Basingstoke Town returned to Southern League action on Tuesday with a well-earned draw away at Slough after Saturday’s away fixture in King’s Lynn was called off.
‘Stoke’s torrid away form seemed to have finally come to an end when Jack McKnight stepped up to take a free kick with 25 minutes left of the second half.
The forward bent a world class free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards out to edge Basingstoke 1-0 ahead against the high-flying Slough.
But the lead lasted just 10 minutes before former ‘Stoke player Chris Flood – the third ex-Basingstoke player on the pitch for Slough – levelled the score after some impressive footwork in the box from teammate Simon Dunn.
‘Stoke sit 12th in the standings on 49 points.
The result coincided with news that Basingstoke Town Community Football Club’s future home had been secured at a council cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council cabinet members unanimously approved a proposal to grant a long lease to Hampshire Football Association for the stadium at Winkelbury.
Under the arrangement, Hampshire FA would manage and develop the facility with investment from its own resources and from the Football Foundation to provide an artificial pitch.
The 3G pitch upgrade means the club would meet ground grading requirements for the Southern Premier League and allow for extensive use by the community in Basingstoke.
The ground will also become the home for Basingstoke Town Ladies FC.
Community Club Secretary Steve Williams said: “This is a win-win situation for all the parties.
“The arrangement will provide an asset for long-term and extensive community use run by Hampshire Football Association with no financial cost to council taxpayers.”
But Mr Williams warned that “considerable financial and other challenges” remained.
Cabinet member for communities and community safety, Cllr Simon Bound, said the partnership would involve no outlay for the council and secure savings in running costs, while providing some 60 hours weekly use by the community.
Hampshire FA’s Chief Executive Officer Neil Cassar said it is “an exciting opportunity for football in the borough”.
‘Stoke welcome St Neots to their current home at the Camrose on Saturday.