Four-some Packer leads Vase procession

Saturday 23 September 2017 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 24 September 2017 at 14:39)

Sam Packer scored four as Royal Wootton Bassett Town progressed to the FA Vase first round with a 5-0 triumph against Codicote.

Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, 23rd September 2017

Four first half goals from Sam Packer ensured Royal Wootton Bassett Town romped to success in their FA Vase encounter with Codicote as Bassett brushed aside their Spartan South Midlands League 5-0.

Packer's quartet of goals comprised a perfect hat-trick, as he headed his first before adding two with his right foot and finishing off his 41-minute haul with a fine left foot effort.

Rory Sproule then completed the scoring in the second half as he finally got the goal that his industrious performances have merited since first taking the field in blue and yellow.

Rich Hunter's side were always favourites to win this tie against the step six strugglers. But knowing that you are expected to triumph can often result in complacent, below-par performances.

Not so on this occasion. Bassett's first half display was a dominant one as they passed the ball around with confidence and gave their visitors the run around. While they did take the foot off the pedal somewhat in the second period, there was still no danger of them conceding, and a fifth clean sheet in six games was duly earned.

The game was over as a contest come the 24th minute, by which point Packer had already completed his hat-trick.

His first arrived on six minutes as he met Gio Wrona's perfectly weighted corner and flicked a near post header into the opposite top corner.

The playmaker's second resulted from another set piece on the quarter hour mark. Packer was tripped on the right edge of the box, dusted himself down and whipped a stunning free kick around the wall and beyond a helpless Victor Tallas-Hiranta in the Codicote goal.

All the action was happening at one end as Codicote's goal lay under siege.

And Sproule and Chris Jackson both came close before Packer grabbed his third.

After racing onto Jackson's ball in the left channel, Sproule cut inside his man before dragging a shot just wide of the near post, while Jackson saw a towering header crash off the bar after Wrona had floated a cross to the left post.

Minutes later the third arrived in contentious fashion. The visitors were punished after Harvey Scholes was lightly clipped in the box, and though the midfielder stayed on his feet a penalty was awarded, which Packer – ignoring captain Steve Yeardley's desire to take spot kick himself – swept into the bottom left corner.

Sproule then came close again after being played in by Jackson, but his attempted lob could only find the roof of the net.

After Hanad Nur had Codicote's only shot of the game, which he arrowed across the face of goal and wide, Bassett continued their onslaught.

Great set up play from Sproule presented an unmarked Packer with a golden opportunity to grab his fourth, yet he skewed over his first time left foot shot from 15 yards.

Packer would make no mistake a minute later though. Sproule dinked a ball over the top of the defence which his partner in crime latched onto before delicately steering over Tallas-Hiranta and into the back of the net with his left foot.

Chances did begin to dry up following the restart thanks to a combination of Codicote defending deeper and Bassett preserving energy given their unassailable advantage.

Failing to record more than five goals can't be seen as a disappointment though.

It could well have been more too. Prior to Sproule's 83rd minute strike, Scholes had rattled the woodwork following Ben Lodge's cutback and forced Tallas-Hiranta to make a save with a curling effort. Substitute Lodge also came close, cutting in from the right before stabbing a low left effort inches wide of the post.

Finally Sproule ended his drought in the closing stages, powering a back post header from Packer's free kick delivery into the back of the net.

For him, opening his account should provide further confidence. For Bassett, it added extra gloss to an emphatic Vase victory, and – for only the fourth time in the club's history – they find themselves in the first round proper of the competition.

Man of the Match: Sam Packer – whenever a player scores four goals in a single half – let alone a game – it's obvious they'll take home this award. And Packer's haul was a perfect one, comprising an excellent header and two sublime strikes as well as a finely taken penalty. The opposition may not have been the strongest, but Packer was again at his unplayable best.

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