Basingstoke prove to be tough Trophy nuts to crack
TORQUAY United’s young team may not have hit the heights of their previous 4-1 league wins over St Albans City and Concord Rangers, but they battled through a difficult and draining FA Trophy tie, on a testing pitch at the Camrose Stadium, and finally overcame a spirited Basingstoke Town in a penalty shoot-out.
It fell to 21-year-old midfielder Jake Andrews to deliver the final blow, after Town’s Mitchell Parker had fired their fourth spot-kick over Shaun MacDonald’s bar, and he was not found wanting.
Jamie Reid, who had scored his 14th goal of the season to equalise Dean Stow’s eighth minute penalty, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Brett Williams and Liam Davis also kept their nerve in the shoot-out at the end of an afternoon which tested Gary Johnson’s side mentally as much as physically.
Basingstoke under veteran former Aldershot Town and AFC Wimbledon manager Terry Brown have a lively and fit young team – impressive striker Sam Smart headed off to a trial at Sunderland after Saturday’s tie – and they gave their all.
Brown decided that attack was the best form of defence, and their three-man midfield caused enough problems for Johnson to change his own formation and send Opi Edwards on for Kalvin Kalala at half-time.
By then Stow had given Town the lead, after MacDonald was adjudged to have brought down the mobile
Jamie Reid celebrates his equaliser against Basingstoke Smart, only for Reid to punish some hesitant home defending on Saikou Janneh’s ball into the middle with a cool finish…1-1 after only ten minutes.
There were plenty of mis- takes on both sides – hardly surprising given the bobbly surface – but the conditions made for an eventful, end-to-end cup-tie with MacDonald and home goalkeeper Colm McAdden both pulling off excellent saves.
One MacDonald effort just before half-time was out of the top drawer, while Smart for Town and Andrews for United both hit the woodwork.
The introduction of Edwards lifted the Gulls’ attack during a second half in which they did their best to make full-time training pay.
Edwards, fellow sub Brett Williams and Reid all went close, with ‘bobbles’ in the penalty area not helping at crucial moments, but Basingstoke never went under and not even extra-time, which saw Edwards go off with a recurrence of thigh trouble, could produce a winner.
Johnson revealed later that, rather than ask for volunteers, he and coach Shaun Taylor had picked the penalty-takers in advance – and they were indeed proved right in their selections.
Basingstoke Town (4-3-3): McAdden; Stow, Hollamby, Bayliss, Gerrard; Kennedy, Collier (Akers 106), Deadfield; McKnight, Argent (Wright 102), Smart (Parker 86); Subs not used: Philby, Orvis.
Torquay United (4-4-2): MacDonald; Wynter, Koue Niate, Cameron, Davis; Keating (Williams 66), Lemonheigh-Evans, Andrews, Kalala (Edwards 46/Nabi 96); Reid, Janneh; Subs not used: Sendles-White, Burton; Bookings: None; Referee: Wayne Cartmel (Beds); Attendance: Not announced.