Basingstoke Town extended their unbeaten run to six games with an emphatic 3-0 victory over second-placed Gosport Borough.

After holding champions-elect Chesham United to a 1-1 draw at Winklebury the week prior, Dan Brownlie’s side prepared to host Gosport in the first leg of their Easter Bank Holiday double-header.

The Boro came away 4-1 victors in the reverse fixture in August, but ‘Stoke were handed a pre-match boost this time around with the return to fitness of Dan Isaiah Rowe – who was named in the starting lineup for the first time since returning from injury.

The opening stages of the game were fairly even, with neither side really generating too many big opportunities. However, Basingstoke thought they had taken the lead when Rowe chipped over goalkeeper Toby Steward after an incisive Liam Ferdinand pass. The celebrations were swiftly cut short, though, as the linesman flagged to deny Rowe a goal on his return.

The remainder of the first period followed a similar pattern, with the visitors perhaps having the best of the chances, but both teams were found guilty of a lack of end product – meaning the match was goalless at the break.

‘Stoke began the second half quickly and were rewarded when Brad Wilson gave his side the lead in the 56th minute. Massimo Giamattei sent a long pass forward which caused confusion amongst the Gosport backline, with Zak Sharp heading the ball onto Steward. Ferdinand collected the loose ball on the left and played it into the box, to Wilson, who cut inside and blasted home.

Just 10 minutes later, Basingstoke doubled their advantage – through a Dan Rowe header. The No.10 won a free-kick midway into the Boro half, which Elliott Bolton whipped into the box. Billy Upton got onto the end of it, nodding across the area to Wilson, who hooked the ball back for Rowe to flick in.

In what was turning out to be one of ‘Stoke’s most impressive halves of the season to date, Dan Rowe was on target again, just 15 minutes from full-time, to extend the lead to three goals. The move began with Wilson chasing an ambitious ball down the right flank, eventually putting it out for a throw-in next to the corner flag. Zak Sharp restarted play, but centre-back Rory Williams misplaced a first-time pass which fell to the feet of Rowe – who rocketed the bouncing ball into the bottom-left corner.

Striker Liam Ferdinand then looked to have added his name to the scoresheet, when he showed composure to finish from a flick-on into the box, but was flagged offside by the referee’s assistant.

As the game edged to a close, goalkeeper Simon Grant made a series of impressive saves to deny Gosport and keep the clean sheet intact – as well as ensuring that Basingstoke would register their seventh victory in nine games.

With a crowd of 900+ in attendance at Winklebury for the second consecutive week, Dan Brownlie’s side now look forward to an away trip on Easter Monday, after four straight home matches, to third-placed Salisbury.