For the second time in less than two weeks, Walton Casuals made the journey to the Camrose looking to exact revenge for a 2-1 defeat in the League Cup 12 days previously. Having tasted defeat for the first time since taking over, Martin Kuhl wanted a reaction from his players and got what he was after as a severely depleted squad dug in to collect all three points and return to winning ways.
Dean Stow, Dan Bayliss, Ben Wright and Rob Gerrard all missed out as injuries and illness hit an already small squad meaning Kuhl had just 13 fully fit players to choose from. Colm McAdden returned from an illness of his own to reclaim the number 1 shirt after a difficult debut at Swindon Supermarine for stand-in stopper Cameron Kennedy while Drew Matthews and Harry Pearse were handed their first starts for the club.
Basingstoke had the better of proceedings early on without either side having many chances. Walton threatened with a Cole Brown strike from the edge of the box and a Harry Mills free kick that was curled off target while at the other end, Harry Pearse cut onto his left foot before shooting low at visiting goalkeeper Brandon Daly. Pearse was very involved on his first start and along with Sam Deadfield, started to get hold of the midfield and run the play.
The new man capped off an excellent start to the game by opening the scoring just over midway through the first half. Sam Argent won the ball in the corner and squared it into the box for Zidan Akers. The cross was slightly behind the Basingstoke winger and has he stretched back for the ball he was only able to deflect it to the edge of the box where Pearse made a late run and fired a pinpoint shot across Daly and into the bottom corner.
Basingstoke have been prone to conceding soon after scoring and, on this occasion, it took 8 minutes for Walton to equalise. James Ewington capitalised on a mistake at the back, finding himself in a 2 v 1 situation against Charlie Kennedy. He squared to teammate Sonny Black who coolly slotted past Colm McAdden. The hosts made amends just four minutes later though after Akers had been denied by a miraculous block after shooting from close range. The ensuing corner came out to Pearse who curled in a cross that was palmed away by Daly, only for Sam Smart to pounce and fire into the empty net from a tight angle.
Walton came out for the second half on top but Basingstoke largely kept them at arm’s length. Pearse’s influence in midfield waned as the away side pressed for an equaliser while the home team showed plenty of threat on the break. Sam Argent twisted and turned before forcing Daly into a good save and a goalmouth scramble led to him firing just over the bar. At the other end McAdden twice got down to make good saves but Basingstoke were able to see out the victory for the fourth time in five matches under Martin Kuhl.