Vanarama Conference South – PlayOff Semi-Final – 1st leg
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Whitehawk FC 1 – 1 Basingstoke Town FC
Shots: WHK 17-5 BAS; On Target: WHK 9-3 BAS; Corners: WHK 5-2 BAS; Fouls Committed: WHK 11-13 BAS; Offside: WHK 0-0 BAS. Cautions: WHK 0-2 BAS; Red Cards: WHK 0-0 BAS.
By Anthony Scott
A place in the Vanarama South Play Off Final is well and truly in the balance after Whitehawk couldn’t make their dominance count at East Brighton Park.
Chris Flood gave visitors Basingstoke Town a first half lead against the run of play, before Jake Robinson’s second half header means it’s all square going to the Soccer AM Stadium on Saturday.
In truth, Steve King’s side should be taking an advantage to Hampshire, with a mixture of good goalkeeping and wasteful finishing frustrating the hosts.
Basingstoke arrived at Sussex on the back of three 1-0 wins over the Hawks already this season, and went a goal ahead for a fourth occasion twelve minutes in.
Despite a strong start from the Hawks, Tom Bird lifted the ball forward from left-back and after Lee Hills failed to deal with it on the edge of his own area, Flood nipped in to fire past the stranded Craig Ross.
The response was instant from the hosts, with Nick Arnold stinging the palms of Stuart Moore with a fierce effort from the edge of the penalty area before Sergio Torres’ header forced Moore into a smart save to his left.
Scott Neilson then saw his effort kept out by the base of the post after being laid off by Sam Deering as Whitehawk continued to boss possession, with the visitors content with sitting back and putting eleven men behind the ball.
However, a further defensive mix up nearly allowed Basingstoke to make it 2-0 when Lloyd Macklin beat the hesitant Osei Sankofa to a ball through, but Ross was out quickly to block the forward’s effort.
Moore then produced a great save to turn Deering’s goal bound effort from 25 yards over the bar, before diving to his right to prevent Robinson’s free-kick from finding the bottom corner.
Robinson continued to be a thorn in the side of the Basingstoke defence, but couldn’t get the better of Moore yet again when he flicked on Arnold’s ball in at the near post, only for the keeper to turn the ball away.
However, the striker got the better of the keeper five minutes into the second half. Arnold whipped in a corner from the right, and great movement from Robinson allowed him to get away from his marker and his glancing header at the near post gave Moore no chance.
The hosts continued to pile forward, with Town only having one shot on target in the second half. John-Paul Kissock saw his effort blocked by a lunging defender after the ball ricocheted around in the penalty area, before Deering’s effort went straight at Moore from outside the area.
Some stern defending limited Whitehawk’s chances in the second period – with Vanarama South Player of the Month for April, Danny Mills, being marked out of the game.
The Hawks had one last opportunity with two minutes to go. After some great play down the right, Deering played the ball across to Neilson in the middle, but his goal-bound strike was blocked by Jay Gasson.
At 1-1, a great second leg is in prospect at the Soccer AM Stadium on Saturday. With Boreham Wood winning 2-0 at Havant & Waterlooville in the other Semi Final, it looks likely that the league runners-up will await in the final…