Richie Saunders (2)
Rylands Way, 22nd December 2007
After weeks of waiting, Wootton Bassett Town finally sealed their passage through to the 2nd round of the SBJ Challenge Cup as they saw off Headington Amateurs 2-1 thanks to two headed goals from the in-form Richie Saunders.
Following numerous postponements it seemed as though the game would never get played. Paul Burke may have been wishing that was the case the way Bassett came out as the visitors stormed to an early sixth minute lead courtesy of Matty Phillips.
A swift counter saw Jamie Mundy play a ball into the right corner for Nathan Clayton, which really stretched the Bassett defence. Clayton played a tidy, low cross into the six yard box and Phillips had the easiest of finishes at the far post.
From there on out though, the hosts were the far more threatening of the two sides. Headington did continue to pose problems on the break – their bread and butter – but never mustered much in front of goal.
Lee Morse was influential in creating chances at the other end and it was his clever pass to Phil Tearle 22 minutes in that opened up Bassett's first chance. However, Tearle curled a 20-yarder just wide following neat work to initiate the move from John Magani.
Two minutes later the diminutive central midfield player was at it again. This time he turned on the ball before picking out Neil Matthews with a perfect cross-field pass. The switch of play put the forward one-on-one with Mark Binderford after the visitors' defence had been sucked over to the left hand side.
Matthews' low drive from 15 yards failed to trouble the 'keeper though, finding only the side netting.
The equaliser eventually came just after the half hour, with the assist from debutant Phil Penning, who began his second spell at Rylands Way with an assured performance.
After beating his man in the right corner, he placed a cross into the danger zone, and Saunders was there to emphatically head home from 10 yards.
The run in to the break then saw a flurry of yellow cards – three to the visitors and one for Matthews, before Magani had a chance to put Bassett ahead on the stroke of half time after a precise ball from Nathan Perkins set him free.
After bearing down on goal, Magani struck a powerful effort from 15-yards but was denied by a fine save from Binderford, who did well even to hold onto the ball.
Within sixty seconds of the restart though Bassett were ahead. Perkins' free kick from the right touchline picked out an unmarked Saunders at the far post, and he sent a looping header over Binderford and into the top right corner.
The remaining 44 minutes produced a litter of bookings as well as more and more chances for hosts. But once again, the inability to kill a game off haunted Bassett.
Neat play by Matthews and Tearle down the left, created a chance for Saunders but he volleyed wide from 15-yards before the midfielder struck just wide after Magani pinched the ball and set him free.
Tearle then had a trio of chances. Firstly, on 66 minutes, he forced Binderford to tip the ball around the post with a shot from an angle. Then with six minutes left he found the bar with a close range effort. The ball wasn't cleared and found its way back to the youngster. He struck from the edge of the area but narrowly missed the target.
Luckily though, the lack of trouble at the other end ensured a place in the second round and a tie with high-flying Letcombe.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Richie Saunders – scored with two fine headers and was always a danger going forward, creating chances for Magani and feeding off of Matthews' great hold-up play.
Scoop Rating: 8/10 – a solid performance all around that deserved victory. However, the game could easily have been killed off but the amount and frequency of chances created must have pleased management. Â¬
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
Richie Saunders (2)