Basingstoke 2 Staines 1 (29/10/2011)
This wasn’t my first visit to Basingstoke’s Camrose ground. I’d seen Reading play an utterly dire pre-season friendly in the late 90s, and a much more promising resounding reserve victory a few years ago, but this was my first visit for a proper Basingstoke game.
To be honest I only went because a mate was going. While it’s by no means the worst ground I’ve been to – and the bar is certainly one of the best – it’s not the most inspiring of grounds. The main stand is actually pretty good for this level, and no doubt offers an excellent view, but somehow seems perched up high and set back, to the extent that you don’t even notice it unless looking right towards it.
The other sides just have three of four steps of terracing. That makes getting a good view something of a premium at the best of times, but down one side the terracing is so far back that even from the top step, it offers a view from the shallowest of angles. Once a grass bank down to the pitch, with views possible from all down the slope, the new arrangement renders all but the top step useless. At least is has a bit of cover, offering somewhere along with the smaller cover at one end, somewhere to huddle as the nights start to draw in.
Luckily the October weather was still mild enough to give an impression of warmth when the sun shone, although the strong wind gave a distinct autumnal chill.
The wind also had a bearing on the game. Basingstoke kicked with the wind in the first half. With Staines goal kicks barely making the halfway line, it was certainly an advantage. It was one-way traffic and the only real surprise was that Basingstoke weren’t in front.
That all changed in the final minutes of the half. First, a ball into the box was misjudged by the Staines back line, allowing the ball to be knocked in at the far post. A few minutes later it was 2-0, with some more slack defending being punished.
Technically there were just eight minutes between the goals, but there was also a long worrying stoppage directly after the first goal, with a Staines player being stretchered off with a neck injury.
After the turn-around, Staines wasted no time getting back into the game. A nice little move ended with the ball being taken round the keeper to make it 2-1.
With the wind in their favour, and Basingstoke on the back foot, and having outplayed Basingstoke on this ground just four days earlier, an equaliser looked likely. They had the momentum, but like a grammatically incompetent schoolboy, Staines failed to capitalise. Despite a few scares about as frightening as the typical Hallowe’en facemask that’d be seen around over the next couple of days, Basingstoke saw out the remaining 40 minutes with little fanfare.
So, not the greatest game, but I expect the visit to Brentford will be a little more exciting.