Basford United 2-1 Leek Town (FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round) 30.10.21
Basford United survived a scare on Halloween weekend to progress to the first round proper of the FA Trophy with a 2-1 win over Leek Town at Greenwich Avenue.
Aaron O’Connor put them ahead early on before Lewis Brownhill equalised seconds after half-time with a low hit.
Steve Chettle’s men then weathered some sustained away pressure before Matt Thornhill cleverly poked Dom Roma’s low cross into the far corner late on to advance.
“It was about getting through, and we managed to do that,” boss Chettle said.
“I thought we started the game very well again and created lots and lots of opportunities and could have had three or four by half-time. We said at the break that we just need to be a little bit more ruthless in front of goal.
“For ten minutes they got themselves on top of the game and scored a fortunate break, shall we say, for their equaliser but we regained our shape, our composure and we scored a really good goal ourselves from Matty [Thornhill] and I think we deserved the win.”
Indifferent in form of late, United began brightly – as they have done in most of their games this season – and O’Connor gave them the perfect start after only ten minutes.
Thornhill did well to deke around his marker, before playing a sumptuous ball that broke lines and the veteran striker coolly one-timed a shot under Samuel Booth for the opener, his fourth in as many games.
Neil Baker’s Leek did little in the first half to cause any upset in the opening 45; the dangerous Daniel Trickett-Smith laid Robert Stevenson through but his effort after half an hour was well stopped by Adam Collin.
Declan Dunn then stung the hands of Booth shortly after Marcus Marshall turned Josh Ryder to fire over the crossbar and O’Connor may have added a second had his low drive found the other side of the far post deep into first half stoppage time.
A fortuitous break then lead to the equaliser just after the restart.
Brownhill advanced into space, had an initial shot blocked by his own Tim Grice, however the ball fell kindly back to the full-back who leathered into the far corner giving Collin no chance.
Buoyed, Town enjoyed a decent spell throughout the second half, but failed to ultimately worry a stoic home defence and Kane Richards had the ball in the net later on but was rightly penalised for a foul on Booth.
New Wrexham owner, Hollywood buff Ryan Reynolds, described football, in part, as an ‘evil and gorgeous game’, after watching his new side in action for the first time and that narrative rang true on 72 minutes.
Stevenson flashed a shot which crashed off the post via Collin’s fingertips which may have seen Leek advance. However, it was United – breaking from the resultant clearance – who regained the lead when Roma powered down the right.
His cross-cum-shot – on the end of O’Connor’s lay-off – already looked goal bound but was soon nestling in the far corner when Thornhill’s deft flick helped it on its way.
Late chances from Thornhill, O’Connor and Terry Hawkridge may have sealed the tie in the last ten minutes, but United held on and can now look forward to the trip to Ashton United on Saturday in the Northern Premier League (15:00).
“He’s been great – it’s a proper striker’s goal inside the 18-yard box and with the first-time finish,” Chettle added, when asked about O’Connor’s recent upturn in form.
“He could have had some more, especially at the end of the first half where I thought he scored across goal. He’s got through 90 minutes as well which is another bonus for us and him.
“It’s great to have him around and we need more from him now – obviously!”
Basford United: Adam Collin, Dom Roma, Ryan Wilson, Brad Gascoigne, Stef Galinski, Declan Dunn, Terry Hawkridge, Matt Thornhill, Marcus Marshall (Rev James 77), Kane Richards, Aaron O’Connor.
Leek Town: Samuel Booth, Lewis Brownhill (Ammar Dyer 72), Louis Keenan, Marc Grocott, Olly Harrison Josh Ryder, Jessy Bavanganga, William Reeves, Tim Grice, Daniel Trickett-Smith (Will Saxon 84), Robert Stevenson.
Venue: Greenwich Avenue (208)
*Article provided by Marc Williams (Basford United Correspondent).
*Main image @Papapix Matt Thornhill (left) and Aaron O’Connor celebrate the strikers opener verses Leek.