STRIKERS Lloyd Macklin and Sam Argent gave Basingstoke Town manager Jason Bristow plenty to ponder with excellent second-half displays against Hungerford Town last night.
The Town boss will trim his squad ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Newport County, so Macklin and Argent chose the perfect time to score their first goals for the club.
Macklin was especially impressive, winning a penalty that Andrew Jenkinson was unable to convert before firing in an excellent solo goal and providing an inch-perfect cross for Argent to make it 3-1.
It was far from plain sailing for Town in the first half, when they had most of their contracted players on the pitch, but the triallists showed them how it should be done after the break.
The visitors were without Jay Gasson and Louie Soares due to injury, but Southern League outfit Hungerford also played very well in the opening 45 minutes.
They pressed high up the pitch, making it hard for Town to pass out from the back, while Robbie Rice had to make a couple of key interceptions to deny the hosts an early chance.
Lee Smith had their first real shot of note, an effort Stuart Moore allowed to slip through his fingers, but the Basingstoke ’keeper recovered well to claim the loose ball.
Town managed to get on the front foot for a short spell, with Simon Dunn having a shot well blocked and Liam Enver-Marum’s follow-up effort forcing a good save from the home goalkeeper.
However, it was still against the run of play that Town went ahead on 21 minutes. Nathan Smart’s ball down the right found Julian Owusu and he showed great skill to beat his man before pulling the ball back for Manny Williams, who had time to take a touch before smashing it into the top corner.
Hungerford responded well, with Smith, James Rushbury and Ian Herring all going close, while Moore made a fine save to keep out Josh Parson’s effort from a free-kick.
They got the equaliser they deserved six minutes before the break, James Clark firing past Moore after being played through by Parson.
Town made a number of changes at half-time and one of the substitutes, Macklin, had an immediate impact, being brought down by Rushbury for a penalty . Sadly, Jenkinson scuffed the spot-kick wide.
Owusu failed to control an excellent pass from Adam Nditi as Town pressed, and it was Macklin who put them back in front on 62 minutes.
Great thigh control gave the forward an opportunity to let fly from the edge of the area, and he found the bottom corner of the net.
Moore had to make a fine save from Harry Goodyer’s header to keep his side in front, but another fine goal completed the scoring on 76 minutes.
Argent and Macklin were both involved in a really quick attack, before Macklin’s inch-perfect centre found Argent at the far post. He still had plenty to do, but an excellent header across the goalkeeper made it 3-1.
There was still time for Shane Hollamby to make a brave tackle and Chris Flood to put a low effort wide at the end of a nice run, but Town saw the game out to stretch their unbeaten pre-season run to four games.
Click here to see a post-match video interview with Basingstoke Town manager Jason Bristow
Stuart Moore – 7 out of 10
Made a couple of good saves and had no chance with the Hungerford goal.
Nathan Smart – 7
Solid display at right-back.
Tom Bird – 6
Hungerford caused problems down the Town left. Unable to get forward as much as he would have liked.
Andrew Jenkinson – 5
Hungerford were able to cause problems in the space between Town’s defence and midfield, an area he should have been marshalling. Poor penalty attempt.
Robert Rice – 8
A rock at the back for Town. Made some crucial interceptions.
Kieran Maylen – 6
Not the youngster’s best display, who was caught out of position a couple of times.
Simon Dunn – 6
Town’s best midfielder on the night, but he couldn’t prevent his side being over-run in the centre of the park.
Shaun McAuley – 6
A quiet game for the attacking midfielder, who was unable to have an impact on the game.
Liam Enver-Marum – 6
Starved of service but movement wasn’t great.
Julian Owusu – 7
Great work to set up the opening goal, but a peripheral figure otherwise.
Manny Williams – 7
Great finish to open the scoring, but had little effect on the game otherwise.
Chris Flood (for Williams 40) – 6
Still doesn’t look comfortable at the point of the diamond in midfield.
Lloyd Macklin (for Enver-Marum 45) – 9 (Gazette Star Man)
May have played himself into Bristow’s squad. Hungerford couldn’t live with his pace and power. Won a penalty, scored a goal and created the third for Argent.
Adam Nditi (for Bird 45) – 7
A class above everyone else, but he needs to stop showing off before it gets him hurt. One trick too many meant no end product. Frustrating.
Shane Hollamby (for Maylen 45) – 7
Solid display from the centre-back, who made one particularly good challenge late on.
Sam Argent (for Owusu 58) – 8
Hard-working and intelligent display capped with an excellent finish for the third goal.
Josh Drew (for Dunn 58) – 6
A peripheral figure.
Junior Strassa (for Jenkinson 58) – 7
Solid but unspectacular display from the holding midfielder.