Stirred But Not Shaken
It's a first loss of the season - but no disgrace - against a very good Basford side, but Church;s reaction and second half performance was as impressive as any other so far.
An entertaining and revealing game – possibly of two halves – that saw Church disappointed that they registered no points against a Basford side with a 100% record in league and cup to date.
A rather flat first half, an exhilarating second including a frantic stoppage time period when three believable penalty shouts resulted in nothing but the shake of the referee’s head left a bitter taste in the mouth – albeit that Basford were the best side that Church had faced this season so far. But the response that the home side produced in the second forty-five minutes after falling two behind at the break said a lot about the character in the side in their first significant test of adversity so far this season.
Basford looked a well organised and physically fit side, and in the first period, this created some problems for the home side, although on occasions they squandered good possession with wayward shooting from distance.
Two opportunistic finishes proved to be the difference as Liam Hearn produced a brace of goals to seemingly put the visitors in the driving seat.
Firstly on 21, he latched onto a defence splitting through ball, possibly avoiding an offside decision that could easily have been awarded, and slotted past the exposed Keranovic with venom and accuracy.
And then on 29, with Ashley Carter off the pitch receiving treatment for a ball in the face, a punted ball from the back bounced wickedly in the heart of the Church defence, bounced out of reach of Willets and landed kindly for Hearn to finish from the edge of the box.
In between, Church had gone close when Ashmore drove down the right flank and his ball into the box was touched on and eluded the outstretched boot of March eight yards out.
Church were a different side in the second period, and took the game by the scruff of the neck and would have been well deserving of some sort of positive result from the game.
To be fair, Church peppered the Basford defence with pressure balls, and fully deserved their first break on the hour mark, when good interplay between Botfield and Foster resulted in the latter being clearly fouled inside the Basford box, and another penalty won. Tom Turton hammered the ball in off the underside of the bar to spur the home side into renewed efforts on Basford’s pitch perfect record.
On 62 a Dubidat cross is spectacularly back-heeled by March on the run, and the ball runs agonisingly wide of the unguarded far post. Three minutes later March threaded the ball through for Foster who forces a desperate vlearance off the Basford line.
It is really good pressure from Church, and the home side should have been level on 76 when a superb turn and shot from March from the edge of the box was somehow reached and touched over by the back-pedalling keeper Deeney.
The announced four minutes of stoppage time started and ended in controversy and incredulity.
The first two were in fact spent in inactivity, as Danny Dubidat received treatment inside the Basford box after Carr had made a clearance through him with a challenge that could have easily have been interpreted as reckless and incurred a penalty decision. Dubidat was incredulous when he got to his feet and realised that the game would re-commence with a Basford free kick.
And the dying seconds produced the major moment of incredulity across the whole ground, and Ashmore whipped the ball in from wide right across the face of the six yard box, and Dubidat was almost certainly impeded as he attempted to make contact and steer the ball into an empty net from close range.