Hill Farm Lane, 9th August 2014
For a number of those Wootton Bassett Town players starting against Binfield this was their first experience of Hellenic League Premier Division football. And after suffering a crushing 6-1 defeat, it's likely to be an afternoon few forget quickly.
This was stark exposure to the quality of opposition at the top end of the division.
Bassett's performance was not as bad as the final score may suggest. Instead they were well beaten from a team who should be expected to challenge for honours at the end of the season.
The type of afternoon that it was going to be became evident early on, the home side having the majority of the play with Bassett pinned deep. And their early pressure eventually led to an opening goal eleven minutes in as Dave Woozley steered in from close range after Carl Withers flicked a header towards goal.
That the opener came from a set piece was testament to some of Bassett's dogged defending, which had seen two chances snuffed out by last ditch tackles, including a fine stop by full back Pete Sykes, prior to the goal.
Sykes soon prevented another goal for the hosts with an acrobatic clearance off the line after Ian Davies had beat Ben Mitchell to the punch and flicked a header that seemed destined to settle in the back of the net.
He could do little to halt the progress of Josh Warren – so effective at finding space throughout - on the half hour mark though as Binfield doubled their advantage. Had the Bassett midfield not stood off Davies, the ball may not have been worked out so easily to Warren on the right.
Sykes was left isolated, allowing to Warren cut inside and he then sent a precise, low 20-yard drive into the right corner beyond the reach of a despairing Mitchell.
With a relatively comfortable advantage, the hosts' concentration wandered briefly as a flowing move involving Lewis Chatwin, James Skinner and Dale Richards resulted in the latter spinning on the edge of the box and toe poking past Dan Weait. An offside flag ruled that goal out though.
Richards was then unfortunate not to earn a penalty on the stroke of half time when his shirt was tugged from behind after the youngster had broken free, yet no decision was forthcoming.
His energy and drive eventually earned the spot kick that allowed Bassett to briefly hold hopes of getting back into the game shortly after the restart. A give-and-go with Nathan Gambling set Richards free again, and as he broke into the box a slight touch sent him tumbling. Gambling then sent Weait the wrong way with an emphatic penalty.
A half chance to equalise soon followed as Richard rose to meet a Dan Bailey corner, but his looping header sailed over.
That was near enough as good as it got for Bassett the rest of the way.
Any rekindled hopes of taking anything from the game were extinguished on 55 minutes as right back Jack Broome sauntered forward, riding three challenges, before cutting back for the prolific Davies to steer in from ten yards.
Shortly after the hour a long ball forward following a stalled Bassett attack fell to an unmarked Adam Dickens, who rifled a scorching long range effort past Mitchell.
It became 5-1 midway through the second period when Seb Bowerman intercepted a pass from centre half Nathan Hawkins intended for Steve Yeardley. Bowerman broke forward with purpose and squared for Davies, who rolled his man and stroked home.
Binfield would have to wait until five minutes into stoppage time for their sixth, which came when Callum Whitty guided a header from Carl Withers' teasing free kick into the top corner.
That completed a rather chastening season opening experience for Bassett. The team's work rate throughout was admirable. However, failing to appreciate possession and adapt properly to a rather slow pitch played into Binfield's hands.
Heads should not go down as a result of this match – the side Braithwaite and assistant Chris Green have fashioned still has plenty of promise. And Tuesday's visit to Newbury offers a quick to opportunity to rebound and demonstrate that.
Man of the Match: Dale Richards – though playing most of preseason at full back, he performed well in a more advanced role and gave Binfield right back Jack Broome something to think about. His surge forward won Bassett their penalty, while he was unfortunate not to be awarded one at the end of the opening period when he was more clearly impeded.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38