BY NICK WILSON
Basingstoke secured an excellent result on Tuesday night, beating playoff chasing Merthyr Town 3-2 and gaining a measure of revenge after being beaten in Wales early in the season.
The hosts got the perfect start when Nana Owusu put them in front after just 3 minutes. Romone Rose was released into space on the right hand side and his low cross was turned into the net at the far post by Owusu, his 5th of the season.
The early goal was just what Basingstoke needed as they set up to defend deep at hit Merthyr on the counter. The tactics worked well early on as Sam Deadfield went desperately close to doubling the lead but his dipping effort came back off the post before he shot just wide from range.
Merthyr held the lion’s share of possession and made use of it on 24 minutes. A corner was lofted in from the left and Alex Tokarczyk lost it in a crowd of players, leaving Ryan Prosser to slam the ball into an empty net and bring Merthyr level.
Merthyr continued to control possession and sent plenty of crosses into the box but Basingstoke defended stoutly, limiting opportunities for the Martyrs to score while starting to look more dangerous on the attack. On the stroke of half time Basingstoke pulled ahead once again, thanks to a moment of individual brilliance from Romone Rose. The striker received a pass from Deadfield on the edge of the area and an excellent first touch set him up to blast a powerful strike into the top corner, leaving Merthyr goalie Glyn Garner with no chance and ensuring Basingstoke held the lead at the break.
HALF TIME: 2-1
Basingstoke came out in the second half looking for more of the same and got it within ten minutes. Matt Partridge worked the ball onto his right foot and from just outside the area, managed to sneak the ball past Garner and give the home team a two goal cushion that would prove vital.
Basingstoke were on top now and as the second half went on, Deadfield and Rose both tried their luck again, but to no avail. Something had to change for Merthyr and Gethin Jones, Ben Watkins and Corey Jenkins were all sent on with just under half an hour to go.
The changes soon had an effect as Merthyr got themselves back in it. Kayne McLaggon found himself with the ball at his feet inside the penalty area and turned smartly before beating Tokarczyk from close range to make it 3-2.
This was the cue for Merthyr to start to turn the screw as the put the Basingstoke defence under more and more pressure for the final 20 minutes but left themselves exposed at the back. Nana Owusu was a useful outlet for the hosts and almost sealed the game with 5 minutes to play but he turned Aaron Redford’s cross wide.
Merthyr had chances to equalise but Basingstoke managed to repel the Welsh attacks to claim a big victory.
FULL TIME: 3-2
Basingstoke Team: Tokarczyk; Johnson-Schuster, Gater, Ray, R Atkinson; Partridge, Kennedy; M Atkinson, Deadfield, Owusu; Rose. Subs: Hallahan, Greene, Redford, Bennett, Whittingham
Merthyr Team: Garner; Tancock, Wright, McDonald, Barrow; Evans, Richards; Traylor, Reffell, McLaggon; Prosser. Subs: Jones, Davies, Williams, Watkins, Jenkins.