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Basingstoke Town 2-1 Kingstonian

The Camrose Ground

Bill Williams' first away trip in the Ryman League ended in controversy, when all should have been settled long before Simon Stewart was shown a red card with five minutes to go, as K's desperately tried to come back from two-one down.

After the disappointment of losing their first game of the season - one-nil at home to Gravesend - the team was re-shuffled ever so slightly, with James Pinnock coming in to make his debut in place of Mark Boyce, but other than that it was left to those who started the season to try and get it back on track.

The early signs were good as K's went close before the first minute was up - David Sadler flicked the ball through to Steve Brown, but his left footed shot was blocked well by defender Chris Honor. Sadler then combined well with skipper Dave Clarke to present Danny Bolt with an opportunity on the edge of the box. Unfortunately for him, he only managed to step on the ball when just one defender stood between himself and the goal.

The pressure from the away side continued as the half wore on, with Brown and Sadler again showing how good their relationship could become. This time it was the latter who had the chance to shoot, but his effort from twelve yards was straight at goalkeeper Scott Tarr when a shot either side would surely have opened the scoring.

Basingstoke, following on from an opening day win at Hitchin, weren't out of the game by any means though, and they had their own chances - most notably when Dominic Naylor crossed from the right. The ball was heading for Tim Sills, but Max Hustwick just managed to get there first, lifting the ball over his own bar from six yards out.

The travelling masses

With half an hour of the first period up, K's came ever closer to scoring. A fine move ended with Colin Luckett playing in Brown on the left, and his cross fell perfectly for Sadler at the far post. The centre forward did everything right by heading the ball down and back past the goalkeeper, but he got it ever so slightly wrong as the ball bounced down and back up onto the Stoke crossbar.

Sadler had the chance to atone for his misjudgement just five minutes later, but his unlucky spell in front of goal continued as his right foot shot was well saved by Tarr low down to his left. Glenn Howes went close for the home side after a twenty yard run before the deadlock was finally broken.

Luckett played a fine cross-field ball to Sadler on the right, he did well to beat his man in the corner and deliver a cross to Brown. Defender Honor competed, Brown fell and the referee pointed to the spot. The Kingstonian players weren't going to look a gift-horse in the mouth, and so once Honor had been cautioned - and once Danny Bolt had stolen the ball off of Colin Luckett - Bolt strode forward to plant the penalty the wrong side of Tarr to give K's the lead.

There were claims for a penalty for the home side just before the break, but the referee quite rightly ignored them. Yet he wasn't quite so lenient in the second period. With just ten minutes of the half gone a ball was played down the Basingstoke right into the K's area and Peter Barnsby challenged Tim Sills. Both players fell, there were muted appeals and once again the referee pointed to the spot. Simon Stewart - who had been cautioned just moments before - seemed mightily upset with the decision, but there was no reprieve. Richard Newbery stepped up, sent Lance Key the wrong way and the scores were levelled.

What's going on?  It's too far away

For some time after the goal it was the home side who looked the better, with Dominic Naylor going close with a left footed drive from twenty yards following a horrible piece of Dave Clarke "control". And then on seventy minutes disaster for K's. The ball was crossed from the Basingstoke left, Simon Stewart jumped with Tim Sills, neither got a telling touch, but Rob Cook did as he swept the ball in from two yards out.

This led to changes for Kingstonian - with Sammy Winston and Billy Mead replacing James Pinnock and Steve Brown. Winston showed that he still has an appetite for this league, and he combined well with Max Hustwick on the right, who crossed for Sadler. But again the centre forward got it all wrong. His first touch was fine, settling the ball in front of him, but his second was woeful as he scuffed his shot horribly, with Tarr gratefully falling on the ball. Yet his best chance was still to come.

Steve McKimm played a ball from the half way line and Sadler sprinted on to it. As he looked up he realised that he had almost the entire Basingstoke half of the field to run into, but despite the time he had, he never really got the ball under control. The result was once again a poor effort straight at the waiting Tarr and the frustration intensified.

Where's the ref?  Boooooo

Yet the real controversy was still to come. K's won a late corner on the right, which Bolt swung in. Barnsby got a toe to the ball and as it ran into the goalkeeper's arms he spilled it. There waiting to pounce was Simon Stewart, and he quite rightly challenged for the ball as Tarr fell on it. Stewart probably left his foot in for too long, but that was still a poor excuse for three or four Basingstoke players to start pushing him.

As the pushing continued more players joined in the melee and all of a sudden we had the ridiculous spectacle of a 21 man brawl - Lance Key being the sole innocent observer. As the confrontation got worse, players from both sides piled in, pushes were pushed, punches were thrown and threats were made. As the brawl happened right in front of the Kingstonian fans it was clear to most of the travellers that Don Forbes threw a punch, whilst Colin Luckett also got a bit too "heated".

When the situation was finally calmed down, and after the referee had spoken to his linesman, Simon Stewart was the player called over. He was shown a red card, whilst amazingly no other players were even spoken to. Stewart may well have started the trouble, but it is difficult to see how one player can be singled out of a group of 21 when so many deserved a similar fate.

The game ended not long after, with boos for the referee ringing in the ears. Yet the late controversy shouldn't be allowed to detract from the real problems of the night. If K's had had a centre forward capable of putting away some of the five or six decent chances created, there would have been no late pressure. Two defeats is a worrying start for K's. Still, let's look on the bright side: only one team gets relegated this year.

Tue 21st Aug 2001
The Camrose Ground
Isthmian League Premier
Basingstoke Town2
Bolt (pen)
1Lance Key
2Dave Clarke
3Colin Luckett
4Peter Barnsby
5Simon StewartCautioned and Sent Off
6Steve McKimm
7Danny Bolt
8Max Hustwick
9Steve Brown15
10James Pinnock12
11David Sadler14
12Sammy Winston10
14Eddie Saunders11
15Billy Mead9
Man of the Match
Simon Stewart
Simon Stewart
Match Report By
Gary Ekins