T Moore, L Stoddart
Rylands Way, 9th February 2008
It is often held in football that keeping things simple is the best policy in order to gain a victory. Wootton Bassett Town's performance in a 2-1 victory against table topping Easington Sports was perfect proof of the above mantra.
Both their goals were of the ugly, yet often effective, 'route one' variety. The presence of Neil Matthews was key in both as his flick-ons caused all sorts of problems for the visitors at the back.
Three minutes in he helped on a long kick up-field from 'keeper Sean Purcell. Terry Moore gambled on winning the ball and did so, before shrugging off his man and coolly slotting home from 12 yards for his first goal for his latest club.
Two minutes later Steve Yeardley had the chance to double the lead but volleyed wide from 18 yards after the ball had been headed down to him by Rich Willis.
The debutant Willis, beginning his second spell with the club, played a more instrumental role at the other end, marking Easington's leading marksman Ricky Johnson out of the game; the lanky forward couldn't even a muster a single effort at goal.
However, his strike partner Mike Spaull was allowed a little more freedom and provided the equaliser six minutes before the break, guiding James Hastie's perfectly placed free kick into the bottom right corner from an awkward angle after breaking away from marker Rich Gee.
Coming into the game, Easington were the league's second top scorers. But Bassett were the more creative side in front of goal, creating all bar one of the second's half best chances.
Six minutes after the restart Richie Saunders, headed wide at the front post whilst unmarked from a cross from right back Yeardley.
His shift out of the centre of defence certainly brought the best out of him because his favoured style of play – driving forward with the ball at his feet – was allowed more.
Three minutes later a surging John Magani run down the left split the defence.He crossed low and the ball appeared to hit a defender's hand before squirming to Richie Saunders on the edge of the box.
'Keeper John Okole alertly closed the ball down and blocked his shot, but the rebound fell to Yeardley just outside the box. He shot low past Okole but the ball was hacked off the line.
Saunders then forced a low save from Okole after firing on the turn from 15 yards after a well weighted Yeardley chip pass.
Then 67 minutes in, Lee Stoddart pounced on a weak back-pass from Hastie, rounded Okole but fired wide from an angle.
It looked as though Bassett were going to be frustrated by missed opportunities again. However, six minutes later they were ahead.
Purcell pumped the ball upfield again, Matthews flicked it on for Magani, who shrugged off Niall Higgins and crossed just before reaching the by-line. The ball sailed over Okole and Stoddart dived in to provide the finishing touch at the left post.
A late scare was provided when Spaull fired into the side netting after getting goalside of Willis following James Standen's chipped ball with four minutes to go but for once it was to be Bassett's day.
Substitute Phil Tearle could have made it three when Stoddart helped the ball forward, putting the youngster in behind the defence. However, he struck wide from the edge of the area after good work getting back from Hastie to apply much needed pressure. A third wasn't needed though.
It is fair to say Paul Burke's side have underachieved throughout this season. Yet Saturday was a fine example of what they are capable of.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Rich Willis – it was great to see him back at Rylands Way after a 2 ½ year absence and he provided a dominant presence. Keeping Johnson quiet was the key to the game because, when given space, the forward is more than lethal. Willis dealt with everything perfectly, meaning Sean Purcell was allowed a relatively quiet day.
Scoop Rating: 9/10 – a fantastic performance that shows what this group of players is certainly capable of. The whole team worked together brilliantly and two forced substitutions – after Moore and Paul Crabtree had picked up knocks – didn't hinder this. It wasn't just three points gained from this game, but a bucket full of confidence too.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
T Moore, L Stoddart