P Tearle (3)
Bassett Road, 26th June 2008
A month long stretch of defeats was finally ended by Wootton Bassett Town as they recorded a 3-1 victory over Letcombe to advance to the 3rd round of the Hellenic League Challenge Cup.
And their thanks for this should be paid to a pair of youngsters, who have both been with the club since the age of 10.
Defender Jonny Aitkenhead was the creator of one of the three goals and also featured in a back four that frustrated Letcombe's front line, limiting them to a handful of chances. The other 18 year old who featured more than heavily was forward Phil Tearle – the player who bagged all three of Bassett's goals.
The game kicked to life in the second half after a dull, nondescript first half that featured the referee's whistle basically every other minute, despite it not being an overly physical contest at all.
The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock was 25 minutes in. Letcombe's Simon Tabor played a ball through from the left touchline, which Adam Pendell applied a deft touch to after beating Sean Purcell to the ball six yards out. However, Rich Gee was in the perfect position to slide the ball off the line and away from danger – something the centre back has a knack for doing.
The chances began to appear though after the whistle to begin the second half. Three minutes in Neil Matthews found the bar with a curling left foot shot after neat work by Stu Hemsley and Lee Morse.
Somewhat against the run of play, the hosts took the lead 59 minutes in. Paul Crabtree was disposed of the ball in the middle of the park, allowing David Richardson to send a ball over left back Aitkenhead for Richie Claydon.
The tricky forward forced a parry from Purcell after cutting back onto his left foot before Mark Denny pounced on the loose ball and tapped into an open goal.
This lead lasted all of four minutes though. A superb tackle from Richie Saunders deep in Letcombe's territory set the equaliser up as his resultant through ball set Tearle free to calmly find the top left corner from 15 yards.
His second was then provided by under 18s partner in crime Aitkenhead with 67 minutes gone. The left back showed superb vision: he collected possession on the halfway line, and seeing no viable passing options advanced thirty yards into a gaping hole left in the heart of the Letcombe midfield.
After drawing the attentions of a defender – leaving Tearle alone with a single man – he slipped a perfectly weighted pass through that the forward drilled into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
A double substitution from Letcombe then caused a problem or two for Bassett.
Both Tom Broad and Mark Brind came close to equalising before the game was put to bed; the former firing across goal before the latter glanced a header wide.
Eventually, with four minutes remaining, Tearle rounded off his hat trick. And it was perfect route-one stuff for the build up. Purcell produced a drop kick that he seemed disappointed with, but it fortunately fell to Matthews.
He sent a through ball over the top of the defence for Tearle, who had to adjust slightly to the ball, slowing his progress. But he then easily sidestepped Mark de la Coze before looping the ball into the top right corner from just inside the box.
Saunders had the chance to make it four in the dying minutes but his lob sailed over after another Matthews pass set him free.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Phil Tearle – after starting the game quietly for the first 60 minutes, Tearle really turned it on, producing three composed finishes that were the difference in the game. Richie Saunders was once again immense in the centre of midfield, but it was Tearle's finishing qualities that won the game.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – It wasn't the most exciting game ever, but Bassett defended well and were finally able to produce in front of goal after scoring once in their previous 270 minutes of football. The performance wasn't one that stood out, but more than enough was done to secure a long sought after victory.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
P Tearle (3)