Saturday, 1 December 2018

01/12/18 Review: Basford United vs Scarborough Athletic

Basford United 3-1 Scarborough Athletic (Evo-Stik Premier Division)
Greenwich Avenue

With a rare free Saturday afternoon in my arsenal today I was given the chance to go along to see what northern Nottingham had to offer in what would be my first Evo-Stik match of the season and a fifteenth new ground for 2018/19. I've gone on record before and stated that the Evo-Stik leagues are the best around, with a constantly improving standard of football, some of the country's best grounds and great groups of fans- today's match between 6th place and 1st in the Premier Division certainly produced a cracking game for the neutrals at Basford United's Greenwich Avenue.

Here we go again

This would be my third time watching both of these sides and up until today I had not seen much success for either team, which is surprising as both have been on the rise in the past year. In the early days of my Blogging, I saw Scarborough Athletic draw 0-0 with Glossop North End at my hometown ground in Bridlington, in perhaps what still remains to this day the worst match I've ever seen. In that same season I also visited Warrington Town, who claimed a 1-0 win over the Seadogs, so this third game for me watching Scarborough would continue the trend for me as I am yet to go up to their new ground- which is very much on my radar for this season. Basford's form under my watching eye had been even worse, starting back in 2016 when I went down to see them get battered 0-5 by Coalville Town in a playoff semi-final. Almost a year on from that, I watched United at one of my local grounds and they left Kidsgrove Athletic's Novus Stadium with no points in a 1-2 loss. Poor form aside, I'd decided to cheer for the league leaders this time out and I predicted a 3-1 win for the day. Correct score, wrong team!

Look out, the Seadogs are on the comeback
The hosts came into this one in sizzling form, with six wins in seven that included a shock victory against National League North side Curzon Ashton, but with the top team in the league visiting they knew that they would have to be at their best for arguably their biggest test of the season so far. Their Yorkshire coast opposition had already beaten them in the league this season, also by a scoreline of 3-1, and despite having lost two of their last three league matches they were still holding off Nantwich Town. I arrived at Greenwich Avenue shortly before kickoff and after grabbing myself a cheeky pint I went over to behind the goal where I would spend the next few minutes listening to some tight old Yorkshire lads talking about their respective problems caused by having the heating on all day. Classic. Shortly after this, we were joined by the two teams and it soon became evident that the Boro fans had travelled in numbers as pockets of the ground started to chant for their side. Kickoff was bob on 3pm and the game was underway.

Up the Seadogs!
Both sides won promotion from their respective league last season and it was clear to see from the off that the standard was going to be high. Within the opening ten minutes the tempo was set and the end-to-end nature of the game on the pitch was being matched by the support of the away fans as they went very close to an opener in the 13th minute as Jack Johnson headed wide. Moments later there was a goal but it was at the other end- Greg Tempest made no mistake as he slotted home with great precision to give his team the lead. Basford 1-0 Scarborough. The visitors were clearly shook up and feeling the pressure from this early goal, with Josh Lacey coming very close to an own goal just minutes later. As United continued to look for a second, I made my way around the ground and although there wasn't too much to say about it aside from it being a bit "portacabin city". Obviously it is a modern facility and the key features for me were the 3G pitch and of course the atmosphere.

One of the smaller Evo-Stik grounds I've visited looked pretty full thanks to the away fans
With half an hour almost gone a slick United attack down the left produced a chance for Nathan Watson and the striker showed a cool head to finish off a very nice passage of play and leave Boro in a bit of a bad way. Basford 2-0 Scarborough. Tempest had run the show so far in my opinion and the home side would continue to utilise the big number 8 in central midfield, meanwhile the Seadogs would be limited to half-chances and they came closes as Jamie Forester whipped a strike just wide of Kieran Preston's post. Sensing the rising queues of disgruntled visitors in the kitchen just before half-time, I quickly jumped in and awaited some chips and gravy. Ooooh yes! Whilst awaiting a guy who'd ordered nine pies (nine!!!) to get his order, I just about saw the next goal right on the stroke of half-time as Michael Coulson's strike was witnessed through the window of the servery. Basford 2-1 Scarborough. Another thing that I couldn't help but notice was the brand of chips being used at Greenwich Avenue- McCain! I wondered whether this was their usual choice of fried potato or if they'd got them in especially in honour of Scarborough's old ground.

Back before Scarborough were Athletic
With the second-half starting just after I'd reemerged from the kitchen, I stood near the corner flag ready for one of the best 45 minute spells of football I can recall for a long time. Scarborough were desperately chasing at least a point from the game and with their assertion at one end, they often looked frail at the other. In the 65th minute they almost imploded when their defence conceded a penalty. Thankfully for the visitors they would be let off as Watson failed to double his tally for the day. This wake-up call for Scarborough wasn't quite strong enough and shortly after they were scrambling again, this time with a United shot being cleared off the line. Up in the Basford half the hosts continued to defend with all of their might and with over a dozen chances being made from Scarborough corners and free-kicks you could smell the tension in the air. The 450+ fans gasped in the final few minutes when substitute Declan Bacon missed an absolute sitter and moments later Nathan Valentine would see a header go close.

A truly superb second-half
With the injury time being calculated, it was time for the big finish here in Basford and the home side would eventually be able to reap the rewards from their solid defensive display. Watson, who could've been celebrating a hat-trick were it not for his woeful penalty, made his final contribution to the game in the 88th minute with a counter attack finish adding his team's deciding third. Basford 3-1 Scarborough. Five minutes extra time were announced soon after this and even this additional time had some drama. Dom Roma, who used to be a Boro boy, left the field a few minutes earlier than the other 21 players after he went in hard with a two-footed lunge which was pretty horrendous and unnecessary. He received some deserved abuse from the fans and was then on his way, but ultimately it made no difference to the remaining minutes of the match and with Nantwich claiming an away win at Whitby it would be an all-round disappointing day for the Seadogs. I didn't stick around too long after the match neither and I hit the road back home knowing that I'd certainly had nine quid's worth of football in a top of the table thriller.

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