Eastleigh 0 Basingstoke Town 2
The Dragons got their season off in fine style with a comfortable three points, slaying the Spitfires at the Silverlake Stadium and equalling their best start to a season since Sergio Torres and Mark Peters bagged the goals against Dorchester on 13th August 2005.
Six years on it was Delano Sam-Yorke with two well taken goals that ensured the points were secured for Basingstoke. Statistically the odds were stacked against ‘Stoke, despite winning at Eastleigh last season, the previous 12 encounters in the Conference South had brought 8 wins for Eastleigh with just three successes for Town and one draw.
Both teams lined up much changed from last season with league debuts for Ashley Bayes, Toby Little, Wes Daley, Shaun McAuley and returning Tim Sills for the Dragons, and the hosts pursuing a mixture of full time youngsters whilst retaining the services of the likes of Tom Jordan , Richard Gillespie, Ross Bottomley and Andy Forbes returning to the Club as a defender.
The home side made a bright start and in the opening minutes the visitors looked shaky in defence with a mistake from Jay Gasson almost allowing Andrew white an opportunity in the first minute, White’s effort deflected for a corner. At the other end a Daly free kick, curled into the Eastleigh box, was headed just over the bar by David Pratt who was influential at both ends of the park for the visitors. Pratt’s energy was a constant thorn in the Eastleigh defence and likewise in the Spitfires, attack, on numerous occasions to be found assisting his colleagues in defence and breaking up home attacks.
Poor defending by the visitors allowed Eastleigh a scoring opportunity. In the tenth minute Eastleigh conjured up one of their better moves of the game when Ryan O’Hara fed a neat ball down the right for Andrew White. White did well from the by-line finding Gillespie with a perfect cross in the centre, and the Dragons benefiting from experience between the posts as Bayes cleared up the mess for his side by making a fine save denying Gillespie a sure goal.
Against the run of play, Basingstoke opened the scoring through Delano Sam-Yorke in the 13th minute. Sam -Yorke made a strong run towards goal and broke into the 18 yard box, kept his cool and composure drilling his shot left footed low into the corner past Mike Green in the home goal.
The Dragons did not look back from this point as they took control of the game. Pratt attempted a bicycle kick on the quarter hour but failed to get sufficient power in his shot. Two minutes later a Town corner was flicked on by Pratt and Ross Adams met the ball but his powerful header misdirected well wide. Eastleigh were bemused by the skill and pace of Sam-Yorke and made a change after 20 minutes, Jordan Rose replacing Ben Wilson and a re-shuffle at the back. It made little difference as the Dragons striker was fouled on the edge of the box as he was about to storm goalward and fortunately for the home side Daly’s free kick came to nothing.
Sam-Yorke wrapped the points up in the 28th minute. Good build up from the visitors involving Daly who was instrumental in the Town mid-field saw the ball whipped in and the Town striker convert.
The Dragons controlled the remainder of the half allowing the hosts one opportunity near the end as Gillespie, who looked the most promising for the home side, did well down the right touchline crossing inches above Jamie Brown in the box.
Half-time: Eastleigh 0 Basingstoke Town 2
The second half was something of a non event, the home side huffed and puffed but never looked like breaking down a solid looking Basingstoke defence. Dragons fans may be concerned that Town did not push on in the second period to stamp their authority and win more convincingly and equally home fans will be left to ponder that the visitors arrived in their patch, did a job and went away convincingly with the three points.
Just after the break the Spitfires made their second substitution as they looked for a way back into the game.
A long ball forward saw Gillespie hold the ball up in the Basingstoke penalty area, the former Bashley forward made a great turn tumbling just as he was about to shoot. The referee was uninterested in any claims for a penalty.
Pratt came close with a good effort from a tight angle on the right, as his shot was driven dangerously across the face of goal, meanwhile at the opposite end in the 68th minute, a long ball up field by Eastleigh ‘keeper Green saw White chase down well and latch on to the loose ball, which he controlled, before firing a shot over the bar.
Eastleigh had much more possession in the second half and despite periods of pressure Town looked in control and as though they could move up through the gears if required. Thirteen minutes from time Sam-Yorke picked the ball up on half way and stormed forward again, this time the home side held up his progress but with support from Daly the attack continued before the hosts scrambled the ball away. He came close to his hat-trick six minutes from the end following a quick free kick, seemingly with the goal at his mercy and almost embarrassed Sam-Yorke momentarily hesitated with his shot allowing Green to make a fine block.
Town boss Frank Gray will be pleased with the performance and three points, and two home games on Tuesday night and Saturday 20th against teams that lost their openers 4-0 and 5-0, whilst Ian Baird ponders on a long mid-week trip to Truro who turned over Chelmsford City on the opening day.
Town: Ashley Bayes, Rob Rice, Toby Little, Ross Adams (c), Jay Gasson, Stuart Lake, Wes Daley, Shaun McAuley ( sub Jide Ogunbote 45), Tim Sills, Delano Sam-Yorke, David Pratt. Unused subs: Nathan Smart, Matt Warner, Rob Gradwell, Chay Morris