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Two-day turnaround lifts Boro

Two wins in the space of two days suddenly have the Farnborough faithful believing again

Farnborough's Paul Rodgers takes on Basingstoke's Tom Bird

They say a week is a long time in football – but even 48 hours seems like a lifetime at Farnborough FC it seems.

In this very column seven days ago, optimistic boss Spencer Day was urging faithful fans not to panic after three straight defeats threatened to leave Boro’s season in tatters.

Now, after back-to-back wins, while toppling two unbeaten records along the way, there’s a sudden change of mood at Cherrywood Road - and it’s got fans contemplating a bright future ahead.

But it wasn’t so much the results which brought the feelgood factor back to the Paddy Power terraces, more the manner in which they were earned.

Two cracking long-range strikes from midfielder Matt Ball capped a dominant all-round display and a first maximum-point haul of the season at Ryman Premier champions Wealdstone on Saturday.

And that was followed by an impressive display of resilience 48 hours later when two goals right at the death from Dan Bennett and Phil Page help Boro turn the tables on a Basingstoke Town side who could seemingly do no wrong in the higher reaches of the Vanarama South ladder.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Day beamed after his Bank Holiday boost against the local rivals. “It’s great credit to us that we kept going, got the equaliser and then went onto win it. It’s fantastic for the belief in the dressing room to know that if we stick at what we do then it does bring rewards.

“This game can change around so quickly and we’ve not been far away. We knew if we had a good weekend we’d be slap, bang in it and it’s a great weekend which just gets us going, doesn’t it?”

Basingstoke bagged seven goals without reply in two one-sided derby encounters last term and were clearly in the mood to inflict more agony in the early stages, oozing confidence with ex-Aldershot man Louie Soares and Liam Enver-Marum, twice, going close to capping a fast start with a goal.

But buoyed themselves by their victory at St George’s Stadium, Farnborough were no sitting ducks and went even closer to breaking the deadlock when Ball twisted and turned inside former Boro defender Jay Gasson in the area before unleashing a 15-yard effort which cannoned off the top of the crossbar.

Basingstoke’s pressure, however finally told on 36 minutes – Ball penalised for a rash lunge on Tom Bird on a skiddy surface and Manny Williams made no mistake from the penalty spot.

A hamstring strain to centre back Darryl Siaw handed a debut to Adam Brice, the former Aldershot Academy captain signed from Woking, and he had a hand in carving out a glorious chance for the lively Page, who blasted an effort inches over from 18 yards.

In truth, Boro rode their luck at the other end with Enver-Marum first forcing a goal-line clearance from Paul Rodgers and then smashing an effort against the top of the crossbar, albeit via a crucial fingertip save from Charlie Grainger.

Day’s response was to throw on Fejiri Okenabirhie and revert to a 4-3-3 – and suddenly Boro looked a greater attacking threat. First, Ball produced a fantastic one-handed save from Moore, while Bennett’s 20-yard effort flew inches wide.

But just when it looked like their late pressure would come to nothing, they got the stroke of luck they richly deserved. A crisp counter attack saw Okenabirhie play in Page, who turned a shot from 20 yards. Moore spilled his effort and Bennett pounced to draw Boro level.

Cue hysteria, but Boro weren’t done yet. In the second minute of time added on, good work again by Bennett across the area drew the defender before playing in the on-rushing Page, who smashed the ball beyond Moore and into the far corner. Comeback complete.

Page might have even added a third moments later with a near-post effort from similar range which hit the side-netting, but the job was done. Although Boro may have exited with dampened clothes from the Bank Holiday downpour, there was no dampened spirits.

Boro (v Basingstoke): Grainger, Rodgers, Tumwa (Okenabirhie 61), Fearn, Siaw (Brice 45), Ferrell, Webb (Taylor 76), Ball, Page, Bennett, Treacher. Subs: Pearse, McAvoy. Att: 370.

 

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