Bury will not underestimate Basingstoke

BASINGSTOKE Town can count the number of league victories during 2008 on the fingers of one hand.In fact, they would only need three fingers!The Dragons, who stand between Bury Town and a potentially lucrative FA Cup first round tie, were without a league success for nine months until last weekend.

Carl Marston

BASINGSTOKE Town can count the number of league victories during 2008 on the fingers of one hand.

In fact, they would only need three fingers!

The Dragons, who stand between Bury Town and a potentially lucrative FA Cup first round tie, were without a league success for nine months until last weekend.


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The Hampshire side, since winning 2-1 at Maidenhead on January 19, went 26 league games without a win until last Saturday's 2-0 triumph at Bromley. Their only other league triumph this year was against Bognor Regis on January 12.

On the face of it, then, hosts Bury have a tremendous chance of dumping the Blue Square South side out of the Cup in tomorrow's fourth qualifying round tie at Ram Meadow.

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However, Blues boss Richard Wilkins will not be taking Basingstoke likely, especially as his opposite number Frank Gray has been busy recruiting players in the loan market. The Dragons are also renowned as a good cup side.

“We mustn't get too carried away. Basingstoke have a much bigger budget than us,” insisted Wilkins.

“Of course it would be fantastic for a club of our size to make the first round of the FA Cup, but it's still a big ask.

“At least the draw has been favourable to us this season. This will be our fourth home tie, and the highlight was certainly beating Chelmsford (2-1). They are riding high, while Basingstoke are near the bottom of the same division, so people will be thinking that we have a great chance of winning again.

“We have home advantage, which is important, but Basingstoke seem to be signing a lot of players on loan from professional clubs. There's certainly a big gulf in money.

“For us to reach the first round proper and play someone like Leeds would be a dream, but to just win on the day would mean prize money of £12,500, which would be a massive amount of money for Bury Town,” added Wilkins.

Basingstoke boss Gray, who starred for Leeds United during the 1970s with his older brother Eddie, signed his third player on loan from Reading last week - midfielder Tom Hateley. The other two, Ross Kitteridge and Mitchell Bryant, have already made a big impact this season.

In fact, striker Bryant is the club's leading scorer with eight goals, five of then coming from three FA Cup ties. He executed a lob in the win against Hamworthy United, and blasted home a 35-yard shot in the 2-2 draw against Bashley in the third qualifying round. Bryant then scored a hat-trick in the replay (3-0 win).

And last Saturday, Bryant broke the deadlock as the Dragons finally won a league game at the 27th time of asking. They are currently second from bottom, just ahead of Bognor Regis.

Ironically, nine months before they were eyeing up a play-off place after the win at Maidenhead, only to eventually drift downwards into a final position of 15th in the table.

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