Rylands Way, 27th October 2007
What is it about playing sides from a higher level for Paul Burke's side this year? For the fourth time this season, which is a mere two months old, Wootton Bassett Town eliminated such a side as a solitary goal from Phil Tearle saw off Shortwood United.
Games won by a single goal margin at Rylands Way against the Gloucestershire side are commonplace though, this being the fourth game in a row, dating back to the 2002/03 season, that such an encounter has occurred.
However, the three previous times were when Bassett themselves were a Hellenic Premier side and their opponents a mid-table side, rather than a team who progressed to the third qualifying round of the FA Cup.
With the first chance of the game half an hour in – a sign of how stout Bassett's defence was – Bassett grabbed their goal. Stu Hemsley split the Shortwood back four with an inch perfect through ball and Tearle kept his nerve, firing into the bottom left corner with a first time shot from 15-yards.
Moments earlier Bassett felt they had been denied a stonewall penalty after the burly Will Steadman appeared to have felled Hemsley but the referee waved play on. Tearle more than made up for it though.
Ten minutes later Bassett almost produced a second. A Martin Thompson flick on guided Nathan Perkins' corner to the far post, where Steve Yeardley attempted a diving header, but narrowly avoided making contact with the ball.
The visitors created their first two chances in the final five minutes of the first half, but neither amounted to much at all. On both occasions, Bassett failed to clear the lines properly and the ball fell to Jody Taylor. However, he failed to find the target on both occasions, with Perkins deflecting over a 12-yard effort before his second chance went miles wide from 18-yards.
Two minutes into the second period, a poor head clear from Oliver Roberts was pounced upon by Tearle, who found himself one-on-one with Martin Pearce but his attempted lob from 20-yards fell wide.
At the other end, Shortwood continued to be frustrated by a superb, composed defensive display. They could only create a handful of chances, three of which fell to John Embling in the second period, but none of which altered the score.
With 51 minutes gone, Ben Pugh flew by Jonny Aitkenhead in the left corner but sending a low cross. The ball flew across the face of goal, and with Bassett stretched, Shortwood outnumbered their opponents. However – with the best chance of providing the required tap in – Embling failed to connect, despite the goal being presented to him on a plate.
Three minutes later a half clearance fell to him. After chesting the ball down, the defender struck on the bounce from 30 yards, forcing John Haines to make an excellent diving catch to his right.
Moments later Aitkenhead almost doubled Bassett's lead as his cross-come-shot from near enough the halfway line was tipped over by Pearce, who made a bit of a meal of the save.
The extra man in midfield continued to work wonders for Bassett with Tearle operating successfully on his own up front.
The next opportunity for the visitors and Embling came with ten minutes to go as he pealed away from his man following Pugh's corner and headed powerfully towards goal from eight yards. Once again though, Haines pulled off a fine save down low to his left to prevent the equaliser.
In the final minute, Ben Mammola's cross from the deep was headed back across goal by Steadman to Andy Hoskins, but the Shortwood skipper failed to find the target with his headed effort from ten yards, ensuring Bassett's performance received what it deserved.
The hope is this transfers over to their league fixtures. If a top three finish is to be earned, then it is a must.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Martin Thompson – a dominating performance from the veteran centre back. Allowed nothing past him all game and calmly helped to snuff out most of Shortwood's attacks, limiting them to a handful of chances.
Scoop Rating: 9/10 – For the first time in a while, Bassett were superb across the whole pitch. The defence was stout, frustrating the normally goal-happy visitors; the midfield worked great as a unit, linking up well with both defence and attack; and Phil Tearle ran his socks off whilst operating alone up front.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38