Katara Chen looks back at a Worthington Cup tie and a transfer making the spotlight.
Steve Basham’s return from a hernia operation put North End on course for the Worthington Cup second round draw.
Less than 48 hours before his transfer tribunal, which would decide his price to move from Southampton, Basham’s quality performance against Wrexham on August 24 proved that he was a true winner.
And if any of the panel members happened to be at the game, you can be sure another nought was tacked onto the fee.
For Basham’s strike, which went a long way to killing off a tie, was Premiership class.
Poor Wrexham were totally outclassed with a line up that one could argue was not even David Moyes’ first choice.
Keeper David Lucas, was rested, as was top scorer Kurt Nogan, midfielder Mark Rankine and winger David Eyres, as well as Lee Cartwright and Dominic Ludden who were still recovering from injury.
However, North End proved their strength by fielding an 11 that could match the best in the division.
In the seventh minute of the game, Tepi Moilanen saved from former Deepdale frontman Ian Stevens.
It was his first game in 10 months and never put a glove wrong, only being tested twice – once in the opening minutes and once in the death.
Both time he flew through the air to turn the shots around.
Five minutes later, Basham latched a superb though ball launched by Sean Gregan, before he shook off marker Dave Ridler and zipped the ball into the bottom corner with a low left foot shot, which caught goal keeper Kevin Dearden on the hop.
Basham’s next attempt in the 25th minute to shoot the ball with his right boot was dropped down by Dearden, who then was awake to it.
By that time North End had scored 2-0 on aggregate.
And Wrexham would need an impressive three to stand a chance.
But once again Michael Appleton sent a shot into the bottom right after drawing Dearden’s attention.
Only a minute later, Basham was forced a fine save from Wrexham’s keeper, while Tepi grabbed the ball from former Burnley frontman Kevin Russell with a brave dive.
Welsh international, Rob Edwards, passed a late fitness test to make the starting line-up and showed quality before a knock cut short his first outing in two weeks in the 63rd minute.
The last save by Dearden was at the foot of the post, after Brian Barry-Murphy, on to replace Edwards and slotting in comfortably in his seniour debut, had set up Paul McKenna on 76 minutes of the game.
In the final minute, sub Eyres fired a volley, which crashed at the crossbar.
With almost five minutes’ stoppage time to play, Wrexham very nearly claimed a consolation goal in the dying minutes until Craig Faulconbridge’s shot was turned over by Moilanen beautifully once again.
North End had to then wait to see themselves in the second draw, and the performance of Basham had proved that his price shouldn’t come down in the coming tribunal.