There was late drama on Saturday for Basingstoke Town as they left it until the 92nd minute to secure a 3-2 victory against Kettering Town.
A free-scoring ‘Stoke have notched up nine goals in their last three games, with Sam Smart opening the weekend’s scoring in the 29th minute.
‘Stoke perhaps should have taken the lead even earlier when Sam Argent found himself unmarked at the back post but headed over the top on 16 minutes before squandering another opportunity four minutes later.
The away side could not get a grip on midfield as Basingstoke piled pressure on at the Camrose in front of 422 fans and could easily have put the tie to bed before half time.
The second half continued in the same vein as Callum Bunting was allowed to latch onto a through ball to round the Kettering keeper to double the lead on 65 minutes.
But defensive frailties have been Basingstoke’s undoing in recent weeks and the Poppies threatened a comeback late on when their first two shots on target in the 82nd and 84th minute both ended up in the back of the net.
It was game on when Colm McAdden was unable to keep out Aaron O’Connor’s low shot sparking a period of sustained pressure from the away side.
Substitute Matthew Stevens bundled in a cross at the far post to level the score as ‘Stoke were forced to defend seven corners and two free kicks before the 90 minutes were up.
The final blow came courtesy of match hero Bunting as his stoppage time header secured victory.
Manager Terry Brown said: “I thought we were the better side from start to finish. I think they had a minute where they scored a goal and then the next five minutes were like Dunkirk in there with balls coming in left, right and centre.
“We managed to weather that and nick a late goal that we thoroughly deserved, I thought we were by far the better side.
“To show the character they did after giving two goals away in a minute, to come back and win it was credit to how much heart and belief the boys have.”
Much of Terry Brown’s post match interview turned to the “dire” financial situation at the club.
He added: “It’s a fantastic day but a sad realisation that the Club can’t even fund a team on a budget of just over a grand a week.”
Basingstoke welcome Marlow in the Cup on Tuesday before returning to league action at Chesham on Saturday.
– Owen Hughes