BY NICK WILSON
An early flurry of goals condemned Basingstoke to a narrow defeat at home to Chippenham as the league leaders scored twice in the opening 12 minutes, either side of an equaliser for the hosts.
It took just two minutes for the opening goal to arrive. It came from the right boot of midfielder Matt Smith after a free kick had been half cleared to him 30 yards out. He controlled the ball and finding himself with plenty of time, hit an angled drive across Alex Tokarczyk to draw first blood for his team.
Basingstoke hit back quickly though through Ashleigh Artwell. Dan Collier found enough space for himself to test Darren Chitty from range with a left footed strike and when the ball squirmed free of the keeper’s grasp, Artwell was first to it to finish off the rebound and draw Basingstoke level on seven minutes.
Parity was short lived though as Chippenham retook the lead. A long, bouncing clearance drew Tokarczyk outside his box to clear but he was beaten to it by the league’s leading goalscorer Andy Sandell who knocked the ball past him before slotting into the empty net for his 27th of the season.
Basingstoke had chances to equalise, Artwell was somehow denied a second just past the quarter of an hour mark as he slid in the meet Collier’s cross at the far post but Chitty blocked the shot at point blank range while Matt Partridge headed the ball against the post following Sam Deadfield’s corner. At the other end Chippenham were also left cursing their luck as Smith’s chip dropped against the woodwork with Tokarczyk beaten.
HALF TIME: 1-2
Down, but not out, Basingstoke set about finding an equaliser in the second half. Collier fizzed and shot from distance just over the crossbar but Chippenham still had their chances. A long ball caused confusion in the Basingstoke backline, allowing Sandell through. Fortunately for the home team Tokarczyk spread himself well to save the shot.
Terence van Cooten came on for his debut with 20 minutes to play and had to be alert after a loose backpass gifted the ball to Sandell in the six yard box. The striker dithered though and van Cooten was able to clear from on the line.
As the game entered the last 15 minutes, there was a big shout for a Basingstoke penalty when Aaron Jarvis was brought down as he ran through to get on the end of a pass in behind the visiting defence, the referee though disagreed and time eventually ran out and Basingstoke were consigned to defeat.