Farnborough slipped to a narrow defeat against a potent Dragons side at the Camrose, despite scoring three of their own in this goal-laden affair on Saturday afternoon.
Yellows’ boss Garry Haylock made just the one change to the team that drew with Dover Athletic last time out, Esmond James completing his enforced absence through suspension to replace Jordan Merriman. Haylock also brought in another attacker onto his substitutes’ bench, with young Frenchman Kevin Asare-Addai replacing full-back Jordan Chandler.
A first half low in quality left a healthy crowd of 614 with not much to cheer, but Frank Gray’s charges did score the only goal of the opening 45 minutes, to lead at the interval.
Delano Sam-Yorke – who seems to be forming a burgeoning partnership with fellow front man Tim Sills – used his considerable frame to good effect in the ‘Boro area, causing havoc in the heart of the visiting defence. With a resulting loose ball not cleared, Shaun McAuley pounced and held off the attentions of Doug Bergqvist to arrow past Jake Somerville into the far hand corner of the net.
Ex-Boro boss Gray has certainly put together a well-drilled side and, led by the booming voice of ‘keeper Ashley Bayes, Basingstoke began to take control of the encounter.
They should have doubled their lead before referee Chris Brook blew his whistle for the break, with Rob Rice missing a glorious opportunity from the penalty spot. Sam-Yorke got inside of Adam Bygrave, with the ‘Boro captain bringing down the former A.F.C. Wimbledon hit man. Rice stepped up to take the kick, but Somerville guessed right – literally – and kept his team alive.
Town continued to exert their superiority – especially in the possession stakes – at the start of the second period, and their dominance was duly rewarded. McAuley this time repaid the favour to Sam-Yorke, teeing up his colleague from all of five yards out. The hitman took one touch to get the ball out of his feet, with the second a clinical finish which left Somerville with no chance.
‘Boro had to respond quickly to stand any chance of securing at least a point – and they did, through their on-loan Aldershot starlet, Reece Connolly. The young attacker sped onto an inch-perfect through ball from ‘Boro’s star man – Alex Woodyard – before lifting it calmly over Bayes to seal a superbly worked move.
Woodyard’s Southend United colleague George Smith then replaced Matt Pattison – who was plying his trade at the Camrose only last season – on the hour mark, and he certainly lifted the tempo, just as he had done against Dartford the previous weekend.
The prolific Sills, and then McAuley, both spurned glorious opportunities to restore their team’s two goal advantage, but they weren’t left to rue their misses for long. A terrific in-swinging free-kick from Toby Little was met by the deftest of touches from Sills, leaving Somerville stranded behind his hesitant defence.
Gray then took Sills off – much to the relief of the ‘Boro travelling faithful – and Haylock followed suit in ringing the changes, sending on Tony Garrod and Asare-Addai in a final throw of the dice.
However, it was the first replacement – Smith – who set up Woodyard’s goal that sparked a frantic final 10 minutes. The two combined to see Woodyard drive in from 20 yards – Bayes should have arguably done better – but the match, from nowhere, was still alive.
Somerville pulled off another top drawer save to deny the irrepressible Sam-Yorke, and the impossible looked every inch attainable as a tiring Town began to sit deeper and deeper.
Garrod was presented with the chance of the half, but ballooned well over from three yards out, and the groan around the ground was palpable – even from the home support, who were astonished at how events were panning out.
They needn’t have worried though as, from a swift counter-attack, McAuley put the game to bed by meeting a towering Sam-Yorke header with a bullet like finish from just outside the penalty box.
‘Boro still had time to add a third – Phil Appiah catching one on the sweet spot to ping one into Bayes’ top right hand corner – but it was all in vain, as the points went, deservedly, to a Basingstoke team who had extended their unbeaten run to six matches.