BASINGSTOKE Town outclassed a poor Dorchester side to record an emphatic away victory in Dorset on Saturday.

The way the teams lined up should have made for an interesting tactical battle – but Basingstoke were so superior on the day that they simply over-ran the hosts, who were forced to change shape several times in an attempt to get a foothold in the game.


Basingstoke Town manager Jason Bristow made just one change to the side that had beaten Boreham Wood seven days earlier, Robbie Matthews coming into attack in place of Kezie Ibe. Simon Dunn somewhat surprisingly remained on the bench, with Andrew Jenkinson retaining his place on the left side of midfield in a 4-4-2 system.

Dorchester lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, possibly designed to protect veteran centre-back Ashley Vickers. Nick Crittenden, best known as a winger, wore the number two shirt and was asked to play as a wing-back.

First half

Dorchester’s tactics were interesting – but fatally flawed. The decision to operate a high defensive line was especially foolhardy considering that 41-year-old Vickers was the man marshalling the back three and they were found out almost immediately.

Both wing-backs and two of the back three were at fault for Town’s opening goal just three minutes into the game.

A quick throw caught Crittenden napping and he failed to track Jenkinson, whose low ball in should have been dealt with by either Vickers or Jake Smeeton. When they failed to get the ball away, Shaun McAuley arrived unmarked to fire home, having never been picked up by Neil Martin.

McAuley and Jenkinson caused problems for the hosts throughout, getting behind the wing-backs or drifting inside, while Town employed a more direct style. Matthews did well, winning plenty of balls in the air, while Manny Williams was a constant threat in behind the defence.

In contrast, Dorchester looked to play the ball through the centre of midfield, trying to exploit their extra man in that area. However, with an uneven pitch making passing difficult and Town pressing well, more often than not they succeeded only in gifting the visitors possession in dangerous areas.

It wasn’t long before the hosts switched formations, matching Town’s shape, a move that coincided with their best spell of the game, though that isn’t saying much.

The visitors were soon back on top and Williams’ brace effectively sealed the win before half-time.

Second half

Dorchester reverted to 3-5-2 after the break, pushing captain Mark Jermyn into defence as a sweeper. Town countered this by moving to a midfield diamond, wiping out the hosts’ extra man in the centre of the park.

McAuley was the main beneficiary of these changes, moving from the right wing to his favoured role in behind the strikers. He continued to cause problems, finding pockets of space across the pitch.

As Dorchester committed men forward looking to get back into the game, Town were afforded the space they needed to play the passing game they have been cultivating this season, keeping the ball away from the hosts and killing the game.

The only downside was Partridge being moved to the right side of the diamond. This meant he was unable to carry out the fetching and carrying role in midfield, collecting the ball from the centre-backs to ensure they always have a simple pass available.

The second half was something of a non-event, but Dunn again impressed coming off the bench, looking sharp, providing width down the left and creating the fourth goal for fellow substitute Neil Barrett.


Dorchester were poor on the day – but Town played intelligently, exploiting their weaknesses.

Both systems the visitors used on the day worked well, with McAuley the star throughout, and it will be interesting to see how Basingstoke line up when they face a strong Dover side at the Camrose on Saturday.

The problem of attacking width seems to have been largely solved, with two of the four goals and numerous other chances originating from wide areas, while their attacks are now less predictable.