FA Trophy 1st Round – Att – 206
The hardy fans who ventured to Melksham were rewarded with a good old fashioned cup tie with both sides having the opportunity to make it through to the next round, despite miserable conditions.
It was local lad Luke Ballinger who won the day with a superb finish curled into the top corner, after breaking through the Basingstoke back line in the 40thminute. It brightened the gloom of what was a grim day on a pitch that would easily serve a Football League side.
New signings Harry Rutty and Josh Ford were outstanding at the back in front of returning keeper Jamie Bartlett. Basingstoke brought good support and had good spells of possession but despite winger Ricardo Andrady seeing plenty of the ball, chances were few and far between for the visitors.
Andrady should have scored early on but was denied by a fine close range stop from Bartlett, before Melksham thought they had taken the lead 15 minutes later, when Captain Jack Balls’ sliding finish was ruled out for offside after a clean break from Ballinger.
Basingstoke keeper Chris Rackley did well to save from Liam Monelle midway through the first half, after he cleverly made space to shoot. Ballinger’s skill and trickery through the middle was causing problems and it was no surprise when he moved across the area and curled a stunning right foot shot just inside the post on 40 minutes.
As the wind picked up, Melksham dominated for long periods but Jordan Edwards and Andrady both went close as the sides traded chances and as the conditions worsened.
Basingstoke somehow were denied close to the end of the match, when Jamie Bartlett saved bravely after an almighty scramble in the home six yard box. Melksham saw the game out with composure and a deserved trip into the next round.
Star Man – Harry RUTTY