BASINGSTOKE Town stayed patient to claim their fourth successive Vanarama Conference South victory.

Eastbourne Borough travelled to The Soccer AM Stadium with a clear gameplan to try and frustrate in-form Town, and it looked like it might be one of those days for the hosts, who rattled the frame of the goal twice in the first half.

They also failed to make the most of several clear chances, but they held their nerve and got what proved to be the winning goal 20 minutes from time.


Basingstoke stuck with the 3-5-2 system that had earned them victories over Ebbsfleet United and Staines Town in the previous week.

It’s a system that seems to suit them. Tom Bird and Nathan Smart are the ideal wing-backs, full of energy and pace, while all three of the centre-backs are comfortable on the ball.

In midfield, Jamie Brown sat in front of the back three, allowing Louie Soares and Simon Dunn to get forward.

Eastbourne also played a 3-5-2 formation, but they operated with two holding midfielders, leaving Dean Sinclair with the responsibility of getting forward to support the attackers.

Eastbourne look to shut Town down

The game got off to a fairly open start before settling into something of a pattern. Eastbourne played a fairly high defensive line and used the front three to close down Town’s defenders, attempting to prevent the ball being played into midfield.

They did a pretty decent job, but the hosts looked very dangerous when they were able to break out, with Chris Flood and Lloyd Macklin threatening in behind the Eastbourne defence.

The hosts also posed problems from set-pieces. David Ray was unfortunate to see his header hit a defender on the line and then the crossbar from a corner, while Macklin rattled the post in the aftermath of another flag kick.

Going forward, Eastbourne’s physical strikeforce got little change out of the Town defence and while they had some half-decent spells, especially towards the end of the first half, they created little in the way of chances.

Basingstoke rewarded for patience

Town made two changes at the break, with Andrew Jenkinson and Manny Williams coming on in place of Jamie Brown and Macklin.

The pattern of the game remained the same, with Town probing but struggling to break through, but things could have been very different were it not for a fantastic save from goalkeeper Stuart Moore.

The visitors looked set to take the lead, but Moore made a fantastic block. Had Eastbourne gone in front, it may well have turned into a deeply frustrating afternoon for the hosts, giving their opponents something to defend.

As it was, more chances came and went for the hosts. The best one fell to Flood after a fantastic through-ball from central defender Rob Dickie.

He seems to be enjoying playing as one of a back three most, with the formation giving him licence to carry the ball into midfield. He takes risks at times, but it’s a very useful attribute as he can commit opposition defenders, opening up space for other players.

Basingstoke finally managed to take a deserved lead after breaking the lines. Williams’ hold-up play was a feature of the second half and he dropped into the gap between the Eastbourne defence and midfield to pick up the ball before turning and playing in Shaun McAuley, who had got beyond him and took his chance well.

Having seen so many chances go begging, it would have been easy for Town heads to drop or for players to try and force things, but they stayed patient, doing the things that had got them the opportunities, and got their reward.

Eastbourne tried to respond after going behind and had the hosts on the back foot, but Town defended pretty well, reducing the visitors to shots from long range.


Town deserved to win the game on the balance of play, and it’s the sort of performance that they may well have to reproduce fairly often between now and the end of the season, especially at home.

Opposition teams will come to The Soccer AM Stadium aiming to stop Basingstoke playing out from the back before dropping deep as they move up the pitch.

It’s difficult to play against and patience is the key, but it’s been happening for much of the season, explaining the stark contrast between Town’s home and away records.

In terms of games won, drawn and lost, there is very little difference, but while Jason Bristow’s men have scored 26 goals in 11 away games, they have only found the net 12 times over the course of 10 home games.

It would be a surprise if Eastbourne played in the same way during this weekend’s return fixture in Sussex. They are likely to try and take charge of the game, which could leave more gaps for Town to exploit.