Blue Square Bet
Published 3rd May 2012
In front of a very good crowd of 1,691 at the Camrose, Basingstoke Town are still in their tie against Dartford, but they have a lot to do in the second leg on Sunday after going down to a 1-0 defeat.
The home side were a little unlucky to lose the game and were the dominant force for large parts of the game.
But they fell behind crucially in first half stoppage time when the home defence were stretched by Danny Harris and the ball broke for winger Lee Noble, who smashed a terrific 20-yard strike into the corner of the net.
However, `Stoke could and perhaps should have gone to Kent level when, after 68 minutes, Delano Sam-Yorke hammered a low cross that took Darts `keeper Louis Wells out of the game, but Shaun McAuley stabbed the ball wide when it looked harder to miss.
In the other semi-final at Gander Green Lane, 1,255 saw hosts Sutton United go down to a 2-1 defeat to a Welling outfit that looked in good shape throughout the game.
Experienced striker Lee Clarke gave the visiting Wings a 24th minute lead when Dean Cracknell floated a ball across goal and Clarke was there at the back post to fire a header past Kevin Scriven.
The goal was made all the more special for Clarke as he became Welling’s leading goalscorer in the Conference South with forty-two goals, surpassing Andy Pugh’s record.
The home side responded well though, with Harry Beautyman prominent, but in the main Welling reduced Sutton to shooting from long-range.
However, on 65 minutes Sutton burst into life and finally forced Craig Holloway into action on as he tipped Michael Boateng’s deflected shot just wide and from the resulting corner Loick Pires’ deflected clearance crept inches past the post.
With their tales up, Craig Watkins got past Ben Martin under pressure and his cross was diverted in after a mix-up between Joe Parkinson and Holloway, tying the game at 1-1.
But just 4 minutes later, the visitors were back in front when Pires produced a brilliant run from the half way and finding his way to the right hand side of the box. His cross found the sprinting Joe Healy, who deftly flicked the ball into the net to hand the momentum back to the Wings.
Both managers made changes as the final whistle approached with Welling content to get the ball as far away from goal as possible and allow the U’s to come at them and it seemed to work thanks to either the Sutton midfielders wasting a number of good opportunities to put the ball in dangerous areas or magnificent defending from Martin in particular.
Even the home crowd were bemused by the 6 minutes of added time signalled by the referee and Sutton almost made it count as Craig Dundas produced a stunning jinking run, beating four Welling players, but his shot was deflected just wide with half the crowd thinking it had gone in.
After another 4 minutes of tension, the referee blew his whistle and handed Welling a priceless victory going into the return leg at Park View Road on Sunday.