Westleigh Park, Havant
Like an attempt on the ‘most Vegas crooners snapping out a swing beat with their fingers’ world record, sometimes everything just clicks. Just three weeks ago we were taking five fists to the face from Sutton’s fruitful forwards. Just a week and a half ago, we exited the FA Cup like a knuckleheaded homophobe that had accidentally wandered into a transgender support group meeting.
Gloom. Our expectations were realistic and tempered but they weren’t borderline suicidal. What happened to our handsome Hawks of last season? It appeared the amount of loan players around had diluted us somewhat. Eighty-five parts water to two parts cordial does not make for an amazing squash. Probably could be sold as a homeopathic remedy but when has that ever helped anyone, really?
Still, we’ve chucked the weak lemon drink down the sink, and instead we’ve gone for a nice tonic. That tonic being two wins on the bounce with seven goals into the bargain. From gloom to BOOM! Naturally we’ll have to throw some caveats in, but we’ll get to that.
First let’s bask in that rarest of things, a three goal half time lead. I does love thems I does. Much like the entire 90 minutes against Maidenhead last week, the opening 45 consisted of two fine finishes and a penalty. Two of our Isle of Wight branch, Scotty and Prez, certainly got things going, not only buzzing around behind Dennis Oli’s target role, but also scoring the first two, although Big Den certainly takes a great deal of credit himself for the opener.
After quarter of an hour, Perry Ryan dug out the ball in midfield and went on a long, breezy run before unleashing a shot from outside the area. Louis Wells made a more than decent save but his attempt to push it round the post didn’t quite make it, with Oli on hand to trap the ball. Despite the poacher’s instinct clearly coursing through his veins, he quickly weighed up the unlikely angle and decided instead to moonwalk the ball back into the path of Alex Przespolewski, scourge of PA announcers everywhere, who took one steadying touch before slamming the ball between the two defenders on the line. Entirely splendid.
Eight minutes before half time, we had a second goal. Dan Blanchett ambled down the left before kicking on with a burst of pace and supplying a cross of such perfection we immediately had it valued for insurance purposes. Scott Jones, who has been in exemplary form of late, was certainly not tardy in his arrival to meet it either, putting the ideal angle on the ball to defeat Wells and the attentions of Basingstoke defender, and former Hawk, Jay Gasson.
Just four minutes later our leader grew larger still with Nic Ciardini felled in the box. Cards got straight up to place the ball on the spot and calmly slotted out of Wells’ reach. Three-nil, half time, and relax.
Naturally, there had to be something to make us go “ooh, hang on” at one point or other, and ten minutes into the second half, Basingstoke gave themselves a chance. Scott Bevan got his 6’ 7” frame down sharply to save a tight angled shot from Rob Rice, but unfortunately it rebounded straight onto the shin of Keze Ibe and bobbled in.
Despite this setback there was no panic, no Keystone Kops collapse and within ten minutes our three goal margin was restored. Dennis Oli showed just how dangerous he can be. Breaking forward with Rice blocking his route in front of him we thought he’d need a better angle to get a good sight on goal. Turned out he knew exactly where it was, and didn’t even need to look up. With Wells leaving his far post unattended, a crisp shot left Dennis’ boot and hit the top corner half a second later.
This is not the full story either, as Wells needed to make at least three saves and blocks to stop the scoreline getting all the more embarrassing. Basingstoke will want to forget their visits to WLP in 2013, having lost by the same margin back in February. Reading that report back, a sense of increasing pleasure, consistency and things ‘finally coming together’ can be dug out from my lumpen prose. So, yeah, parallels. These last two Saturdays have been great and make that Sutton game feel a long time ago now, rather than 21 days.
We had said in previous weeks that there was no bite up front but even without the injured Sahr Kabba and Christian Nanetti, things are seeming to gel. The target is being hit regularly, and more than that a lot of them are goin’ in. However with Dennis going off on 70 with hamstring twinge, Sahr, Christian and Ed Harris all out, and most of our loans back from whence they came, keeping the momentum going, especially with a tough away trip to Dover next week, will be a big ask. Still I’d rather be going there on the back of the performances we’ve seen in the past week than a further pile up of abject defeats.
Let’s keep this motor running.