BASINGSTOKE Town overcame a hard-working Maidenhead United side – and a heavy pitch – to record their fourth consecutive win and clean sheet.

Despite the difficult conditions, Town were able to play some nice football and dominate the game. They should have been out of sight by half-time but having scored only once, there were some nervous moments as Maidenhead threw players forward in the second half.


Basingstoke manager Jason Bristow stuck with the starting 11 that had won the previous two games, lining up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Shaun McAuley and Andrew Jenkinson as fairly narrow wingers.

Maidenhead lined up in a 4-5-1 formation. Richard Pacquette played as the loan striker, with Danny Green and Reece Tison-Lascaris supporting him from the wings.

First half

Town captain Wes Daly won the toss, but rather than opting to shoot up the slope, giving his side the advantage in the second half, he chose to shoot down the hill in the first half.

This flies in the face of perceived wisdom, which suggests that a team would be better off shooting downhill in the second half, when tiredness is more of a factor.

However, with Town having won three in a row and Maidenhead without a victory in two months, it was a clever ploy.

Playing with the slope helped the visitors to dominate the early stages and had Andrew Jenkinson found the net with his early chance, Maidenhead’s fragile confidence would have been dented further.

Despite a boggy pitch and only having two men in the centre of midfield, the visitors were able to pass the ball around with a degree of control, while also showing an ability to mix things up by playing longer balls towards Robbie Matthews.

He won more than his fair share in the air, while Manny Williams played his usual game, providing a threat in behind the defence and hassling the opposition back four.

Town looked most dangerous down the right, with Shaun McAuley finding space between Maidenhead’s left winger and left back. Nathan Smart also looked to get forward down that side and he too got into some good positions, though his final delivery was somewhat lacking.

Maidenhead’s tactic of choice was to knock long balls into the channels for their tricky wingers to chase, but both wide men were well marshalled in the opening 45 minutes and the home side created little.

Town were forced to make a change after just 20 minutes, Neil Barrett replacing the injured Matt Partridge. It took the visitors time to adjust, but Barrett took up largely the same position Partridge had.

The main difference between the two midfielders is Barrett’s desire to get into the opposition penalty area.

This is a double-edged sword.

Barrett’s goal on Saturday was his third of the season, making him Town’s second-highest league goalscorer, and he was the furthest Basingstoke player forward when Alfie Mawson’s horrible error gifted him what proved to be the winner.

However, this means that he provides less of a defensive shield than Partridge, who is also better at providing a link between defence and midfield when Town have the ball.

Barrett’s goal meant that Basingstoke went in at half-time deservedly ahead, but with the possession and territory they enjoyed, it will be a slight concern that they needed to be gifted a goal.

Second half

They had been content to get men behind the ball in the first half, but conceding just before half-time forced Maidenhead to go on the offensive after the break.

Town defended well and soaked up the pressure, but they continued to pass the ball well, frustrating the home side.

Maidenhead's tactics were largely the same but they committed more men forward and allowed their wingers to play higher up the pitch.

Tison-Lascaris showed himself to be a threat down the left in the early stages, but his effectiveness was stunted on the hour. The hosts made a double change and switched to 4-4-2, with Tison-Lascaris asked to play as a striker, taking him away from the area where he had been doing damage.

Bristow made his usual change, replacing Jenkinson, who had a quiet game, with Simon Dunn, whose energy once again gave Town a boost in the final half-an-hour.

Maidenhead changed shape again with 15 minutes to go, the introduction of Jacob Erskine seeing them switch to 4-3-3.

They huffed and puffed but their best chance came from a Town corner, Green hitting the post after a quick break, and the visitors were largely comfortable as they saw the game out.


Despite the state of the pitch, Town were able to play some nice football and deserved their win. They were not at their best in the final third, relying on a defensive error and another clean sheet for the win, but they worked hard and got the job done.

With Partridge now suspended, it will be interesting to see who Bristow decides to play alongside Wes Daly in the centre of midfield this weekend. He has several options, with all of them providing something different.

Nathan Campbell is an out-and-out defensive midfielder. He lacks a bit of quality on the ball but is the best Town have when it comes to shielding the back four.

Neil Barrett has quality and is a threat in the opposition box, but he is not as good defensively, while Dunn and Jenkinson are also options.