Rylands Way, 26th August 2008
Wootton Bassett Town manager Dave Turner made sure his troops got his message after a poor showing led to Hardwicke running out comfortable 2-0 winners by reading them the riot act for the best part of half an hour following the game.
Two avoidable goals midway through the first half did for Bassett, but that was merely the tip of the iceberg as they struggled to string a set of meaningful passes together all night and were even taking digs at each other.
The night almost got off to a perfect start as Tom Richie's long range drive was blocked by Craig Beaton on the edge of the box, but the ball fell straight to Ryan Banks, who had just the 'keeper to beat. However, despite having plenty of time, he hurried his shot, smashing it wide of the right post.
Until deep into the second half that was the best it got in front of goal for the hosts. And at the other end it was a different matter as Hardwicke's direct – but effective – style of play created numerous problems.
On eight minutes Carl Brown latched onto Richard James' flick on before comfortably going past Shaun Carter in the left corner. When he reached the byline he attempted to cut the ball back across goal, however a brilliant saving tackle from Richie Carter prevented one of his teammates from turning the ball in.
For the first goal the Gloucestershire side did not need anyone lurking inside the box to help the ball home even though it came from an extremely dubious free kick on the left touchline midway inside Bassett's half.
Instead, Paul Carter's ball was left by Chris Oram, who was expecting to hear a call from Stewart Thompson, even though he could have easily dealt with it himself. The ball was therefore left to hit the right post before crossing the line.
Three minutes later and the lead was doubled. Debutant Sean Bailey was forced inside from the right wing to cover for Richie and Banks, who were caught high up the pitch. This left a gaping hole on the left, which was duly taken advantage of.
The ball was spread out wide to Carter, who whipped in a perfect cross with his right foot and Robert Hine – who certainly doesn't qualify as small – was able to get free inside the box and head firmly home at the far post.
Hardwicke thoroughly deserved their lead, and not just because of how their opponents were playing. They kept their hosts in check with brick wall-like defending. Every time play broke down for them, they would immediately revert to placing eleven men behind the ball, with two solid banks of four behind the front two.
And Bassett had no tricks up their sleeve to break it down. Instead of being patient with their build up play, passes were forced into holes that weren't there and possession squandered.
The only real hope they had of scoring once behind came six minutes from the end as Richie Carter drilled a first time effort onto the left post after good hold up play by Scott Ward in the left corner.
And with a two goal deficit to overcome, even if the ball had found the back of the net instead of the post, it would likely have been too little too late to salvage anything from a disappointing evening.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Sean Bailey – displayed a superb work ethic on his debut and appeared to be the only midfielder capable of creating anything meaningful for the two forwards.
Scoop Rating: 4/10 – it certainly wasn't a performance to remember with two forgettable goals conceded and a distinct lack of creativity on display.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38