As the rain clouds gathered over the Camrose it was an ominous sign of things to come as Basingstoke were comprehensively outplayed by top of the table Woking.
A bumper crowd of 1200, buoyed by a huge away support from Woking, were looking forward to a game with two teams both near the top of the form table. Woking had won 5 of their last 6 while Basingstoke were looking to win 5 matches on the bounce for the first time in almost 10 years, building on the performance which earned new gaffer Jason Bristow the Manager of the Month award for March.
It would be a former player who would come back to haunt Town, with striker Giuseppe Sole netting a brace against the team he showed so little for on loan only a month ago. An interesting sidenote was the inclusion of Aaron Howe in goal for Woking, the son of Ernie Howe, who was manager of Basingstoke for 13 years from 1993-2006.
In what was expected to be a well contested game it took little over 10 minutes for Woking to break the deadlock. Following some poor defending the ball fell to Sole, who hammered it into the corner from only a few yards out.
Basingstoke continued to be under the cosh as Woking flooded forward with their superb movement and quick passing showing why they are favourites to be promoted to the highest tier of non-league football next season.
Moses Ademola almost added a second when he rattled the crossbar from 25 yards, having been given the time and space to line up his shot.
Sole doubled the lead as he tapped in from 5 yards following a scramble in the Basingstoke box 10 minutes before half time. Sole has been in inspired form in the past few weeks, winning March Player of the Month even before his brace today, leaving Basingstoke fans wondering why he couldn’t replicate his current form during his loan period at the Camrose.
Woking started the second half the better and extended their lead within 10 minutes of the restart, Betsy sliding the ball past Bayes after a nice exchange of passes with Sole. They could have had yet another only a couple of minutes later, as Sole’s effort was well parried by Bayes, who did superbly to prevent Ademola scoring with the follow-up.
Nathan Smart could have pulled one back for Basingstoke but he lacked composure and blasted the ball wide from the edge of the box following head tennis in the Woking box.
Basingstoke’s disappointment was compounded when Stuart Lake was given his marching orders with 10 minutes to go following some sort of altercation after jumping for the ball with Woking defender Mike Cestor.
Cowan-Hall almost made an impact after coming on as he rifled a dipping drive just over the bar from 25 yards with Bayes stranded.
A disappointing display from Basingstoke then that seemed to lack the confidence and desire of recent displays. Woking looked every bit the champions elect and will surely be gracing the Conference Premier next season. Basingstoke are now 4 points from the playoffs with 5 games to go and will need to finish the season strongly if they are to have a chance of sneaking into the final place.
Basingstoke Town: Bayes, Smart, Warner, Rice, Gasson, Lake, Daly, McAuley, Sills, Pratt, Ogunbote. Subs: Old, Little, Adams, Gradwell, Morris.
Woking: Howe, Wilson, Duncan, Murtagh, Inns, McNerney, Hammond, Davis, Ademola, Sole, Betsy. Subs: Cestor, Cowan-Hall, Newton, Binns, Little.
Final Score: Basingstoke 0 – 3 Woking