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Non-league: Bashley stun Somerset rivals to bag second league success
“Beat by a village, you’re getting beat by a village...”
More than 300 people regularly made their way to Bashley Road as the little club from the New Forest amassed a record number of points while winning Southern South & West before marching straight into the Premier Division play-offs 12 months later.
Whenever punch-drunk opponents hit the canvas, they knew which song was coming but all that now seems a very long time ago.
With their mix-and-match side of rookies and untried players rock bottom of the league with five points, Bashley’s much smaller brethren have had precious few opportunities to exercise their vocal cords this season.
But while it might not have been as loud or well-rehearsed as past efforts, the old classic still had the same gusto when Bash stunned Somerset rivals Frome Town with a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
The joy, unbridled. The pride, immeasurable.
Prior to the match, there was a quiet confidence among the Bash faithful. Was this their lucky day?
It would have to be. Adam Flint was suspended, while Jack Odam, Dave Marden, Declan Edwards and new signing Warren Kenna were all sidelined. Evergreen boss and club legend Paul Gazzard, 38 years young, dusted off the boots once more.
But despite being anchored to the foot of the table, Bash had taken more points on the road than Frome had at home and it was not hard to see why.
Bash had the better of a scruffy opening half without looking like breaching their hosts’ unrefined defence.
Lewis Blackmore’s daisy-cutter drifted agonisingly wide of the far post, while Manny Soetan rippled the side-netting after catching out Frome custodian Darren Chitty with a quick free kick.
The feeling was that such profligacy would come back to bite Bash against a rugged, direct home team but the fears proved unfounded when livewire Jack Satterley threaded Soetan down the left to cross for debutant Charlie Davis – the youngster who only switched from Poole Town on Friday – to squeeze home at the far post.
The players, the visiting bench and the eight or so supporters behind the goal all went bonkers.
Bash immediately looked to have been architects of their own downfall when Frome’s Jack Vallis netted from a goalmouth scramble seconds later but were saved by an offside flag.
Despite retreating at an alarming rate, the home side offered nothing in attack and Bash showed them how it was done with a slick breakaway to wrap up the points 10 minutes from time.
The enigmatic Soetan burst forward and played a swift one-two with frontrunner Joyce before rounding Chitty and lofting his finish towards the empty goal.
For a split second, the whole ground stood open-mouthed as the ball floated towards the crossbar before dipping and nestling in the net at the last.
Never a team to do things the easy way, Bash conceded a minute into added time when Ricky Hulbert netted the rebound from Nic Jones’s point-blank save.
And with the final seconds ebbing away, hearts were in mouths once more when Aaron Ledgister’s cross found Hulbert to steer fractionally wide with a close range header. The chance went begging and so did Frome’s hopes of snatching a dramatic and undeserved point.
Bash celebrated like they had won the title as Jones ran the length of the pitch to embrace the faithful followers.
And so the song started... On the back of this display, they might just get to sing it a little more often.
Bash: Jones, Colson, Roberts, Strickland, Gazzard, Morris, Blackmore, Soetan, Joyce (Brookes, 84), Davis, Satterley. Unused subs: Edwards, Keeler, George (g/k).
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