FOOTBALL managers can do all of the tactical planning they like – but one thing they will never be able to control is the weather.

The conditions, specifically a strong wind blowing from the Clubhouse End to the Town End of the Camrose, had a big bearing on Saturday’s game between Basingstoke Town and Dover Athletic.

The hosts dealt with it much better and emerged deserved 2-0 winners.


Basingstoke Town named an unchanged team, operating the 4-4-2 system that had seen them record victories over both Boreham Wood and Dorchester.

Dover lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Chris Kinnear and James Rogers protecting the back four and Barry Cogan, Tom Murphy and Liam Bellamy looking to support lone striker Nathan Elder.

First half

Basingstoke captain Wes Daly clearly lost the toss as the sides swapped ends, with Dover enjoying the benefit of having the wind behind them in the first half.

The visitors made a strong start, using the wind to whip in a series of dangerous corners, while Town found it hard to clear their lines properly against the breeze.

There was an interesting clash of styles as Dover played a direct game, looking to get the ball up to striker Elder as soon as possible, while Town attempted to pass the ball out from the back.

With the wind behind them, Dover’s strategy was flawed, with many of their long balls getting caught up in the wind and bouncing harmlessly into the arms of home goalkeeper Louis Wells.

The plan seemed to be for Bellamy and Murphy to get on the end of Elder’s flicks, but they failed to get beyond the striker and when they did, his flicks were blown out of reach.

Town increased the visitors’ problems by operating a higher defensive line than usual. Elder lacked the pace to threaten in behind, while the high line further increased the chances of long balls running straight through to Wells.

Coming up against a 4-2-3-1 formation had cost Town dear during the 4-1 defeat to Havant and Waterlooville. However, Dover’s long-ball tactics and the hosts switch from a diamond to 4-4-2 meant Basingstoke were better placed to defend the space between defence and midfield.

The first half was very much spoilt by the wind, with both sides struggling, but Andrew Jenkinson’s well-taken goal made it a very good 45 minutes for Town.

Second half

Dover’s direct style may have fared slightly better playing into the wind, making high balls difficult to judge. Basingstoke adjusted defensively, sitting slightly deeper, while their more considered approach put Dover on the back foot, with the visitors finding themselves penned in their own half at times.

The visitors enjoyed their best spell of the half, and possibly the match, midway through the second period, when they began to pass the ball around a bit more, making the most of their extra man in midfield.

However, they were unable to really test Wells as they lacked imagination in the final third, while the chances they did create were wasted by poor finishing.

The Dover manager attempted to change the game with his substitutes, but they had little effect, while Simon Dunn again impressed when he replaced Jenkinson for Town.

The hosts sewed the game up from a set-piece, Adam Green’s excellent, wind-assisted delivery allowing Matt Partridge to double the lead – and they saw the game out well despite Partridge’s red card.


The wind may have been a major factor in Saturday’s game – but Town made the subtle changes needed to cope with the conditions, while Dover attempted to play their normal game.

The switch to 4-4-2 seems to be working for Town, especially defensively. The early-season 4-3-3 shape left them too open, while the diamond meant there was space for the opposition to exploit in wide areas and in front of the defence.

Having a flat, four-man midfield means that the back four are far better protected and the result – three clean sheets in a row – speaks for itself.