PLAYING at a high tempo was the key for Basingstoke Town as they came from behind to beat visiting Boreham Wood 2-1.

For the best part of an hour, Town were fairly quiet, playing a bit slowly and allowing Boreham Wood to control the game.

However, Chris Flood’s equalising goal on 58 minutes seemed to flick a switch. Suddenly they began to play at a much higher tempo, pushing the visitors back.

There were chances at both ends, and it took an excellent save from goalkeeper Stuart Moore to prevent Basingstoke going behind, but the last half-an-hour belonged to the hosts and they were rewarded with a winning goal three minutes from time.


Town stuck with the formation they have been utilising throughout the early stages of the season, operating a midfield diamond with the full-backs asked to provide width.

As has been the case in the last few weeks, Simon Dunn was asked to anchor a very attacking midfield quartet that also featured Louie Soares and Shaun McAuley, with Manny Williams in the hole behind the front two.

Liam Enver-Marum was the focal point of the attack, with Flood buzzing around him and dropping into midfield without the ball.

Boreham Wood operated a lop-sided 4-4-2 system, with Graeme Montgomery far more advanced on the left wing than his fellow midfielders. Both central midfielders played a fairly conservative role, allowing for this.

A slow start

Neither side really grabbed hold of the game in the early stages, with little intensity to the game. This suited the visitors more than the hosts.

While Town’s aim is to work the ball through midfield, with players taking as few touches as possible, Boreham Wood were happy to play the ball straight up to the strikers. It was a direct rather than a long-ball approach, and one that allowed the front four to cause problems in dangerous areas.

Out of possession, the visitors worked hard to stop Town playing, with the wide midfielders tucking in to close down the space in the centre of the field, where they already had two defensive-minded players.

The result was Flood dropping into midfield to help out, making Town’s formation more like 4-5-1 at times. It’s something that the selfless Flood is more than happy to do, but it means that he is not as much of a goal threat.

Boreham Wood’s goal came from a set-piece, a well-worked routine they used on a couple of occasions where a player made a late run from deep to arrive at the far post, catching Enver-Marum napping defensively.

However, the move that led to the corner was a classic example of their style of play. The ball was played up to the strikers, who linked up with Montgomery on the edge of the box, and it was his shot that Moore had to push over the crossbar.

Goals change games

It’s an age-old adage, but one that was demonstrated perfectly on Saturday.

For the first 13 minutes of the second half, the pattern of the game remained the same as it had been before the break, with little urgency from either side.

Town seemed to be getting frustrated, with defenders too often forced to play long balls forward due to a lack of options in midfield.

Another long ball looked on the cards when Nathan Smart received the ball just inside his own half on 58 minutes. However, what followed was an example of the way Town have been and should be playing.

Enver-Marum dropped deep, giving Smart an option and dragging a central defender out of position. Smart duly found him with a pass along the ground and Enver-Marum’s first-time flick set Shaun McAuley free down the right.

He made ground, but didn’t dwell on the ball or attempt to take a player on, getting his head up and putting in a low centre that Flood seized upon to level the scores.

It was a fine goal, and it completely altered the game. Town suddenly had a spring in their step and upped the tempo, forcing the visitors onto the back foot.

For a 15-minute spell they were almost completely dominant, but they were unable to score during this time and the game became very open in the closing stages as the teams tired.

Moore had to make a couple more good saves to keep the scores level but it was Town who found a late winner. Now playing higher up the pitch, Flood was able to race onto Tom Bird’s ball over the top, outpace the defence and fire home.


All in all, the game was a high-quality affair between two good sides and a great advert for Conference South football. A draw probably would have been a fair result, but it was an excellent win for the hosts, who are not particularly well suited to chasing games.

With Town’s set-up and style of play, tempo is key. Play at a high tempo and their passing will cause problems for every side in the league, but if the pace of play is not high enough, it can be difficult to work the ball through midfield.

It is also important for Flood not to find himself getting dragged too deep. His work-rate is impressive, but he is Town’s biggest goal threat.