BASINGSTOKE Town’s hopes of winning the Vanarama Conference South are all but over after they conceded a last-minute goal to lose away at mid-table Sutton United on Saturday.

Visiting goalkeeper Stuart Moore was at fault for both Sutton goals. His parry from Glen Southam’s free-kick hit the back of Jamie Collins and rebounded into the net as the hosts took the lead with 18 minutes on the clock, and the ’keeper then spilt a corner to allow Shaun Cooper to head home the winner late on.

Town struggled to find any rhythm throughout the game, but they did pull level just before half-time, Liam Enver-Marum firing home from the penalty spot.

However, they were unable to push on and win the match after the break and the defeat leaves them five points behind leaders Bromley, who have a superior goal-difference, with just two games to play.

Basingstoke manager Jason Bristow made three changes to the side that had beaten Farnborough five days earlier, with Jay Gasson, James Harper and Louie Soares coming into the side as they switched to a 3-5-2 formation.

It was the visitors who had the first shot at goal after four minutes, with good work from Chris Flood and Simon Dunn giving Tom Bird the chance to fire in an angled drive, but it was a comfortable save for Sutton goalkeeper Aaron Howe.

Louis Theophanous fired two shots from the edge of the area off target as the hosts began to get on top, while they were unfortunate that nobody was on hand to convert when a low centre zipped across the Town six-yard box.

Sutton, who went into the game having scored just once in their previous six games, took the lead on 18 minutes. A foul by Rob Dickie gave them a free-kick in a dangerous area and Glen Southam put a good ball into the box.

Jamie Collins got in front of Moore and while the defender failed to make contact, the ’keeper could only parry the ball against his back, with the ricochet taking it just inside the far post.

Having got in front, Sutton’s tails were up and they were able to pin Town back in their own half. They created chances, with Micky Spillane and Craig Dundas both going close, but the visitors defended stoutly to prevent them testing Moore, while the hosts’ finishing and final ball were both lacking at times.

Against the run of play, Town pulled themselves level four minutes before half-time. Dunn, a bright spark for Town throughout the first half, burst into the area and nicked the ball away from Cooper, who caught him late.

Referee Derek Eaton had no option but to point to the penalty spot and Enver-Marum fired home emphatically from 12 yards to make it 1-1.

Moore was called into action again right at the end of the half, parrying away Theophanous’ shot from distance. He should have held on, but the loose ball didn’t drop for a home player and the scores remained level at the break.

The hosts went close again early in the second half. Dan Wishart’s low centre caused havoc in the Town area and while Theophanous’ shot was blocked, the loose ball broke to Dundas. It looked a certain goal, but Bird was on hand to clear it off the line with his shoulder, Sutton’s claims for handball falling on deaf ears.

More Sutton pressure followed, with the visitors getting bodies in the way to prevent shots getting through, while Theophanous shot narrowly wide at the near post and Collins headed wide.

A rare Town break resulted in Bird attempting to lob Howe, but the goalkeeper was able to catch the ball, while, at the other end, Dale Binns and Wishart put angled drives wide of the far post.

The visitors nearly nicked all three points in the first of three minutes’ added time. Dickie did well to beat a couple of men before playing Macklin in.

His effort was snuffed out and while the rebound dropped to Dickie, he too was denied by a desperate block.

That proved to be a massive moment in the game as Sutton went up the other end and bagged the winner. Again, it was a Southam set-piece that caused problems. Moore came off his line to claim a corner but allowed the ball to slip between his hands, giving Cooper the chance to nod into an empty net.

Watch a post-match interview with Basingstoke Town manager Jason Bristow by clicking here


Stuart Moore – 4 (out of 10)

A bit unfortunate with the opening goal, which he must have seen late, but will surely feel he could have done better with. That seemed to shake his confidence and he was not his usual self throughout the game, culminating in the mistake that gave Sutton all three points.

Nathan Smart – 6

Slipped over at several crucial moments. Most of Sutton’s attacks came down Town’s right flank.

Tom Bird – 7

Always keen to get forward and pretty good defensively. In the right place at the right time to make what could have been a crucial block on the line.

Rob Dickie – 6

Caused some problems running the ball out of defence, but also gave the ball away too often. Conceded a couple of silly free-kicks in the first half, one of which led to the opening goal.

Jay Gasson – 6

Still looks a bit rusty, especially with the ball at his feet. Sent a couple of clearances straight up into the air.

David Ray – 7

A solid game at the heart of the Town defence, using his positional sense to snuff out danger.

Louie Soares – 7

Neat and tidy on the ball throughout, without doing anything spectacular.

Simon Dunn – 7 (Gazette Star Man)

Comfortably Town’s best player in the first half, showing some nice touches and winning the penalty. Not quite as good after the break.

Liam Enver-Marum – 7

Starved of decent service, but slotted the penalty away really well.

Chris Flood – 6

Very few opportunities to show what he could do. Spent most of the game tracking back to help out the midfield.

James Harper – 7

A calm figure just in front of the back four. Got caught in front of the ball a couple of times, but made some good blocks and challenges.


Lloyd Macklin (for Enver-Marum 67min) – 6

Very few opportunities to test the Sutton defence.

Jamie Brown (for Soares 67min) – 6

Brought on to give the midfield a bit more of a physical presence.

Subs (not used): Williams, Jenkinson, McAuley

Sutton United: Howe, Amankwaah, Wishart, Spillane (sub Forbes 69min), Cooper, Collins, Scannell, Southam, Dundas (sub Fitchett 69min), Gomis, Theophanous (sub Binns 79min)

Subs (not used): Wellard, Shaw

Attendance: 495

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