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Saturday 22nd November – Basingstoke 1 – 0 Thurrock
FA Trophy – 3pm
REVENGE may be a dish best served cold but Basingstoke Town enjoyed offering up a lukewarm helping to Thurrock.
Town had suffered a 6-0 reverse when the sides met at Ship Lane just two weeks before Saturday’s FA Trophy clash but were able to get their own back by knocking their Blue Square South rivals out of the competition with a battling performance at the Camrose.
However, Basingstoke manager Frank Gray – once of Grays Athletic – is clearly a vengeful man.
While he was pleased with the result he wants his side to avenge their heavy defeat by beating Thurrock when they visit Basingstoke again in early April.
“It’s just nice to be in the next round,” Gray said.
“The best revenge would be to get three points back in the league when they come here.” Phil Ruggles’ second half strike settled a match low in quality but high in effort.
Both teams clearly wanted to win but failed to find their best form during a scrappy encounter.
Grays aid: “It was a real cup tie where both sides gave 100 per cent. They made a mistake and we capitalised with a good finish by Phil Ruggles but it could have gone the other way so it’s nice to get the result.”
The game was a war of attrition from the start, with both sides struggling to control the ball and maintain possession. Thurrock had the better of the early stages, with Town unable to get out of their own half.
However, they were largely reduced to wild shots from distance, though it did take good blocks from Rob Watkins and then ’keeper Ross Kitteridge to keep Danny Hart and Che Stadhart at bay in the eighth minute.
While Thurrock shaded a poor opening 45 minutes, the best chance of the half fell to Basingstoke’s Sido Jombarti, who failed to find the target after the ball broke to him six yards from goal.
Jombarti then went close to scoring at the other end, Hart’s low ball hitting him and rolling goalwards, but Kitteridge was able to collect.
Bristow did well to deny Stadhart a chance as the half came to a close, heading over the bar for a corner under pressure from the front man.
Thoughts that the second half might be a more high-quality affair were short-lived as both sides continued to struggle, with the ball in the air for long periods.
The breakthrough came two minutes after the hour and was the result of a mistake by Thurrock defender Rob Swaine, who allowed Bryant to nick the ball away from him, putting Ruggles in the clearand and while Joe Woolley was able to get a hand to his shot, he was unable to prevent it nestling in the corner of the net.
Thurrock began to play with more urgency, piling the pressure on a Basingstoke side who have struggled to hold on to leads this season.
The Town defence bent, with crosses flashing across goal and shots blocked, but did not break.
Thurrock’s best chance came when Kitteridge failed to hold a through-ball on the edge of his area.
The ball dropped to Fola Orilonishe just outside the box but the Basingstoke ’keeper made up for his error by blocking the winger’s poorly-hit effort.
Thurrock: Woolley, Clark, Wright (sub Lechmore 80min), Swaine (sub Spencer 67min), Paine, Flynn, Hart, Sambrook (sub Hughes 23min), McKenzie, Stadhart, Orilonishe. Subs (not used): Gilbey, Anderson.