Town began the game with eight of the 11 players they have already signed in the starting line-up. The only ones missing were David Ray, who is yet to completely recover from an ankle injury, Tom Bird, who was away on a business trip, and Shaun McAuley, who was left on the bench.
Zaki Oualah took on goalkeeping duties, Spaniard Borj Camacho started at left-back and Sam Argent, who was Hartley Wintney’s star player last season, began the game in attack.
Town made a positive start, keeping the ball well and creating a couple of half-chances, but Winchester were inches away from taking the lead when Luke Dempsey hit the crossbar after a corner was headed back across goal.
As the half went on, Town got more and more on top of their hosts. Argent and Jay Gasson both got headers in on goal, while Louie Soares twice went close after mazy runs.
Simon Dunn felt he should have had a penalty after his run into the box ended with him being brought down, but the visitors did go ahead on the stroke of half-time, Liam Enver-Marum firing home at the end of a nice move.
Half-time saw Town make eight changes, introducing a number of triallists, and one of these, former Eastleigh and Salisbury striker Chris Flood, doubled the lead from Soares’ cross on 52 minutes.
Further goals should have followed, with Soares, Flood, McAuley and Lloyd Macklin all failing to make the most of one-on-one opportunities as the visitors continued to dominate.
Town were forced to end the match with 10 men after Hollamby went off with a knock, and Winchester took advantage to claim a draw.
Reece Rusher pulled a goal back nine minutes from time and Daryl Phillips should have levelled soon after, putting a free header wide. However, they did manage to equalise in the final minute, Warren Bentley firing home an angled drive at the end of a nice move.
Click here to see a post-match interview with Basingstoke Town manager Jason Bristow.
Basingstoke Town: Oualah, Smart, Camacho, Jenkinson (sub Maylen 45min), Gasson (sub Hollamby 45min), Rice (sub Agebane 45min), Dunn (sub McAuley 45min), Soares (sub Owusu 68min), Enver-Marum (sub Flood 45min), Argent (sub Macklin 45min), Williams (sub Drew 45min).