Bassett Road, 8th March 2008
Letcombe boss Des Williams is always seen harking on about sportsmanship and fair play and the last time his side met Wootton Bassett Town in a 3-0 Challenge Cup victory for Paul Burke's side, he complained that Bassett bullied his charges out of the game.
It was therefore a shock to see his side set such a bad example in their 2-1 victory in the return league fixture. They were helped by the fact Phil Tearle and Steve Yeardley were both sent off, but it was his players that played a large part in the dismissal of the former.
Tearle – scorer of all three goals in the cup contest between the sides – entered the game with a target on his back and both Mark Broad and Simon Tabor had digs at him early on with no intention of playing the ball.
24 minutes in he was then rugby tackled to the ground by Sean Webb and the youngster's angry reaction earned himself a booking whilst Webb got away with his cynical challenge.
Only six minutes later he was sent off. Tearle slid in for a challenge with Webb, missing player and ball, yet the defender fell to the floor as if he had been shot. After receiving treatment and seeing the referee produce red, he sauntered off the pitch without any sign of injury and also had a large smile on his face.
Around all this, three goals were scored in the opening period. Richie Saunders put Bassett ahead in the 21st minute, dinking the ball over the oncoming Paul Belcher following a low cross from the right by Chris Mills.
Then, after narrowly heading over, Mark Rees went on to set up Letcombe's first and score what would be the winner.
His inside pass to Paul Roberts enabled the latter to bend the ball into the bottom right corner from the edge of the box before he cut in from the left hand side and fired a low 12-yard effort past Sean Purcell in the 38th minute.
With Bassett chasing the game a man down in the second half, it was no surprise that Purcell's goal came under siege as Bassett committed an extra man from the back forward.
Purcell was forced into a number of good diving saves, preventing two firmly struck Richard Claydon efforts with diving stops, as well as doing well to save an effect that deflected off Tabor, redirecting the ball towards his left side.
At the other end, chances were few and far between, with the closest Bassett got to equalising before the final minute being when Yeardley sent a rising 25-yard drive wide of the right post on 64 minutes.
With two minutes to go he was sent off after cruelly being adjudged to have stamped on Roberts after the Letcombe player had gone through the back of him with a late lunge. Shockingly, no yellow card was produced for Roberts either.
Still, the final minute saw Paul Crabtree presented with a chance to level things up. Saunders' corner was only half cleared, and after taking one touch, Crabtree laced an effort from the edge of the box that narrowly missed finding the top right corner.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Graeme Little – dealt with the game brilliantly at sweeper – not his natural position – after being drafted in due to the numerous players missing. He certainly staked a good claim for keeping his place.
Scoop Rating: 5/10 – It was always going to be an uphill struggle playing with 10 men for an hour, but if the game hadn't have been spoiled by negative Letcombe tactics and obnoxious officiating, the result would likely have been different. For a second placed side, Letcombe did not threaten at all until they received the man advantage.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38