Bashley 3 AFC Stoneham 2
Bashley, without the injured Jason Collins and Morgan Browning, gave first team starts to goalkeeper Harry Gravett and Centre Back Matt Crowe with the last season’s top scorer Dan Munday, now residing in the Midlands, making a surprise first appearance on the bench.
The opening minutes were scrappy with both teams lacking purpose; this all changed in the thirtieth minute when a forward movement by Bashley came to a full stop with the ball loose in the box when, as if teleported, midfielder Lewis Ross strode through a hesitant Stoneham defence and netted confidently from 14 yards.
The game eventually took shape, Bashley concentrated on feeding the forward runs of Harry McGrath and Conor Whiteley assisted by the darting moves of Harry Bunce whilst the height and strength of the Purple’s forwards kept the Bash defence on their toes.
Bunce was just a boot short of connecting with a McGrath cross whilst a well worked move from the Stoneham forwards collapsed at the sight of an open goal. Bashley increased their lead just before halftime when a fine flowing move involving Ross, Whiteley and McGrath caused havoc in the Stoneham box: a situation exploited by Bunce who triumphantly lashed home McGrath’s deflected shot.
Stoneham came back immediately, and it took a brave, near post save by Gravett, to keep Bash’s two goal lead intact. The visitors piled on the pressure as the half started and it took another fine reaction save from Gravett to keep the slate clean. Ten minutes later Stoneham pulled one back – an attack launched from a defensive position sliced through a back peddling Bashley defence leaving frontman Callum Laycock free to score.
Bashley dug in to protect their now narrow lead and made changes with Tom Betts coming on to stiffen the defence whilst Dan Munday was asked to pull on his boots for the first time this season. It was however Ross who re-established a two goal cushion the result of a crowd-pleasing move that saw McGrath break down the left and find Bunce who instead of shooting from an acute angle passed clinically into the projected path of the in-rushing Ross whose perfect run and timing sent the ball fizzing past a startled Parker-Trott.
Stoneham, to their credit fought on: Gravett was forced into another point blank save and then, to add sauce to the tension, the visitors scored from the spot via a Chris Manning late penalty. Dan Munday’s fifteen-minute return was robbed of legend status when his final-minute high spinning shot was fingered out of the far top corner of the net by a flying Parker-Trott. A heart-warming game.
Bashley: Garvett, Crowe, Webber, Morris, Strickland, Thompson, Bunce, Ross, Whiteley, Morgan, McGrath
Used Subs: Betts, Munday, Cooper
Photo: Two goal Lewis Ross