PITCHING IN ISTHMIAN LEAGUE
SOUTH CENTRAL DIVISION
SATURDAY 18th MARCH 2023
BASINGSTOKE TOWN 3 UXBRIDGE 2 (HT 3-0)
A trip to the current league leaders, on a run of fourteen consecutive wins, was always going to be tough day out for the Reds. However, on the balance of play they will be disappointed not to have returned to Honeycroft with something to show for their efforts. A perfect hat-trick, right foot, left foot and a header from home grown youngster Brody Peart, earning The ‘Stoke all three points. The Reds made four changes from the side that drew with Guernsey seven days earlier. Alan Hedley, David Sota and Henry Grad made way for Tyler Tobin, Sean McGuinness and Lewis Patrick, while Kensley Maloney replaced the suspended Eitel Goueth.
Uxbridge were soon into their stride and Aaron Minhas picked up a loose ball and drove into the box and had his effort on goal blocked for a corner. From the set piece the ball fell for Anthony Mendy whose goal-bound shot was also blocked. Tobin was slow to clear, as the home side broke away, and his clearance was charged down and took a touch off the Reds stopper for a corner. Basingstoke’s striker, Paul Hodges, had three attempts blocked in quick succession as the league leaders put the Uxbridge defence under pressure. Peart opened his account in the 14th minute with a 30-yard free kick. Tobin elected not to have a wall and was then caught wrong footed as Peart whipped the ball into the net. Straight from the re-start Mendy almost equalised for The Reds. His lob from the edge of the area was superbly tipped onto the underside of the cross-bar by the back-peddling Paul Strudley, the ball bouncing down inches from the line before being cleared. Uxbridge continued to try and restore parity with Andy O’Brien heading a Maloney free kick just wide of the upright. Both sides were playing some nice football on the Winklebury Sports Complex 3G pitch, which kept the 752 spectators thoroughly entertained all afternoon. The ‘Stoke’s top scorer, Bradley Wilson, broke clear just before the half-hour mark and Tobin got down well to push the marksmen’s strike round the post for a corner. Alex Witham forced Strudley into a full length save, with a well struck left-footed shot, as the game went from end to end. Basingstoke doubled their lead in the 36th minute as Michael Atkinson found space down the left and pulled the ball back for Peart to fire home with his left foot from six yards. Sixty seconds later it was 3-0. Wilson sent in an early cross and Peart stooped to head goalwards, the ball somehow squirming under Tobin and over the line. Both sides had ten goal attempts in a pulsating opening forty-five minutes, however, the home side turned around three goals to the good.
Maybe The ‘Stoke took their foot of the pedal, but credit must be given to the Reds for their dominate second half display. Mendy almost pulled a goal back in the 58th minute – his shot from the edge of the area taking a deflection off Marcus Johnson-Schuster’s out stretched leg – looping over Strudley and crashing against the crossbar. Undeterred by this near miss Uxbridge continued to come forward and forced a corner minutes later. Witham’s cross found Joe Jackson at the far-post and his header was pushed out by Strudley – Patrick reacted quickest and sent a well-struck volley into the back of the net. Mendy was causing the home defence problems, but the striker was unable to find the target, shooting wide on several occasions. Basingstoke looked dangerous on the break - Wilson and substitute Dandre Brown both shot over when well placed. With time running out Mendy found his shooting boots. Picking the ball up from Witham’s pass he moved the ball to the right and sent a 30 yarder into the bottom corner past the diving Strudley. A happy and celebrating home crowd suddenly became nervous and the tension could be felt all round the ground. Referee Oscar Whiting signalled there would be a minimum of five additional minutes to be added, although with two goals, four subs, an injury to Patrick and several long lectures from Whiting, five minutes seemed a little light. Four and half minutes into stoppage time the cheers ran out around the Winklebury ground as the full-time whistle sounded and Basingstoke extended their winning run to fifteen games. Full-time 3-2.
Although they conceded two soft goals in the first half, Uxbridge should be proud that they came close to ending Basingstoke’s winning run. The side pushing The ‘Stoke all the way for the one automatic promotion place, Walton & Hersham, are the visitors to Honeycroft on Saturday and a similar performance will hopefully reap its rewards. COYR…..
Uxbridge Line-up: Tobin, Andrew, Patrick, McGuinness, O’Brien, Jackson, Ireland, Minhas, Witham, Mendy, Maloney. Subs Used: Hedley for O’Brien, Bitmead for Ireland, Evans for McGuinness. Not Used: Sota.