Basingstoke return to the Ark Cancer Charity Stadium for the penultimate home game of the season to take on already relegated Cinderford Town. Cinderford were promoted into the Evo-Stik Southern Premier after winning promotion last season by finishing top of the Southern League Division 1 South & West. Things have been tougher going this season for the Gloucestershire club though, currently lying bottom of the league with a total of 24 points and just 4 of those points being won away from home in their 21 matches.
The previous meeting between the two teams back in August resulted in a 3-2 win for Basingstoke, twice coming from behind to earn the points at the Causeway Ground thanks to goals from Rob Atkinson, Dan Collier and Sam Deadfield. It was Basingstoke’s second win of the season.
Cinderford will make the journey down to Hampshire looking for just their second win away from home all season and will look to end a run of nine defeats in the last ten games, including each of their last six. This recent run includes two 1-0 losses to fellow strugglers Cambridge City and a 5-0 defeat to Hayes & Yeading United. Defeat on Tuesday night to Cambridge saw them into triple figures in the goals conceded column.
Basingstoke will be looking to continue a run of form which has seen them accumulate 7 points in the last three games as they push to secure a top half finish for the season. After being left shorthanded, particularly in the forward areas due to injury last weekend Terry Brown has more to choose from as Aaron Redford, Nana Owusu and Ashleigh Artwell all return to contention. Defender Mark Hastings is the only player ruled out.
BY NICK WILSON
Basingstoke ran out comfortable winners against bottom club Cinderford Town by three goals to nil, aided by the first half dismissal of midfielder Sammie Hicks.
It was an end to end start as Cinderford forced the first corner of the match within sixty seconds but Basingstoke broke out and forced their own corner at the other end. After 8 minutes Basingstoke were given the perfect chance to strike early as Aaron Redford was bundled over just inside the box by Cinderford captain Josh Nelmes. Nana Owusu stepped up to clip the ball into the roof of the net and give his team an early lead.
Basingstoke controlled possession but Cinderford made it tough for them, pressing high then dropping back to defend in numbers when Basingstoke got past the halfway line. They also tested Kieran Greene on a couple of occasions. First, Lewis Bamford struck a fierce shot from the edge of the area that Greene did well to hold before Hicks tried his luck from range only to find Greene equal to his effort, pushing the shot wide with two hands.
At the other end, Owusu showed quick feet to cut inside but drove his shot into the side netting and the visitors replied with James Bloom heading a good cross just wide. Disaster struck for Cinderford on the stroke of half time when Hicks was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Rob Atkinson, forcing his team to play the second half a man down.
HALF TIME: 1-0
The second half was one way traffic as the away side struggled to muster a response. Basingstoke again controlled possession of the ball and Greene was almost a spectator, although showed good alertness to race off his line and stave off one dangerous looking Cinderford attack.
As the visitors began to tire, chances flowed for Basingstoke. Michael Atkinson was fed the ball in the box but after taking one touch, fired over from fifteen yards and captain David Ray saw a header bounce up and hit the crossbar following a corner. Owusu also hit the side netting again with a low strike.
The second goal eventually arrived with twenty minutes to play as Aaron Redford and Terence van Cooten combined to pick out Matt Partridge inside the box and he slotted home his third goal in the last four games. It was 3-0 seven minutes later as Aaron Jarvis came on to add his name to the scoresheet. Aaron Redford won the ball in the Cinderford half and produced an excellent ball beyond Dan Clare to release Jarvis who took a touch to control the ball before firing it into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box.
There was still time for Owusu to curl a long range effort against the bar but the assistant’s flag denied Jarvis as he bundled the rebound into the net after coming from an offside position and Basingstoke ended up settling for three.
FULL TIME: 3-0