Now you See Us, now you Don’t

AFC Stoneham 0 Bashley 1 (Match abandoned after 45 minutes)
Wessex Premier

To go out on a high note is everyone’s wish but on Saturday, fate had other plans. This was expected to be a celebration: the last game played at AFC Stoneham’s aging HP Arena before encampment to their £9 million Stoneham Lane Football Complex facility a mile down the road.

The overcast weather did little to raise expectation neither did the encroachment of new development which gave the entrance, via a muddy lane and high wire fencing, an apocalyptic touch, not helped by the ground layout with the pitch and facilities being a sodden walk apart. A lack of brightness in the dressing room and tearoom before the start was not thought a problem and a flicker from a one floodlight being the only clue of what was to come.

The pitch was heavy and in poor condition which wasn’t surprising in the circumstances, but this was of little concern to Bashley who appeared at home right from the start. They took commanding control and it was only the regimentation of the Stoneham back four that kept the floodgates locked. Brad Morris dominated midfield and, like Santa, spread his largess by force-feeding his front line as they battered the home defence.

It took twenty-five minutes before Bash keeper Dan Kempson saw action with a courageous block to nullify a rare Stoneham attempt. The breakthrough came minutes later when a defence clearing high ball from Morgan Browning set Cameron Beard free and, by managing to keep his footing in the heavy ground, his half-scuffed a shot was enough to beat the advancing keeper and find the net.

Bash continued to dominate, and it was only as the half ended that a sense of foreboding permeated the players and Bashley fans with the realisation that the lights were not coming on and the game was over. The fault was in the electricity supply leaving the whole ground victim to the fast falling darkness.

The challenge of exiting from the sensual confusion of pitch-dark dressing rooms and the mud-traps of a darkened car park may well be seen in hindsight as an adventure: but having a potential victory die with the light, was a sad way to end an afternoon that had started as a celebration.

Bashley: Kempson, Browning, Smith, Thompson, Strickland, Ross, Beard, Morris, Whiteley, Morgan, McGrath.

Bashley Heard but not Seen

Downton 0 Bashley 0 (abandoned after 15 minutes)
Bournemouth Senior Cup Quarter Final

The omens weren’t good. It was not until 4pm that that the pitch was declared fit for play. Hearts were lifted as the trip there was made in the dry, but the River Avon had other ideas as few miles short of Downton the river mist deepened into fog.

That said, there was optimism in both camps, and this was encouraged by the match officials who after an inspection decided to give it a go.

Bashley kicked off down the slope and immediately Harry McGrath was prominent down the left wing and after five minutes had a shot that was just off target; Jack Smith was seen to make a couple of early tackles in support of the runs of McGrath.

Elsewhere on the pitch the sounds indicated that nothing of note was happening as we waited for more action in our small area of visibility. Suddenly it went quiet and a slow procession of dark forlorn figures appeared out of the fog like a defeated army retreating from a smoke-field battlefield. The game had been called off.

All praise to the officials to give the game a chance and not to accept their full payment, all praise to Downton who rushed through the post-match grub which gave the disappointing end party atmosphere finish and all praise to the Bashley fans who made the trip and departed in good grace.

McGrath hits the Goal Trail

Bashley 3 Cowes Sports 0
Wessex Premier

Both teams made light of a heavy pitch that had caused some concern earlier in the today. Thanks to sun, and a drying wind, football superseded condition. Bashley, without key midfield defenders Brad Morris and Lewis Ross and with Billy Cooper having his second First Team start, went straight into overdrive and it was all one-way traffic.

The breakthrough came after fifteen minutes when Harry McGrath, the recipient of a fine cross-field ball, cut in from the left and hammered home from the edge of the box in what is becoming a classic McGrath move. Ten minutes later, a thrust toward goal by the bustling Cameron Beard was curtailed abruptly in the box; in the absence of penalty taker Ross, Conor Whiteley gave a masterclass of dead ball placement and Bashley were two up.

It was not all one-way, and home keeper Dan Kempson demonstrated his experience in ending a concerted Yaughtsmen attack. The home side continued to press, and the half ended with chances falling to McGrath and Beard whilst a Harry Morgan attempt hit the post.

Bashley continued the second half in similar vein only to find Cowes’s keeper Fraser Law in the in the form of his life and, their captain Aiden Bryan, a defensive block. As the siege continued McGrath had an attempt saved and Beard netted but was found offside. After a rare counterattack was nullified by the underused Kempson, the Islander’s defence cracked.

McGrath, forsaking his pièce de résistance, swapped flank for centre. Bursting through the middle he gave the brave Law little chance with a low, hard shot, that hit the net with the keeper still running out to intercept.

Bashley confidently saw out the remaining minutes, the young hard-working duo of Billy Cooper and Harry Bunce were rested with George Croucher and Matt Crowe taking up forward and defensive roles respectively. As the game ran out, McGrath made a concerted attempt to compete his hattrick, but accuracy was overtaken by frustration as his final attempt went wide.

Bashley: Kempson, Betts, Thompson, Strickland, Smith, Morgan, Cooper, Whiteley, Bunce, Beard, McGrath
Used Subs: Croucher, Crowe
Att: 143

After the Lord Mayor’s Show

Hamble 1 Bashley 0
Wessex Premier

Bashley fell to earth with jolt following their pulsating win at Hartley Wintley on Tuesday. The absence, through suspension and injury of the two Harry’s Bunce and Morgan so influential on Tuesday, deprived Bashley’s frontmen of oxygen as did the close marking and tackling of a robust Hamble side looking well worth their high league position.

The home side attacked from the start and Dan Kempson in the Bash goal was quickly the centre of attention with a series of smart saves and good high cross judgement. A Bashley attack was curtailed when ex-Bash warhorse Pete Castle took out Conor Whiteley on the edge of the box. Free-kick specialist Whiteley, still groggy from the tackle, unwisely took the free kick himself which he launched into space.

The game was now even with little quarter being given, Cameron Beard the recipient of a quick clearance from Kempson, completed his wing-side run by cutting inside only to see his cross-the-keeper-shot brush the far post. Minutes later he was free down the centre but was caught and robbed in the goal area before he could shoot. An effort from Morgan Browning skimmed the post; whilst frequent raids down the flanks from the speedy Monks’ wingers kept Kempson fully employed.

The second half mirrored the first with Bashley’s close passing game being severely interrupted by the speed and positioning of the Hamble midfield whilst their own attacking play lacked a necessary edge. With twenty minutes to go, an unsuccessful attack following a Bashley forward push left their defence exposed to a breakaway; a chance accepted by the speedy Jordan Rogguette who left all in his wake before crossing into a, by now crowded goalmouth, where his fellow wing forward Ryan Turner, scored from close range.

Bash pushed hard for an equaliser, with Conor Whiteley dropping into a supply role and Billy Cooper joining Harry McGrath and Beard up front but keeper Luke Deacon’s clean sheet was never seriously in doubt.

Bashley: Kempson, Browning, Smith, Morris, Thompson, Strickland, Cameron, Ross, Whiteley, Cooper, McGrath
Att: 63

Photo: Bash Goalkeeper Dan Kempson

Bashley Harried into the next Round

Hartley Wintney 3 Bashley 4
Hants Senior Cup Round 3

Bashley, at their best, pulled off the surprise of the round with a fully deserved win against their Southern Premier League opponents thanks to the goal scoring skills of their three Harrys. The Wessex League visitors were two goals to the good after just fourteen minutes: a typical Harry McGrath ‘cut-across the box and shoot’ opened the scoring with Harry Bunce adding the second from A Conor Whiteley assist.

Hartley were let back into the game when Jack Smith conceded a penalty. The home side started to take control as the second half started and levelled the score early in the second half only for Bashley to re-take the lead seven minutes later through Harry Morgan.

With twenty minutes to go Hartley once more drew level and then as a draw look the likely result a Billy Cooper pass put in Harry Bunce to snatch a late winner. It could have been more as a Harry McGrath penalty followed but was well saved.

A tremendous game with Bashley and their four Harrys (Harry Gravett was in goal) doing the Wessex League proud.

Bashley: Gravett, Betts, Smith, Browning, Morris, Strickland, Bunce, Ross, Whiteley, Morgan, McGrath
Used Subs: Cooper, Crowe

A Win for Bashley Girls team

Alresford 2 Bashley 6 (Hants Girls Youth League U16)
After being formed less than 18 months ago and consisting of keen young ladies with no previous experience and now playing in a competitive league for the first time, Bashley Girls have recorded their first win and what a win by six goals to two! Congratulations to all.

(Photo taken at the game)

Wins for Bashley Youth teams

Bashley Development 6 Bush Hill 0 (Wyvern League West)
Bashley took an early lead with a firm header by Nick Cooper from an out-swinging corner. This early success settled the home team whose close passing game brought further success with goals from Joe Adams and Greg Cooper, giving a heathy 3-0 first half score line.

Bashley continued the second half in similar fashion with Bush Hill relying on long ball tactics that brought scant reward. Greg Cooper completed a hattrick with header and a tap in whilst Joe Adams coolly claimed his pair leaving Bashley comfortable 6-0 winners.

Baffins Milton Rovers 3 Bashley 4 (U18 Hants County Youth League Div. 2)
As if suffering from the long trip to Southsea, Bashley youngsters found themselves one down after a few minutes. The lead lasted just 15 minutes when Billy Cooper, still stiff from First Team bench sitting the day before, equalised. Baffins were quick to respond with a second goal giving them a 2-1 lead at the break.

Within two minutes of the re-start Cooper scored again only for the home side to re-claim the lead. Not to be outdone Bashley came back strongly and drew level thanks to a cracking goal from Jacob Miller then, with ten minutes left, Josh Cook delivered the winner making it four wins from five for young Bashley.

(Photo Billy Cooper)

Last Gasp Winner Sinks Bash

Fareham Town 2 Bashley 1
Wessex Premier

This was hard fought game that that only broke free of stranglehold in the final minutes. Bashley, buoyant from a run of home wins, were denied access to their usual pass-driven attacking play by the tight marking and hard tackling of a Fareham midfield that kept goal-area visits to a minimum.

Apart from one early attack, when a Harry Bunce attempt from a Morgan Browning cross was easily cleared, most of the danger was at the other end with Dan Kempson in the Bashley goal by far busiest keeper. The visitor’s best chance came after 26 minutes when a Bunce shot, hit through a crowded box, hit the post. Four minutes later the Creeksiders took the lead when, by curtesy of a defence splitting pass, Gary Austin’s hard finish left the gallant Kempson well beaten. The half ended with no further score.

On re-start the home side turned up the gas, and it took a double save to a high ball by Kempson to keep the deficit to one. The strain began to tell, and Brad Strickland’s yellow was quickly followed by Bunce’s ten-minute rest in the sinbin.

The intensity also affected Fareham who went down to 10 the result of a red card. Bashley, encouraged by this change of fortune, increased their attacking options by bringing on George Croucher at the expense of defender Browning.

An excellent cross by Dan Thompson to Harry McGrath deserved better than flying over the bar but then, with just two minutes of clock time left, Thompson repeated the manoeuvre; this time to Bunce who kept his effort under the bar to bring the scores level.

The contest now entered the final round with defence forgotten and forward play rife: a Conor Whiteley special flew just wide whilst Kempson at the other end saved well. With the extra time minutes clicking away, Bunce found himself alone in front of goal with just the keeper to beat and in his attempt to scoop the keeper scooped it over the bar.

Whilst this miss was being contemplated, Fareham in the guise of No.9 Josh Benfield raced away to leave Kempson distraught and give the home side an extra-time winner.

Bashley: Kempson, Thompson, Smith, Strickland, Browning, Morris, Ross, Morgan, Whiteley, McGrath, Bunce
Used Sub: Croucher
Att: 71

Bashley in three Goal Late Stunner

Bashley 3 Baffins Milton Rovers 0
Wessex Premier

The early kick-off, the result of floodlight maintenance, did not deter a well-drilled Baffins side who pressed hard from the whistle. They made light work of the heavy pitch, and play was in one direction for most of the first quarter.

Cometh the hour and cometh the keeper: Bash goalie Dan Kempson, under sustained pressure for the first time since his arrival, together with the central defensive pairing of Dan Thompson and Brad Strickland established a no-go area for the visitor’s striking force.

Despite the onslaught, it was Bash who almost opened the scoring when Harry Bunce pounced onto a loose ball and outpaced the defence and, with only the goalkeeper to beat, was pulled up by the whistle for a foul previously awarded to Bashley.

Play then returned to the other end and featured a multiple save by Kempson: first an aerial punch-out immediately followed by a ground level body block. This proved a turning point in the game, and for the final twenty minutes of the half it was two-way traffic. It was the tricky Bunce who looked the man most likely to end the impasse by twice forcing keeper Cameron Scott into action as the half ended.

Bashley were a different team in the second half and gradually took over midfield dominance from the still dangerous visitors. Harry McGrath escaped down the left and his by-line pass across the face of goal was just too quick for out-stretched Bashley boots.

Baffins, still very much in the game were thwarted when Thompson cleared a dangerous ball from the goal-line. That was the final roll of the dice for the Rovers as Bashley now took over. A perfectly judged free kick across the goalmouth by Harry Morgan was meet and headed goalward by Lewis Ross and returned, via post and keeper, only to be coolly dispatched high into the net by a repeat header from the unflappable Ross.

Ten minutes later it was Morgan’s turn when Bunce’s pass into the box found in him in space; he steadied himself, looked up and calmly place his curling shot high over the heads of keeper and defenders to find sanctuary in the far corner of the net.

With ten minutes to go, U18 striker George Croucher came off the bench and made an immediate impact; Conor Whiteley was quick to pick up the ball after a defender slipped and sprinted into the area then, with the goal within his sights, he unselfishly passed to his right having noticed the run of Croucher and, by George, the youngster was not going to miss this chance to score his first senior goal.

Baffins faded with the light and the game drew to a close.

Bashley: Kempson, Browning, Smith, Thompson, Strickland, Morris, Ross, Morgan, Bunce, Whiteley, McGrath
Used Sub: Croucher
Att: 144

Photo: Goal scorer Harry Morgan

A night for Remembrance

Brockenhurst 1 Bashley 2
Wessex Premier

Bashley, fielding an unchanged side from Saturday, apart from Conor Whiteley replacing the absent Jamie Webber, started with an intensity that was maintained throughout the first half. Brockenhurst were never allowed to settle and spent most of the time on the back foot.

Cameron Beard, looking sharp and dangerous, was enjoying the space created by Conor Whiteley playing as a false number nine. Lewis Ross was a midfield catapult with his forward runs down the centre. Harry Bunce was his usual tormenting self and Harry Morgan always available with his anticipation and use of space. Harry McGrath, in a more defensive role, was quick to pick up any break made by the Badgers.

Surprisingly the first half was goalless but not short of thrills: Beard hit the post; long range specialists Whiteley and Dan Thompson had near misses and Bashley’s approach play a joy to behold. Whilst Brockenhurst had the occasional break it was their defence that took the honours.

As if to taunt my last sentence, it was a goalkeeper error that brought about the first goal. Jon Webb, the reliable Brock keeper, slipped as he attempted a clearance: a mistake that was pounced on by the lurking Whiteley who responded by rounding the embarrassed Webb to open the scoring. Minutes later, Bunce on the edge of the box hounded the ball from harassed defenders and laid back to Beard to hit it home full and hard in classic style. Nine minutes into the half and Bash are two up.

Then to the relief of home supporters the Kraken awakes. Brockenhurst make positional changes, use the bench and apply pressure, driven in the main by two Bash old boys. Mitchel Speechley- Price (MSP), recently returned from Australia, where he broke a goal scoring record and many a young Shelia’s heart, went into a wide-right position where he became the target for long cross-field balls most from the boot of captain Ronan Moore. MSP’s heading was direction controlled and timed to perfection and, thanks to the superb marshalling of the Bash defence, unproductive.

Brad Morris, Dan Thompson and Brad Strickland formed a hard-tackling barrier around keeper Dan Kempson whilst Jack Smith made sure that MSP didn’t function on the ground as he was doing in the air. McGrath hustled and harried and, as the game intensified, defence became a team effort with Bunce alone up front.

Brock got the goal they were searching for in the first minute of extra time from a penalty that nobody was sure what for. The game ended in a show of emotion as Bashley openly celebrated their affection and support for their manager and captain still in shock from the loss of wife and mother Kairen.

Bashley: Kempson, Smith, Thompson, Strickland, Morris, Ross, Morgan, Bunce, Whiteley, Beard, McGrath
Used Sub: Ollie Smith

Photo: Goal scorer Conor Whiteley