Stow made it two wins from two in the league, but were made to graft for it against a Basildon United who controlled long periods of the game, but lacked a killer instinct.
The opening quarter of an hour was pretty uneventful, with Basildon spending most of it passing the ball across their back line, and Stow allowing them to do so. But after a while, the home side began to find space, and created their first meaningful chance when Samir Ali was played through on goal. However, Matt Nolan was out quickly and smothered the attacker.
But the breakthrough came a couple of minutes later. A cut back across goal was fired on target by Callum Burkey and despite Nolan and J’Ardell Stirling’s best efforts, the ball found its way into the back of the net.
The goal woke Stow up, and could have levelled instantly when Jared Small played Callum Ibe through, but the Stow forward couldn’t quite get the ball from under his feet when one-on-one with George Marsh. It mattered little though, as Duncan Culley drew Stow level with a goal of the season contender out of absolutely nothing. Evans Empochontsif, who ended last season with Stow, could only head away straight into the stride of Culley, who drilled a first-time shot straight into the top corner from 40 yards.
Stow came out for the second half with a bit of renewed enthusiasm and were soon ahead for the first time. George Ironton picked up a loose ball in midfield and played a first-time pass to Ibe, 40 yards from goal. In truth, Ibe’s first touch let him down, with the ball ballooning up, but this allowed him to play a first-time hooked pass over the Basildon defence and right onto Demaray Anyadike’s right boot. There’s no way Ibe could have known where exactly Anyadike was, but Ibe relied on pure instinct and the expectation that Anyadike would have made a surging run towards goal. The Stow winger’s first touch was perfect, bringing the ball down and allowing him to drill a perfect shot past the hapless Marsh.
But all of Stow’s hard work to start the half was quickly undone when Marty Gage equalised for Basildon three minutes later. Stow had struggled against Basildon’s wide play all afternoon, and that proved to be the case again as Ali drove towards goal and cut back for a simple tap-in from Gage.
Nolan then saved brilliantly from Ali one-on-one, and had to be alert to block another tap-in from a cut-back. But somewhat against the run of play, Stow took the lead again. A deep free kick from Carl Mensah found Small, who picked up the ball and curled in a low, hard shot from the corner of the penalty area. The curling daisy-cutter somehow managed to pass through a sea of legs untouched, and nestled in the bottom left-hand corner of Marsh’s goal.
A change of shape from Stow then nullified Basildon’s threat on the wings, and Nicky Ironton’s side rode out the last half-hour with little threat. In truth Stow could have won by more; Anyadike shot over when well-placed twice, and Tamas Amgbaduba also drilled an effort over from the edge of the box.
But there was one last chance for Basildon. Ali crept onto the end of a long ball with 93 minutes played, but he couldn’t quite get the ball under control, and in the end it ran out for a goal kick.
The victory lifts Stow to fifth in the table, with a game in hand on everyone else after Saturday’s abandonment against Witham Town. They now travel to Bedford Town in the FA Cup.