Despite twice taking the lead, a depleted Wimborne were dumped out of the FA Trophy at the first time of asking at a bitterly cold Camrose Ground.
Manager Matty Holmes made one change to his starting line-up – fit again Curtis Young replacing unavailable Paddy Hester. But without 8 of his small squad, his options from the bench were limited.
It was the home side who made the early running. Ben Wright sending a curler just over in the second minute before Gerard Benfield needed two attempts to grab a low shot. However, it was the visitors who took the lead on 12 minutes. Young charged down Dean Stow’s attempted clearance wide on the left. Toby Holmes muscled a defender out of the way as he kept the ball in play on the by-line, and beat keeper Colm Mcadden from a seemingly impossible angle.
The Dragons struck back on 20 minutes. The experienced Sam Argent seized on a long ball over the top down the left, turned Matt Oldring, and, with no cover, expertly slipped the ball past Benfield to equalise.
Two minutes later the Magpies were back in front. Jordan Lee sent a perfectly weighted ball beyond Basingstoke’s back-line down the inside-right channel. Toby galloped towards goal before beating Mcadden with a trade-mark finish. That was three goals in a hectic first quarter of the game.
Benfield made a brave save to take the ball off Argent’s toes before the home side equalised again on 35 minutes. The ball was moved across from right to left where Wright found himself unmarked 15 yards out, and he picked his spot to net in the far corner.
Benfield saved his defence when winning the race to an under-hit back pass, but even he couldn’t prevent the Dragons taking the lead just two minutes later. The visitors gave the ball away wide on the right, and Wright’s low cross was turned in by Argent in the 6-yard area.
There was still more goalmouth incident to keep spectators glued to the action before that warming half-time cuppa beckoned. Young’s lob from the left beat the keeper but came back off the inside of the post on 42 minutes, and Benfield saved his side with a last-ditch tackle after the ball had once more been needlessly given away.
From the re-start, Jack McKnight tried to catch Benfield unawares, but the big keeper back-peddled to catch the ball under the bar. Two minutes later the visitors came close to equalising. Toby Holmes met Franklyn Clarke’s cross from the right and his header hit the outside of the post with the keeper beaten.
With both sides playing enterprising football, more chances were inevitable. Toby shot over when put through, and Luke Burbidge’s shot was well-saved after James Stokoe charged through mid-field. The Dragons broke quickly from a Wimborne corner for Wright to shoot inches wide before McKnight tried his luck from distance; Benfield made a good sprawling save from Sam Smart’s shot; and the impressive McKnight slalomed his way through the visitors’ midfield before back-heeling to Smart who shot wide.
After Wright had shot wide following another loose pass, the decisive goal came on 74 minutes. With rain making the surface tricky, Argent slipped the ball through to McKnight in space on the right and he scored from 15 yards.
Burbidge’s lob went over, and Toby was beaten in a foot-race by the keeper as the visitors tried to get back into the game. On 80 minutes referee Small showed Toby a harsh yellow card as the striker chased after an advancing defender and seemingly won the ball with a sliding tackle. But worse was to follow when he showed the same player a red card for alleged dissent after denying the striker a penalty.
Manager Holmes brought on two substitutes with the same initials, Rhys Owen and Robinson Okumu, but the nearest to another goal came on 90 minutes when Oldring cleared off the line.
This was the third away game for Matty Holmes’ depleted “Band of Brothers” in eight days, and, not surprisingly, they looked tired at the end. On the positive side, they’ve scored twice in each game; unfortunately they’ve given away some crucial goals. But it all makes for exciting entertainment.
Graham Dunn reports.