Sam Smart’s composed finish in stoppage time capped an excellent individual performance and settled an even contest at the Camrose, grabbing a place in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy for Basingstoke and dumping a strong Enfield side out of the competition.
Saturday’s visitors are flying high in the Bostik league, sitting in third place thanks largely to a strong away record and an attack that has been almost unstoppable, plundering 34 goals in just 12 matches. Basingstoke knew they had to be at their best to overcome the Towners and put in a good performance, earning victory in Terry Brown’s first match back in charge. Brown had returned to the helm following the departure of predecessor Jason Bristow, his nineteen years at the club coming to an end in favour of a move to Eastleigh.
Despite the change in manager there was a familiar look to the ‘Stoke line-up as Brown named an unchanged starting eleven, with new striker Mitch Parker being left off the bench due to international duty, captaining and scoring for the England C team in the Falkland Islands. The previous weekend has shown the team’s ability to go toe to toe with the best the seventh tier has to offer despite defeat to league leading Weymouth and they were on the front foot early, Smart’s first effort of the day skidding off the slick turf and forcing a good stop from Joe Wright. Enfield carried a threat throughout the tie though and just after the quarter hour were in front. Sam Youngs delivered from the left wing and Lewis Taaffe rose to flick a header into the corner of the net.
Despite the deficit the Dragons pressed on and arguably shaded the first half but to no avail. Rob Gerrard had volley following a corner blocked by his own teammate before seeing a header tipped over the bar while Smart took aim with a fierce left footed shot that was wonderfully saved. At the other end McAdden was only stretched when Shane Hollamby’s attempt to cut out a cross deflected the ball towards the top corner. The home goalkeeper produced an excellent save to keep it out.
The second period brought more chances for Enfield and Basingstoke were let off when Billy Bricknell somehow failed to convert a cutback from a few yards out with the goal at his mercy and his team were pegged back midway through the second half thanks to a clanger from Wright. The keeper looked to have held a fizzing, low cross from Smart but to the delight of the Camrose crowd the wet ball squirmed through his hands and under his body, rolling over the line to gift ‘Stoke an equaliser. It looked all set for a replay as the game entered stoppage time after McAdden had raced out from his goal to make a crucial save when one on one. However just a minute later Smart took advantage of another Enfield mistake. Racing on to the ball as it was deflected in behind the visiting defence by their own player, he cut in from the left side of the box to stroke the ball under Joe Wright to spark huge celebrations by the corner flag and win the £4,000 in prize money for his club and set up a home tie against Torquay United in the next round.