By Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
Bournemouth Poppies suffered a heavy home defeat at the hands of Bashley, who emerged comprehensive 4-1 victors at Victoria Park.
The visitors, who were yet to get the better of Poppies in the previous three encounters this season, dominated the first-half at the Winton-based ground and were rewarded with a three-goal cushion at the interval.
Dan Munday drilled home Bashley’s opener after only six minutes, before Cameron Beard blasted an effort into the roof of the net to pile further pressure on Poppies.
Dan Thompson then cracked an audacious drive inside the far corner on the stroke of half-time, further adding to the home side’s misery in spectacular fashion.
Hugh Dathan’s deflected strike wrapped up Bashley’s comprehensive victory mid-way through the second half, before Harry Cooper netted Poppies’ consolation inside stoppage time.
The Poppies management team opted for an unchanged starting line-up after his side’s 4-2 victory at high-flying Portchester at the weekend.
Veteran winger Fawzi Saadi return to the matchday squad, but was instead named among the substitutes with Ali Zintany and recent signing Dom Falco favoured on the flanks.
Ahead of kick-off at Victoria Park, a moving minute’s silence was held in remembrance of the life of Falco’s late brother, Kevin Peat, who sadly passed away two years ago.
The New Forest-based opponents flew out of the traps in the early stages of the clash, drawing a foul from Chia Khider which saw the full-back receive a caution after just two minutes.
The visitors continued to dominate possession on a slick surface, stringing together a number of flowing moves which regularly troubled the Poppies centre-backs.
On four minutes, Bashley’s Jack Smith lofted a delightful pass over the Poppies backline for Beard to latch on to. But with the angle tightening, the visitors’ frontman could only roll an effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Poppies had started slowly under the floodlights, and were duly punished on eight minutes.
An incisive ball cut through the heart of the Poppies centre-halves, allowing the prolific Munday to race through on goal and coolly slot into the bottom right corner with a deft flick of the right boot.
The home side immediately looked to draw level. Poppies captain Ron Frost lofted a delicate pass over the top for Zintany, but the wideman had slightly mistimed his run before pulling the trigger and was flagged offside.
Munday was involved at the pinnacle of another good move from Bashley on 13 minutes. Lewis Aimson hurtled towards the by-line and drilled an inviting cross across the face of goal, before Munday forced a strong block from a Poppies defender with a powerful drive from close range.
Zintany soon threatened to curl home the equaliser after racing towards the visitors’ penalty area, but narrowly bent an effort wide of the far upright.
Despite the near miss, Bashley continued to control the majority of possession and soon doubled their lead when another pin-point pass was met by Beard. The frontman calmly flashed a strike beyond Jones.
A corner kick from the visitors caused more trouble inside the Poppies penalty area. The lofted delivery was glanced across goal by Aimson, but Munday could only hook his attempt over the crossbar from a couple of yards out.
Poppies stalwart Frost almost showcased his prowess in dead-ball situations once again on 25 minutes. The skipper’s corner kick appeared destined to loop inside the near post, before Bashley goalkeeper Calum Ward punched clear under heavy pressure.
The following corner from Frost was then controlled superbly by Falco 12 yards from goal, but the winger couldn’t divert his effort towards goal.
The home side almost halved the deficit in spectacular fashion seven minutes before the half-time break. River Smith, who had recently slammed home Poppies’ clincher in the Bournemouth Senior Cup final, was almost the hero once again – but saw an audacious lob acrobatically hacked off the line by the backtracking Thompson.
Thompson then spectacularly rounded off Bashley’s first-half blitz. The towering defender collected possession 35 yards from goal, before unleashing an unstoppable drive that flashed beyond Jones, cracked against the inside of the post, and nestled in the back of the net.
At the half-time break, Saadi was introduced in place of Frost. The ex-AFC Bournemouth man was immediately involved in the action on 47 minutes, although his corner kick was narrowly diverted wide of the far post by Chris Speers.
Saadi’s back pass minutes later was then mis-controlled by Jones, although the Poppies shot stopper was able to recover before Munday could pounce in front of the empty net.
On 54 minutes, Munday breezed beyond the attentions of Manny Ohameje but had the ball stolen from his feet in the nick of time after Speers’ superb sliding challenge denied a shooting opportunity.
After Nasim Meddah replaced Falco, Munday once again squandered the chance to net a double. Another dangerous through ball was slid through to the Bashley ace, whose powerful strike stung the palms of Jones before being cleared.
Bashley soon found their fourth, however. Dathan was allowed to strike at goal unchallenged from distance, and the effort looped horribly in the air before drifting beyond Jones.
The home side almost recorded a consolation on 66 minutes, but Cooper’s diving header from Saadi’s inviting free-kick failed to trouble visiting shot stopper Ward.
Substitute Meddah then almost gifted Bashley a fifth on the counter-attack. The winger could only present possession to Beard on the edge of the penalty area, who raced forward and squared for Munday. The striker blasted over the crossbar from six yards, however.
Cooper threatened the Bashley goalmouth once again on 72 minutes, but his drive from 12 yards was comfortably fielded by Ward.
Beard and Munday came close to tucking home the visitors’ fifth – the former forcing Jones to parry a powerful drive away, before the latter fired high over the crossbar inside the six-yard box.
The home side ensured they had a spot on the score sheet in the first minute of added time, Cooper blasting home at the near post. The goal proved a mere consolation, however, and Poppies’ heavy defeat was confirmed at the full-time whistle soon after.
Poppies: Jones, Khider, Ohameje, Speers, Aldhayan, Zintany (Stacey, 66), Cooper, Frost (Saadi, 45), Falco (Meddah, 58), Smith, Flynn
Unused subs: Roushbaiani, Cullen