Bashley 4 Paulton Rovers 1: Four second half goals from Bashley’s Jamie Johnston sank Rovers in the wet New Forest as Rovers continued to struggle to get results despite better performances.

Rovers began the game in a bright fashion, buoyed by the return of Wayne Nderemani after his long layoff from injury. Coincidentally, it was in the abandoned game against Bashley at The Winterfield Stadium earlier this season that he’d picked up the issue. It was perfect timing for him to return as Rovers’ were now missing Dan McBeam through injury.

Both teams got early shots in that failed to test the keepers. In the 5th minute, Ed Butcher delivered a free kick to the far post giving Neil Martin a chance at goal but his effort looped over the bar. This was followed in the 10th minute firstly with Wayne Nderemani whipping in a tantalising cross that just evaded the Rovers attack and Ed Butcher picking up the ball and going on one of his trademark pacey runs only to be denied a shot at the last moment by an outstretched Bashley foot.

The hosts came close in the 17th minute when Frankie Phillips was forced into a great save from Jamie Johnston and, after a half chance for Rovers at the other end through Dan Cottle, Phillips had to be sharp again to stop Johnston from another fierce drive.

The half had been very open and Rovers were looking more threatening than they had for some time. There were a number of intricate plays that opened up Bashley mixed up with some longer range passing picking out the wingers. Oliver Sully, coming in on loan from Forest Green Rovers, was working well on the right with his new team mates and in the 37th minute he was involved with a chance that was created for Wayne Nderemani. His shot, from outside the box, was the first to really test Ross Casey in Bashley’s goal and he took it comfortably.

As the half entered added time, Rovers created themselves two half chances. The best of which fell to Jamarni Langlais in the six yard box, but as he struck his shot he was tackled and the ball deflected upwards with all the pace taken off and easy for Ross Casey to hold.

All in all, despite not scoring, Rovers were looking good. They hadn’t lost an early goal which had been an issue for several games and the forward play was making openings. They certainly deserved parity.

As the second half began, the rain started to fall on the already heavy pitch. Josh Crispin replaced Sam Pashen at half-time which meant Wayne Nderemani was asked to fill in at left back as Crispin moved into the midfield. The move stunted some of Rovers attacking play but they still got the first chance of the half in the 50th minute but Langlais was unable to get a meaningful shot away.

As the pitch got zippier in the rain, Bashley began to turn the screw and suddenly Rovers began to look a little nervy at the back. Chances for Bashley’s Jamie Webber and Max Wilcock came and went before Jamie Johnston got his reward for the efforts in the first half. He picked up the ball on the left in the 61st minute and moved into the box, his shot took a deflection that deceived Frankie Phillips and the ball ended up in the net.

It was a blow to Rovers who had been well in the game. Yet again though they found themselves having lost the opening goal and having to chase the game. To make matters worse, just six minutes later, Johnston got his second in almost the exact same fashion.

This time the visitors responded well moments later. Putting together a move not unlike they had in the first half, Josh Crispin played a perfected weighted ball over the Bashley defence to Oliver Sully on the right and he squared the ball for Chris Peck to sweep the ball into the net. It was just what the team needed and they appeared to be back to the first half form.

In the 75th minute, Jamarni Langlais had to be strong to hold off several chances before getting a shot away from tight angle, but the ball hammered into the side netting. It was a short lived resurgence though as two minutes later, Johnston got his hattrick and again scoring from coming in on the left. His first time shot seemed to bobble, again deceiving Phillips.

In the 81st minute, Rovers had a glorious chance to pull one back when Ed Butcher, having swapped to the right, crossed in perfectly for Josh Crispin who did everything right in heading it downwards. But the speed wasn’t there and the ball popped up straight to Casey. Frankie Phillips was smart to stop Eddie Hodge in the 83rd minute before Johnston grabbed his fourth two minutes after.

With Rovers on the attack, Casey made a hasty clearance under pressure. The ball bounced up in midfield and a Bashley player swung his leg out wide and backwards in an attempt to control it but he somehow managed to loop the ball over the onrushing defenders and straight to Johnston who took the fourth with aplomb. He deserved the goal but the luck that led to it is exactly what Rovers aren’t getting at the moment!

The Rovers supporters left the ground not quite knowing what had happened in that second half in a game that seemed very level for 60 minutes. Its not the first time the team has appeared to collapse this season, but this time there were many positives to take too. The return of Wayne Nderemani, the performance of Oliver Sully and the number of chances and style of play will certainly please Kyle Tooze.

Jon Green