Alresford Town 2 Bashley 1
This much-anticipated game involving the top two in the recent form-table was played out on wind-exposed Arlebury Park; conditions that favoured long ball over-controlled build-up.
Bashley, without leading scorer Harry McGrath, were first into their stride forcing two early corners and could have opened the scoring when a shot from Harry Bunce, following a determined solo run from midfield, was blocked in the box.
Alresford responded immediately and an Ollie Dennett free-kick from the edge of the area, the result of a Lewis Ross sliding tackle that took man as well as ball, found keeper Dan Kempson on top form.
Moments later, both were in action again when Kempson was out quickly to thwart Dennett’s attempted strike at goal.
Bash pressed hard before halftime and should have taken the lead when Conor Whiteley and Bunce, after collaborating on poor Magpie clearance, ran unchallenged in parallel formation toward the unguarded goal; Bunce instead of shooting, passed with polite consideration to Whiteley, who by now unbalanced, scuffed wide from three yards.
Bashley opened the second half with Bunce and Whiteley once more in the thick of it, but despite goal-area action Magpie keeper, Matt Fredericks remained untroubled. Alresford responded quickly with Dennett once more in on the action: taking advantage of a poor goal clearance his strike at goal was nullified in ‘half kick’ thanks to a last-minute tackle by the flying Dan Thompson.
Not a man to give up, Dennett later made ground down the left and pulled back the ball to Craig McAllister who, lurking unmarked in front of goal, eagerly accepted this gift to open the scoring after 56 minutes.
Seven minutes later and the home team scored a second. It was a goal the unfortunate Kempson will want to forget. A shot from the right by Duarte Martins, destined to miss the near post, was collected by the diving Kempson who on hitting the floor somehow managed to knock the ball back into the goalmouth leaving the ever-present Dennett to tap in.
Bashley fought back and were rewarded when young Taylor Edwards, hot off the bench, broke down the right and after some interplay the ball ran loose in the area and was hooked with some venom into the far corner by Whiteley.
Not to be outdone, his fellow tormentor Bunce then scored when meeting a high cross from the right. Unfortunately for Bashley he met the ball with his raised hand instead of his head and not being a Maradona added a yellow card and not a goal to his match CV.
The game ended in controversy when a goal-bound shot was handled on the Alresford goal line. After consulting the linesman, the referee, much to the displeasure of Bashley and their dedicated following, decided it was accidental.
Bashley: Kempson, Smith, Thompson, Strickland, Webber, Morris, Ross, Morgan, Aimson, Bunce, Whiteley
Used Sub: Taylor
Photo: Bash Scorer Conor Whiteley