BY NICK WILSON
Basingstokesaw their FA Trophy run come to an end in the West Country as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to National League South side, Bath City. As in previous rounds Basingstoke named a strong side with just one change from the win a week earlier against Stratford.
It was a cagey start to the game, Basingstoke kept the ball well and looked confident in possession, Sam Deadfield pulling the strings in midfield, while Bath looked to utilise the size and strength of Marvin Morgan up front. Nana Owusu was a constant threat on the left for Basingstoke, beating his opponent George Rigg time and time again while testing goalkeeper Max O’Leary with a fierce strike across goal.
At the other end Nick McCootie scuffed a volley wide before early substitute Shaquille Hunter hit the post with his first touch but Bath were soon in front. Joe Gater was adjudged to have been too forceful in winning a header in the box and Tyler Harvey stepped up to send Alex Tokarczyk the wrong way from the spot on 32 minutes.
For all their possession, Basingstoke had struggled to really test O’Leary and the goal seemed to deflate them as they struggled to create further opportunities, with just a powerful drive from Owusu palmed away by the hosts goalkeeper.
HALF TIME: 1-0
Basingstoke looked to start the second half strongly and with 45 minutes to get themselves back into the game they focused on keeping possession and gently probing. They were dealt a killer blow though, as Bath won the ball back and Harvey was released in behind the Basingstoke defence to finish well across Tokarczyk just 3 minutes after the break. It looked to be an uphill task for Basingstoke for the rest of the match with Romans’ central defensive duo of Jack Batten and debutant Axel Andresson looking solid at the back.
Basingstoke continued to enjoy the majority of possession and kept looking for a way through the Bath defence but to no avail. Nick McCootie was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch when, after being booked, he sent Rob Atkinson sprawling but escaped a second card.
Aaron Redford shot across goal and with the last kick of the game a neat one-two got Deadfield into a shooting position but his shot was blocked at close range by O’Leary. There was no time left though and the referee’s whistle sounded, consigning Basingstoke to an FA Trophy exit.