Rylands Way, 18th September 2007
Three ties, two major upsets: it was one hell of a cup run, which brought a level of excitement Rylands Way has not seen in years. The run included two of the most satisfying, and arguably best, wins in the history of Wootton Bassett Town. One against local rivals Highworth Town, the other against Southern League Division One side Bracknell Town – a huge scalp.
Saturday's opening tie at Brockenhurst was yet another confidence builder: a 1-1 draw against another side who ply their trade at a higher level. If we could hold them at their place, surely we could get another great result in the replay! And get Maidenhead United, a Conference South side, in the next round – at home!
It wasn't to be. The Wessex Premier side left their mark with an emphatic 5-1 victory on the back of four goals inside a six minute spell midway through the first half. It was heartbreaking and gut-wrenching to watch. How could Saturday's combative display turn deteriorate into this?
The scoring started 19 minutes in: a low free kick from Darren Crook deflected off the four man Bassett wall, wrong-footing Sean Purcell in the process, and ended up in the bottom right corner.
Two minutes later the second came. Simon Young mis-hit a free kick from just inside his own half but no Bassett player was able to intercept, leaving Ben Kneller to pick up the loose ball. He played a quick through ball to Crook, who slotted home into the bottom right corner from 12 yards.
He didn't stop there, adding a third within a minute. Stu Hemsley was dispossessed in the centre of midfield and Crook found himself on the end of a long punt up field and poked the ball past an oncoming Purcell from 18 yards.
The dagger was twisted further into the heart of Bassett with the fourth 25 minutes in. The visitors broke quickly and Kneller rode three challenges in the right corner before laying the ball into the path of defender Young. He, coolly as you like, side-footed the ball past a helpless Purcell from 15 yards.
Things went from awful to even worse as Paul Patel was forced off through injury as he tried chasing Kneller down in vain; Richie Saunders coming on as replacement.
Bassett searched for at least one goal before the break. In the 39th minute, John Magani worked his magic before pulling the ball back for Dennis King. The Irishman struck hard and low from 12 yards but Rob Vine parried straight back at the forward. The second bite of the cherry was met with a similar result but this time the Hampshire side were able to clear the lines following the save.
A 15-yarder header from King, after a Scott Large cross, then narrowly avoided the target before Saunders and Large both just failed to find the target after creating chances for themselves.
Immediately after the restart, Bassett reduced the deficit to three as King struck within twenty seconds of the referee's whistle. A superb tackle 30 yards out was quickly followed by a ferocious strike, which whistled past Vine and swerved into the bottom left corner. It was the type of goal that is meant to win a cup tie, yet this one had a largely academic effect.
King appeared to be on a one man mission though to try and salvage something from the game. His flick on just after the hour from a Martin Thompson throw was headed by Hemsley straight at Vine from six yards.
Nine minutes later King rolled his man, opening up a shooting lane but he fired with his left foot comfortably at Vine.
With 17 minutes remaining the final Brockenhurst goal came. Mark Clothier's ball across the box was not cleared and substitute Chris Marwood fired home whilst unmarked at the far post.
Still King went at the game with a burning desire. His cross from the right touchline was met by Hemsley at the far post but he headed across goal after rising high above his marker. King then flew into a tackle to try to win the loose ball and was booked for his efforts.
No further chances came to Bassett though. In fact the visitors had a chance at a sixth when Luke Ansell found himself with only Purcell to beat after a Rich Gee slip but Purcell parried at his feet.
It was a terrible end to a superb cup run – a run the players should still feel proud of. It was a treat to be a part of the world's greatest cup competition for so long, now matters turn back to the league after the Vase game Saturday.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Dennis King – never gave up, chasing down every ball and throwing his body around with little regard for his own health. Scored a cracker of a goal and didn't deserve to be on the losing side.
Scoop Rating: 3/10 – it's hard to explain how things went so far downhill after Saturday's performance. After the first two goals went in, heads dropped instantly and it all spiralled out of control from there. Two upsets in three ties though is an accomplishment to be proud of.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38