Basingstoke Vikings 0 – 5 Romsey 3

Romsey travelled to Basingstoke on Saturday looking to build on their 1-0 victory against the Isle of Wight. Last season Romsey had somewhat struggled away from home and the Third XI expected a tough test. The first half saw a starting line up that was much the same as the one that had faced the Isle of Wight, with Jon Marsh making his season debut coming into the midfield. On a grey day Romsey started the first half brightly, finding the backboard early on through winger Alex Halcoussis. The goal was, however, ruled illegal and disallowed as it had bounced off a Romsey back-stick on its way into the Basingstoke D. A legal goal was soon to come for Romsey, with Zak Cooper winning a short corner. Mark McArdle delivered what he himself described as an ‘unbelievable injection’ to Captain Mathew Clark, who struck a pile-driver across the face of goal and into the bottom corner. Clark was proving too much for the Basingstoke defence as he quickly hit the backboard again, unfortunately this too was ruled out due to a back-stick. Jon Marsh and Danny Nicoll formed the backbone of the Romsey team, dictating play in the first half, and it was a moment of magic from the latter that brought Romsey their second goal of the afternoon. A heroic run up-field from Nicoll culminated in the Thirds player falling over, getting back up, driving into the D and smashing the ball home. It was the newest edition to the squad, Ollie Robley, who provided the visitors with their third and final goal before half time, linking up well with winger Chris Harwood, before striking to the back post to score.

At 3-0 up, the half time team talk was a plea for more of the same – and to close the gap between attack and defence. Romsey at times had left themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack, although the back three of McArdle, Luke Hammond and Hugh Davidson had made sure that keeper Lukasz Suleja was never truly troubled in the first half. Striker Ben Ellis had troubled the Basingstoke all afternoon, and his performance in the second half brought him two goals and the man of the match award. The first came from the referee playing advantage after a Basingstoke player touched the ball with his foot, and Ellis moved through on goal to round the keeper and chip in. The second was another composed finish, as the striker calmly slotted the ball to the keeper’s right and into the corner of the goal. The end of the second half proved to be end to end stuff, with players such as Fergus Longman pushing forward for Romsey and Basingstoke quickly counter-attacking. Having been let off the hook once or twice, the 3rd XI kept their clean sheet and maintained their winning start to the season. A strong team performance was undermined only by a slightly lackadaisical approach to the game once 3 or 4 goals up, and Romsey have cause to be confident approaching their next outing.

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