Rylands Way, 24th August 2012
Wootton Bassett Town hopefully won't be playing too much longer at Rylands Way. But when the club does move on to pastures new, there's no doubt that they will miss the transformative effect the ground seems to consistently supply to Bassett when faced with a game of magnitude.
More often than not Bassett have risen to the occasion when granted a home tie in the FA Cup. Upset victories against Highworth Town and then-Southern League Bracknell Town saw Paul Burke's team reach the First Qualifying round for the first time in the club's history. Since assuming the hotseat, Dave Turner has tasted similar glory at home with heroic displays resulting in triumphs against Bradford Town and, most recently, Calne Town.
That latter win set up the prospect of a visit from Hamworthy United; a team plying their trade in a league whose sides have constantly had Bassett's number. For the cynics this could mean only one thing: Bassett's elimination.
But that home advantage, the one which has so often seen the hosts fight off the underdog tag, spurred Turner's team onto another stirring victory as Mark Barnes' solitary goal and a colossal team display booked Bassett's passage through.
From the off the home side matched, and bettered in long patches, their Dorset visitors. And an early impression was made on seven minutes. Jack Ellis found space on the right wing, delivering a testing cross that forced ‘keeper Shane Murphy to challenge for the ball near the edge of his box. Under pressure from Barnes he spilled the ball and Bassett's in-form forward was gifted with the easiest of tap-ins.
Rattled, Hamworthy found themselves susceptible to the break and it would have been two on 18 minutes had Barnes been able to get the ball out of his feet and square to Shaun Terry with the visiting defence stretched. Matt Bown then almost doubled the advantage on the half hour. Going for the spectacular, his dipping half volley from in excess of thirty yards had Murphy scrambling and eventually relieved to see the ball sail inches over the bar.
Eventually the visitors were able to settle. For the remainder of the half they looked likeliest to score too. Highly impressive youngster Stefan Penny was pulling the string in the centre of midfield, while forwards Sam Pekun and Liam Murrell both caused problems with their pace and power.
When the latter was scythed down by Craig Bowden on the edge of the area the visitors were afforded a golden opportunity to equalise. Stuart Cannie's firmly struck free kick had James Domm beaten, but the hosts retained their lead as the ball smashed against the bar.
Ellis then had a half chance to extend Bassett's lead, forcing a save from Murphy after a swift counter. But Hamworthy appeared more decisive on the break. Seven minutes before half time Aaron Corby surged down the right, creating enough room so that Matt Bown's sliding tackle could only shift the ball into the path of Pekun. Lurking inside the box, the forward sent a snap shot towards goal that forced a fine parry behind from Domm.
Following the restart Bassett forced Hamworthy onto the back-foot. The quickness with which defence was turned into attack enabled the home side to get in behind the visiting defence. In the 47th minute Bown's delicious cross from the left was met with a powerful Terry header that almost found the bottom corner before the veteran forward saw a powerful effort blocked when a simple square ball to Barnes would have gifted his partner a one-on-one opportunity.
Unable to extend their advantage, there was plenty still to do at the other end. Ceding more and more possession, Bassett were backed up ever deeper in their own half. Luckily, however, imperious defending – particularly from centre half Liam Edmondson – helped limit Hamworthy to two headed efforts, which Ross Hampton-Brown and Murrell both saw narrowly miss the target.
Able to stave off the threat, with less than ten minutes to go Barnes was presented with a perfect chance to kill the game off. An innocuous clearance should have been dealt with by Murphy, but he once again saw the slick ball slip from his clutches on the edge of the area. Bassett's leading scorer hurried his finish though, skewing his first time shot well wide despite the open goal in front of him.
This helped make the game's final moments feel like an eternity. On 85 mintues, patient build up play down the left helped fashion an opening but Hampton-Brown's teasing cross went across the face of goal without the necessary touch. In injury time Domm was forced to parry at Ryan Murray's feet before an unmarked Murrell headed wide from twelve yards.
The final whistle soon brought relief and the sense that a fabulous performance had got its due reward.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Liam Edmondson – a force at the heart of Bassett's rock solid defence. Hamworthy's centre forwards made life tough for Bassett's back line, but they dealt with everything that was thrown at them. Edmondson, in particular, was dominating in the air and seemed not to lose a single tackle.
Scoop Rating: 9/10 – a stirring display that got its reward. Every player – from James Domm in goal to Mark Barnes in attack – put in a shift, working tirelessly and playing some fine football on the way to a memorable FA Cup victory.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38