By Nick Wilson.
An inexperienced Basingstoke fought to a roller-coaster victory, at Southern League Division 1 Central side Petersfield in the Southern League Cup, as eight players made their first starts for the first team. The experimental side did well though and secured their place in the next round, despite falling behind early and being pegged back by a second half penalty.
It was Petersfield striker Callum Coker who got the early opener just five minutes into the game. A free kick was half cleared and, as Alex Milroy fired the rebound through the box, it was deflected up in the air to the far post where Coker was waiting to loop a header into the net.
Basingstoke reacted well and pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Aaron Jarvis was a handful up front and caused problems for the Petersfield back-line. The equaliser was scored on 18 minutes by George Hallahan, his 7th of the season. Ethan Chislett lifted a neat pass in behind and Hallahan got on the end of it before firing the ball low past the Petersfield goalkeeper, George Hill.
Both sides threatened through the rest of the first half, Petersfield looking dangerous with a number of set pieces while the Basingstoke front-line of Hallahan, Jarvis and new signing Adam Francis caused problems at the other end.
Half Time: 1-1
Basingstoke started the second half quickly, taking the lead within ten minutes. It was one of the debutantes Adam Francis who finished off an incisive passing move by slotting a low cross into the back of the net. After Jarvis, Chislett and James Batchelor had combined to pick apart the home defence.
Basingstoke continued to look more assured and comfortable in the second half but were dealt a blow when McAulie Stubbs was penalised for a challenge inside the box. Dan Simmonds stepped up and scored the penalty, despite Basingstoke’s Kieran Greene guessing the right way.
The joy was short lived for Petersfield though as just two minutes later, Basingstoke were back in front. Hallahan whipped in an in-swinging corner, which found defender Harry Brown at the far post. He controlled the ball and slid it through a crowd of players to reply immediately and give Basingstoke their second lead of the night.
After the third goal Basingstoke managed to keep control of the game, holding Petersfield at arms length but as time ticked away and the home side pressed to try and force penalties, chances came. Substitute Jordan Neal fashioned a great chance inside the area before blazing high over the bar and in the last minute Simmonds got free but contrived to hook the ball over the crossbar. Basingstoke survived these late scares though and saw themselves through to the second round.