BASINGSTOKE Town were second best in both penalty areas as Wealdstone went away from The Soccer AM Stadium with a 4-2 win on Saturday.

The hosts created chances throughout the game, but they were unable to provide the finishing touch to some decent moves. At the other end, they defended poorly, with at least three of the four goals they conceded falling into the soft category.


Town stuck with the diamond formation they had utilised during the previous week’s win at Whitehawk, making just one enforced change. Rob Dickie’s loan spell came to an end when he was called up to play for England Under-19s, so Jay Gasson was brought in to the heart of the defence.

Wealdstone played a 4-2-3-1 system, with experienced striker Jefferson Louis spearheading the attack, supported by wingers Luke O’Nien and Shaun Lucien, as well as number 10 Matthew Ball.

Wealdstone press intelligently

Basingstoke made a bright start, putting the visitors under pressure for the first 10 minutes, but once the game settled down, Wealdstone did pretty well tactically.

In the early stages, they looked to press Town high up the pitch, making it hard for their defenders to play out from the back. This involved playing a pretty high defensive line, which the hosts went close to exploiting a couple of times, but in general, Town’s passing rhythm was disrupted by Wealdstone’s tactics.

From an attacking standpoint, they had two distinct approaches. They had the option of going fairly direct, playing long passes up to Louis to get attacks started, but they played completely differently on the counter attack, passing the ball well to build attacks.

Four of the six goals scored during the game came during a pretty mad 10-minute period, during which neither side really had control of the game. The tempo was incredibly high and the game very open during this spell, during which both teams had three chances.

Wealdstone, aided by some slack defending, scored all three of theirs, while Town could only find the net once, leaving them with a mountain to climb.

Having built up a two-goal cushion, Wealdstone changed tack. Instead of pressing high up the pitch, they sat a bit deeper, got men behind the ball, allowed Town to have possession in their own half and made themselves hard to break down.

Their earlier pressing seemed to have had an effect though. Basingstoke struggled to move the ball as well as normal, lacking fluency in their passing, but they still did enough to create clear chances for Liam Enver-Marum and Jay Gasson, but neither was taken.

Town made three changes during the game, with Simon Dunn making the biggest impact. He kept the ball better than any of Town’s other attack-minded midfielders and also had a decent chance to reduce the deficit, but he was also unable to find the net.

Tom Bird was Town’s main attacking outlet and it was from one of his forays down the left that the hosts managed to pull a goal back, Lloyd Macklin finding a smart finish.

This should have been the signal for a late barrage on the Wealdstone goal, but Basingstoke’s hard work was almost immediately undone as the visitors scored a soft fourth goal just one minute later.

Poor defending lets Basingstoke down

Town will probably look back on the game and consider that all four goals could have been prevented. Looking at the video highlights supplied by Wealdstone on YouTube, it would be hard to disagree.

The first goal is at 3:50. As the ball goes into the area, David Ray can be seen rushing to jump with Daniel Brown, who has been allowed to run into the box unmarked by somebody else.

Brown’s header was saved by Stuart Moore, but the goalkeeper could only parry the ball into the danger area, where Wes Parker, the player Ray was detailed to mark, was left with time and space to bury the rebound.

The build-up to the second goal begins at about 6:18, when Chris Flood is muscled off the ball in the attacking half. Wealdstone break and again Ray is dragged out of position, this time by Ball, who takes the ball out to the left. Robbie Rice has to track the run of O’Nien, who goes inside, so Ray is unable to pass on the responsibility.

At that point, it’s not going too badly, but then left-back Ryan Watts appears on the overlap, with nobody tracking him. This would probably have been the responsibility of Shaun McAuley, but he only just makes it into the frame before Watts crosses unopposed.

When the cross arrives at the back post, both Gasson and Bird are in the vicinity, but neither really competes for the ball with Louis, who heads down for O’Nien. He has got a run on Rice and slots home.

The build-up to the third goal begins at 7:25. It’s pretty simple, with O’Nien playing the ball into the feet of Louis, who is too strong and too quick for Gasson. It’s a really good turn, run and finish from a quality player, but Gasson will probably feel he should have done better.

The fourth goal can be seen at 16:00. A corner is delivered to the near post and there really shouldn’t be any danger as there are six Town defenders and goalkeeper Moore covering just three Wealdstone attackers.

Gasson, Rice and Ray all have men to mark, Bird is on the far post, Dunn is in front of the near post and Flood is in there to pick up any loose balls.

Dunn’s role is normally carried out by Louie Soares, who is pretty effective in that position. Dunn misjudges the flight of the ball, which skims off the top of his head and drops for Thomas Hamblin. Ray was in a decent position, but Hamblin reacted better and is able to scramble the ball home from close range.

It’s a bit of a horrowshow to be honest, and very much out of character with the way Town have been defending this season. They were especially good a week earlier at Whitehawk, which makes it harder to explain.

Of course, it’s easy to look at the performance of Gasson and wonder whether things would have been different had Dickie been available.

However, I suspect Jason Bristow may have opted not to play the youngster up against Louis, preferring the relative experience of Gasson.

That would have been an understandable decision, but on the day, Gasson simply couldn’t handle the experienced striker and looked well short of match sharpness after three months out.


I kept a note of the number of shots each side had in this game – and it makes for pretty interesting reading.

By my reckoning, Basingstoke had nine shots on target, two of which resulted in goals, with a further seven missing the target. Wealdstone had just six shots on goal, scoring four, and only missed the target with one effort.

That’s a shot count of 16 to seven in favour of the home side, which shows that while bad defending was one cause of this defeat, some wayward finishing also played a part.

Town were not at their best, but they were not battered by any means, and some of the comments I have seen on social media in the wake of the defeat have been way overboard.

I was especially confused by the criticism of Moore. Take a look at the goals on the video. Maybe he could have done more to prevent the first goal, possibly pushing the ball away from danger, but there was very little he could do to stop any of the others.

It was lacklustre defending and poor finishing, not bad goalkeeping, that cost Basingstoke this game.

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