BASINGSTOKE Town held runaway league leaders Chesham United to a 1-1 draw at Winklebury on Saturday, in front of a bumper ‘Non-League Day’ crowd of 926.

Coming off the back of four consecutive league wins, most recently a 3-2 success over Hendon, Basingstoke were set for another huge challenge in their bid to continue their unbeaten run as champions-elect Chesham came to town. The Generals had opened up a 14-point gap at the top of the Southern League Premier South and were worthy winners in the reverse fixture – 2-0 at The Meadow.

The visitors began the game quickly and soon found themselves ahead, just seven minutes in. An incisive passing move on the right-hand side of the box, was eventually worked across to Alex Lafleur who took the ball onto his right foot and fired across Simon Grant into the bottom corner.

Chesham continued to dominate proceedings early on and felt aggrieved when Curtis Angell was shown yellow by the referee for a lunging challenge on Lafleur, which they felt should have resulted in a sending off.

Basingstoke were the next side to go close, though, as James Clark struck a central free-kick narrowly wide of the left post.

The home side did then level the game minutes later, with midfield loanee Elliott Bolton netting his first Basingstoke goal on the stroke of half-time. Bolton swung in a free-kick, which led to a chaotic scramble in the box – with Chesham eventually defusing the situation. However, Brad Clayton was dispossessed on the edge of the box allowing Bolton to dart forward and send an excellent left-footed finish past Zaki Oualah.

There was nothing between the sides at the break, and ‘Stoke came out of the blocks quickly in the second period – denied the lead only by the crossbar after 10 minutes. Brad Wilson whipped a ball in from the right-hand side of the box, which landed on the head of Liam Ferdinand – who nodded agonisingly onto the bar.

Ferdinand had another chance not long later, as he brought down a long goal kick under pressure from Kieran Murphy before turning and striking a long-range effort on target – forcing Oualah to get down and push wide.

Basingstoke controlled large parts of the second half and had one final chance to win the game very late on – through Brad Wilson. Substitute Dan Rowe collected the ball in midfield and played it to Wilson, who drove at the Chesham defence and fired a low shot from outside the box which Oualah stopped – quickly diving on the ball before the onrushing Ferdinand could swoop in.

Wilson’s effort proved to be the last real chance of the game, and the full-time whistle was blown with the points shared. The result saw the visitors’ stay 14 clear at the summit, whilst Dan Brownlie’s side continued their impressive run of form – registering just one defeat in their previous eight league matches.

Basingstoke’s attention now turns to Easter Bank Holiday weekend – where they host Gosport Borough on Friday and travel to Salisbury on Monday, the sides placed second and third in the table as it stands.