Fleet’s run of ill luck continued as they fell to a first-half Shaun McAuley goal, a 35-yard free-kick strike from distance over Preston Edwards’ head.
The visitors’ – with Tommy Fraser, Matt Johnson and Billy Bricknell drafted in – saw their recent goal famine extended as they couldn’t find a reply, though the woodwork intervened on three occasions, as Fleet fell to their second away defeat in succession.
With a change enforced on Steve Brown through Michael Corcoran’s injury, he also left Charlie Sheringham and Alex Osborn on the bench after two blank 90 minutes in a row. And Fleet started brightly, with Fraser and Bricknell determined to see their respective recalls to the side stick in the manager’s mind.
But gradually Basingstoke, who have had a decent start to the season including a 3-0 win at Bromley, began to get into their stride. In a spell which saw several corners, Daryl McMahon was forced to clear Jay Gasson’s header off the line while Chris Flood and David Ray both had half chances.
Matt Godden grazed the post with an effort, though the home side had men on the line while goalkeeper Simon Moore easily dealt with an Anthony Acheampong shot. Fraser and Bricknell continued to be full of effort and the latter planted a header onto the bar from Anthony Cook’s cross on 20 minutes.
But from that let-off, the hosts capitalised three minutes later when McAuley let fly with a free-kick that carried in the wind and looped over Preston Edwards and into the back of the net. Fleet struggled to mount a response and old boy Liam Enver-Marum could have inflicted more damage with a mishit shot that went wide.
Four minutes before half-time Moore had some work to do in the home goal, tipping over Johnson’s hastily-hit shot, but that was as much as the Fleet managed before the whistle.
The visitors claimed a penalty shortly after the restart with Bricknell felled by Manny Williams on the line, but the referee waved away protests that the foul was committed inside the box. Basingstoke had their own half-hearted penalty appeal minutes later when McAuley’s shot cannoned off Kenny Clark, but it was hardly handball.
McMahon fired one over as Fleet started to clamp down in midfield and then on 71 minutes Bricknell again saw a goal denied by the woodwork as he smacked a shot against the bar. Brown introduced Sheringham for Fraser after that as Fleet went in search of a late equaliser to match the one they’d scored here a year ago.
There was some late pressure applied by the visitors as Basingstoke began to look a little nervy and both Cook and Johnson saw shots saved, but time was against the Fleet and they slipped to a second away defeat and a third game without that elusive goal.
TEAM: Edwards, Sessegnon (Huke 63), Howe, McMahon, Acheampong, Clark, Johnson, Fraser (Sheringham 77), Bricknell, Godden, Cook. Subs: Hall, Rance, Osborn