The TT Match Verdict: Basingstoke Town 1 – 1 TUFC (Torquay win 5-3 on penalties)

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Jonathan Jones – @jonny__jones

Match Summary:

Well, it wasn’t pretty, but United progressed through to the first round proper of the FA Trophy at the expense of Basingstoke (BS) Town, on a cold and damp afternoon in Hampshire.

First things first. We were poor, the worst performance of Gary Johnson’s reign so far. We couldn’t keep the ball, kept going long and struggled to get our foot in. You name it, we just weren’t at it.

I was surprised at how well BS started the game, they were first to every 50:50 ball and looked a threat going forward. On 9 minutes, Sam Smart was played through (for the second time) and poked the ball passed the onrushing Macdonald, who brought him down. Clear penalty, and it was calmly tucked into the corner by Stow.

Just as I was tweeting out the opening goal, United got an instant leveller in the best move of the match. Excellent work by Janneh on the right hand side fed Reid, who slotted home first-time with his left foot.

I expected us to kick-on from there, however, the game developed into a scrappy affair on a bumpy surface, with chances for both sides. Reid missed a decent chance at the back post from an Andrews freekick. Janneh was played through by CLE but couldn’t find a finish as the ball bobbled from under his boot.

BS then went close on two occasions, striking the post from a cross-come-shot, and forcing Macdonald into an excellent save from a free kick. 1-1 at half-time.

The second half was a scrappy as the first but United had the better chances. Two substitutes, Opi Edwards and Brett Williams combined twice, only for Opi to smash into the side netting and the car park, respectively. Late on, Williams had a header sensationally saved by McAdden, before Reid wasted a golden chance. United couldn’t find a winner and into extra time we went.

We did turn the screw, Reid and Williams had efforts cleared off the line, Andrews and Reid had shots tipped onto the post, however by this point Yellow Army knew penalties were on the cards.

It was a weird experience watching us in a penalty shoot-out; can’t say I enjoyed it! Reidy, CLE, Davis and Brett all dispatched their penalties with confidence. BS did likewise, until Mitchell Parker spooned it over, leaving Andrews with the chance to send us through. He’d had a bit of stinker, truth be told, but tucked it away nicely to win the tie and avoid any humiliation this time around at the Camrose.

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Player Ratings:

MacDonald: 7 – Solid and made a very good save from a Smart freekick. Gave away penalty but couldn’t really do much about it. Distribution could’ve been better. 7, due to the freekick save.

Wynter: 6 – Caught out defensively early on and didn’t offer enough going forward.

Niate: 6 – Carved open a couple of times in the opening 10 minutes, fairly solid for the remainder.

Cameron: 6 – As above for Niate!

Davis: 6 – Class on the ball but possession retention was sloppy. Sound at the back.

Keating: 5 – Worked as hard as ever, however, lacked any real threat on the right-hand side.

Lemonheigh-Evans: 7 – Very good, worked hard, kept the ball, made things happen.

Andrews: 6 – Off day for the lad, quiet and delivery from dead balls poor. Did score the winning spot kick, which stops a 5 rating.

Kalala: 5 – Some nice touches but didn’t offer enough today, subbed off at HT.

Reid: 7 – Lovely finish, a constant threat going forward. Did spurn some very good opportunities to win the game.

Janneh: 6 – Pace and power, set up Reid in the best move of the game. Like many United players today, couldn’t get a foothold in the match.

Subs:

Edwards: 6 – Such a threat, offered more than Kalala on the right. Lack of end product today. Unfortunately, subbed off in ET (injury?).

Williams: 6 – Did well in my opinion. Had a header saved from 6 yards, no idea how it stayed out

Nabi: N/A.

Man of the Match:

Tough one this, not too many candidates today! Reidy shades it over CLE. Lovely finish for the goal, he never stopped running and get kept getting into dangerous positions. On a different day he could’ve had a hat-trick. And we played poorly…

Honourable Mentions:

Lemonhaigh-Evans was the pick of midfield, kept the ball the best, mopped up any trouble and seems to glide past players.

Basingstoke’s Sam Smart was arguably the best player on the pitch until he was subbed off late on. Can’t ignore that in this review.

Tactics:

Archetypal 4-4-2. Reid and Janneh leading the line, two wingers offering width. Just nowhere near as effective as in previous weeks.

The Opposition:

For a team in the lower reaches of the Evo Stick South Premier, Basingstoke put in a decent performance. If you didn’t know any better, they’d have passed as a NLS side today. United did start to show their superiority in the last 20 minutes of normal time, however BS always posed a threat on the break.

The Referee:

As with many officials at this level, Wayne Cartmell had an inconsistent game. He gave some very soft freekicks but would fail to pull-up heavy lunges. Stopped United counterattacking due to a Basingstoke player being injured (not a head injury), which didn’t go down well with the travelling Gulls. He did get the penalty decision correct.

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Key Moment:

Basingstoke’s penalty miss. It was looking the shootout was going the way of the preceding 120 minutes, with neither side able to pull away. Mitchell Parker stepped up as the fourth taker but blazed it over McDonald’s crossbar, thanks very much!

Player Spotlight:

Brett Williams. On for Keating at 66 minutes, Brett had an hour of the game to show GJ what he’s made of, so how did he get on? Well, you’ve probably already seen that I gave him a 6 rating and it would’ve been 7 if his header had gone in. Looked like a wonder save from the end of the ground I was stood in. He played Opi through on two occasions and scored from the spot. It’s tough as Reid and Janneh are looking like a very decent partnership at this level. However, he’s definitely got quality to give this season. I’d like to see him given a chance if things aren’t working out.

Conclusion:

Heading to the ground I just didn’t have the same buzz I get going to a league game. However, the longer it went at 1-1, the more their Stone Island-wearing-Green Street wannabes sensed an upset was on the cards. It felt really good walkaway knowing we were in the hat for the next round. I know this season is all about the promotion push, but a cup is a cup. We should be aiming to win it, why not? It could be fun.

Next Up:

NLS – Dulwich Hamlet (A) 1st December – 15:00 KO

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