The Avenue Stadium, 22nd September 2012
After fifteen minutes of their FA Cup Second Qualifying round tie away against Dorchester Town, Wootton Bassett Town had a chance to unsettle their Conference South opponents. Trailing following Ben Watson's early strike for the hosts, Matt Bown's incisive through ball and Lee Bowen's diagonal run split the Dorchester defence. From the edge of the area Bowen swept a powerful low drive towards the bottom left corner, ‘keeper Jason Matthews beaten, but missed the target by an inch.
Had Bowen found the back of the net, the course of the game was unlikely to have changed. Those with their money on the home side (whose odds of winning were 1/7 on the eve of the game, compared with 11/1 for a Bassett victory) may have shuffled nervously in their seats. But it would surely have only been a brief moment of unease for the gap in quality between the two teams had been evident from the start.
Dave Turner's team though can be plenty pleased with how they performed against opponents plying their trade four tiers higher. They got the ball down and tried to play football, even though this failed to translate into chances in front of goal. They didn't make things easy for Dorchester – especially in the second half. And, most importantly of all, they ensured they did not get embarrassed. Perhaps the performance could have been slightly better. At times Bassett appeared to rush passes, disregarding short options in favour of trying to exploit the space behind the Dorchester defence, which itself was a consequence of pressure from the hosts, while two first half free kicks in opposition territory were wasted by trying to be too clever.
But this is just a minor criticism, for all who played can hold their heads high. This was a fantastic, historic FA Cup journey for the club. The opportunity to play at the extremely impressive Avenue Stadium was not a consequence of luck, but three well deserved, hard-fought victories, two of which came against higher level opposition.
And there was even time for individuals to impress against much higher level opponents. In particular there was a stellar performance from ‘keeper James Domm, who pulled off a flurry of fine saves – both acrobatic and assured – in the opening period. The first came just nine minutes in, when he parried away from winger Jamie Reid before Josh Morse hacked clear.
There was little the custodian could do three minutes later when Mark Jermyn's diagonal ball from right back fell perfectly for Watson, who arrowed into the opposite corner.
Again, after Bowen came agonisingly close to equalising, Domm had no chance to prevent Reid from doubling the hosts' advantage. Finding himself in space on the right wing, the Exeter City loanee turned inside and let rip from 30 yards with a spectacular left-footed drive that flew into the back of the net.
A flying save from Domm that saw him fingertip a curling Watson shot around the post prevented a third before Nathan Walker headed home from a corner to make it three ten minutes before the break.
The remainder of the half arguably belonged to the Bassett shotstopper though. Sam Malsom's glancing header from close range was gloriously brushed away at point blank range before the left midfielder's dipping half volley was gloved to safety with Domm springing to his left.
Two minutes before half time, the true difference in standard between the two sides was displayed, although the post would ultimately save Bassett. Jamie Gleeson had slipped over near the halfway line, but from the floor he was able to bring the ball under control, get back up onto his feet, take on James Turner and slip a perfectly weighted pass through to Watson, whose measured shot rattled the right upright. Moments later Domm demonstrated his quality, maintaining his composure to save with his feet from Reid, who had danced past three defenders.
Bassett emerged for the second half better organised in defence and better adjusted to Dorchester's fierce two-touch tempo. The hosts eased off the gas somewhat too, yet they were also forced into conceding possession more often than they had in the opening 45 minutes of the match. And this served to make sections of the home support increasingly restless as their team's standards slipped.
In response the Magpies bucked their ideas up again in the closing stages, but a scuffed volley from substitute Jon Garcia and another Domm parry from a Gleeson drive kept the score at 3-0.
It took until stoppage time for the home side to finally open their account for the second half. And it took some goal too, Reid controlling the ball on the half turn, before blasting into the bottom right corner.
Scoop's Man of the Match: James Domm – typically a goalkeeper will make no more than one spectacular save in an entire game. Domm, on the other hand, had five in one half, all of which rightly received recognition from the entire crowd. The Bassett goal was always going to be under fire against opponents of Dorchester's quality, but were it not for Domm the home side could well have scored more than four.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – a convincing victory for Dorchester, but a respectable effort to be proud of from Bassett, who - on their richly deserved big day out - made the victors work hard for their goals.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38