L Chatwin, N Gambling, J Hiscock
Grigg Lane, 16th August 2014
Only very rarely in football does a well thought out gameplan get implemented perfectly, such is the impact of the game's inherent randomness. Even more infrequently does that happen on big occasions.
But, in what will be one of the season's most important games for Paul Braithwaite's team, a near perfect Wootton Bassett Town display ensured Brockenhurst were on the receiving end of an FA Cup Extra Preliminary round crushing.
Thanks to the tactics implemented by Braithwaite, Bassett recorded an emphatic, convincing 3-0 victory to book a Preliminary round date with Wiltshire rivals Bradford Town.
Bassett played an extremely intelligent, counter attacking game. Their hosts were afforded ample space to play the ball around at the back, yet any time they sought to probe forward beyond the halfway line a smothering pressing game snuffed out any threat and from there the visitors were able to create the chances needed to secure victory.
Against this, Brockenhurst - riding high after winning three of their first four league games - looked forlorn.
The form book and the home team's early pressure had suggested that the game's outcome was likely to be somewhat different, and it appeared to be against the run of play that Bassett took the lead just five minutes in.
While seeking to play out from the back, heavy control from home midfielder Brad Magookin saw the ball fall at the feet of Nathan Gambling. Twenty yards out from goal, the forward took one touch before curling a beautiful effort into the top left corner; home stopper Sam Cousins had no chance.
An immediate reply almost came as Darryl Phillips outmuscled George Drewitt after controlling Will Tickle's cross, but an awkward bounce meant the ball rolled harmlessly into the clutches of Ben Mitchell.
But thereafter, as Bassett's rope-a-dope tactics set in the danger posed by Badgers was negligible. Right winger Tickle, their most dangerous outlet, struggled to escape the attention of Pete Sykes, lone front man Phillips found himself little room against either Drewitt or Rich Carter, while Bassett's central midfield three of Steve Yeardley, Nathan Hawkins and Dan Bailey constantly popped up to steal possession.
The only time Brockenhurst threatened to equalise for the remainder of the period came from a set piece, Murray Holmes forcing Mitchell to scramble across his goal to parry his low strike around the post.
Had Bassett taken the chances that were to come prior to the interval, the damage done by the visitors could have been even greater. On the half hour, Yeardley stole possession before sending Chatwin through one-on-one with Cousins. A bobble and a nervous touch saw the speedster run the ball out of play though.
Minutes later, Chatwin jumped on loose ball and darted past Holmes, but dragged his shot from an angle across the face of goal.
He made no mistake two minutes after the restart, however. Yeardley's clipped through ball was chased down by Gambling in the right corner and, after holding play up to allow his teammate to rush into the box, he squared to Chatwin who thrashed a first time shot into the roof of the net.
With the hosts now forced into playing catch up, the game opened up, offering more counter attacking opportunities to Bassett.
They did have to contend with some more purposeful attacking from Brockenhurst, but rarely were Bassett troubled. The best they could muster came as Mitchell twice came up short when trying to claim the ball in a crowded box. But Dan Smith snatched a flicked header wide before Sykes was there to mop up on the line as Magookin steered goalwards.
At the other end, an awkward bounce denied an unmarked Chatwin a second after a lightning break and Gambling cross. He then drove over after racing onto another lofted Gambling ball.
With quarter of an hour left Gambling could too have snatched his second of the day, but he guided a header into the hands of Cousins after a Drewitt clearance led to a mix up between the ‘keeper and Lewis Gundry .
The deserved third goal eventually came deep into injury time and arrived in some style following another devastating break.
Bailey this time chased down a ball sent into the right channel and, after fashioning space, squared to substitute Joe Hiscock. On the edge of the area, Hiscock turned his marker inside out and drilled a firm shot into the bottom left corner.
Having added the exclamation mark to a brilliant, brilliant day at the office, Bassett's celebrations were more than deserved.
Man of the Match: Nathan Gambling – with so many fantastic performances in all areas of the pitch, it feels harsh to single out any individual. But Gambling's performance was an excellent one as he grabbed a third goal in three games with a sublime finish, set up Bassett's second and helped create numerous other chances with his selfless hold up play.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
L Chatwin, N Gambling, J Hiscock