A gripping final day of the Evo-Stik League season saw the Peacocks win 2-1 at Basingstoke Town yesterday afternoon (27th April). However the result ultimately proved in vain as Weymouth beat Farnborough 3-0 to maintain their one point advantage over Town to secure the title and end a thrilling championship race.
After a quiet start to a game which was affected by a gusting wind throughout, the hosts missed a good chance to take the lead on the quarter hour when Sam Deadfield fired wide of the target after being set up by Ben Wright. The Peacocks responded by taking the lead on 18 minutes, Rocky Neal getting to his feet after being caught by Wright to steer home from the penalty spot for his 36th goal of the season. Neal came near to adding to his tally before the break, lobbing just over after latching onto Ed Palmer’s clearance and then forcing Tom McGill to turn his drive onto the outside of the post. Matt Wright’s header was also kept out by Dean Stow’s goalline block at the end of the first half as Town held a deserved lead at the break.
Roared on by a large travelling support, the Peacocks doubled their lead six minutes into the second half following good work down the left, Dan Sullivan clipping a pass to Ryan Brett inside the box and his half volley beat McGill to find the far corner. Fighting for their place in the Premier, Basingstoke pressed, with Lloyd Irish saving well from a Dan Bayliss header before they reduced the arrears on 68 minutes when the lively Sam Smart broke down the right and his cross was directed in by Wright. The Peacocks found themselves under pressure for a while before Neal made space to drill a shot against the bar and Wright’s header was kept out by Dan Bayliss. The whistle secured Town’s 26th victory of the campaign, the highest number in the Southern Premier South whilst also confirming Basingstoke’s relegation after results elsewhere went against them. The Peacocks now prepare for the Semi-Finals of the Play-Offs this coming Wednesday (1st May) when Poole Town come to the Viridor Stadium, kick-off 7.45pm.
Head of Football Rob Dray remarked:”We kept our side of the bargain with a fantastic win in terrible conditions. The away support was fantastic yesterday and made a huge difference. I’m incredibly proud of a great season so far, in particular the most wins in the division, but we press reset, have a brief period of reflection and then get back on it for Wednesday.”