Rylands Way, 19th February 2008
So far this campaign, Wootton Bassett Town have played a total of 19 games in the league, 15 remain. In all cup competitions combined they have participated in five less contests, and finally their run has come to a finish.
Cheltenham Saracens were the team who brought the curtain down on Bassett's cup extravaganza with a 4-1 victory in the SBJ Challenge Cup quarter final, thanks to a hat trick from Andrew Sherlock.
Four of the game's five goals came during the second period, which was played amidst a layer of fog as thick as the world is round. Conditions bordered the dangerous, yet some in the Bassett camp will be glad the game got played so that something can be salvaged from a league campaign that has faltered and stalled and never got going again.
After Sean Purcell had blocked a Ryan Oldham shot at the forward's feet in the opening minutes, the visitors had to wait until just before the half hour mark to open the scoring. And they were helped by some generous defending from Bassett.
Luke Tovey whipped a cross in from the left touchline and an unmarked Sherlock placed a volley into the bottom left corner.
The conditions were already wreaking havoc in the opening 45 minutes. Two minutes after going head, Sherlock struck a free kick from 25 yards that awkwardly bounced in front of Purcell, who could only bat the ball away. The rebound though was poked wide from close range.
Lack of intervention from assistant referee Mel Carter helped Sherlock out for his second midway through the second period. Tovey was set free, despite being clearly offside, and only a well timed challenge from Steve Yeardley prevented him from scoring.
The ball though fell right into the path of Sherlock and he made no mistake with a curling effort from 18-yards that found the top left corner.
With 73 minutes on the clock, the lead was further extended after a swift move down the left between Sherlock and Ryan Oldham culminated in Karl Griffiths tapping in at the far right post following Oldham's low cross across goal from the byline.
To Bassett's credit though, they kept searching for something from the game. Two minutes after the third went in, Stu Hemsley saw his 20-yard volley get deflected just wide after Paul Patel's corner was only half cleared to the midfielder waiting on the edge of the box.
Then a Patel free kick was helped on by Neil Matthews to substitute Terry Moore. The forward threw his body at the ball but saw his first time effort go just over.
Sherlock finally completed his hat trick six minutes from time, slotting coolly beneath Purcell after a ball in from the left before Bassett grabbed a consolation.
Lee Stoddart did a great job holding up the ball with his back to goal in order to bring others into play, and a darting run into the box from fellow sub Graeme Little resulted in the midfielder scoring with the easiest of tap ins.
Yeardley had the chance to grab a second in the dying seconds after Bassett were awarded a penalty following a handball. However, Ryan Betteridge saved low to his left as the Bassett skipper failed to convert from twelve yards for the first time in his career.
The final whistle followed shortly after, a whistle that finally meant Bassett could focus solely on preserving their Hellenic League status.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Lee Morse – no player really shone in the fog, but Morse was his usual dependable self. He committed himself to some brave challenges and his distribution was faultless yet again.
Scoop Rating: 5.5/10 – the result seemed a bit harsh on Bassett in the end, but the second goal really killed Bassett off. Chances in front of goal were limited and the defence was exposed again when the game had to be chased, but overall the performance was an improvement, despite the score, on the one at Cricklade.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38