Royal Wootton Bassett Town were beaten 3-2 by local rivals Shrivenham in their opening home fixture of the 2019-20 Hellenic League Premier Division season.
Ill-discipline and costly errors – two recurring problems for Royal Wootton Bassett Town – combined to gift wrap a 3-2 victory to local rivals Shrivenham in Bassett's home opener as their sluggish start to the 2019-20 campaign continued.
Sam Collier's team had looked to be in the driving seat after Danny Langford headed them in front after just quarter of an hour.
But the game turned in the space of twelve first half minutes. First the visitors conjured up a simple equaliser through Josh Morse before a moment of madness from Rhys Talmash saw Bassett reduced to ten men. Then, five minutes before the break the home side switched off at a set piece and Ryan Stanners ensured they went into the break behind.
Playing with ten men for the best part of an hour was never going to be easy. Even more so when chasing a two-goal deficit as was the case when overplaying at the back enabled Sam Ockwell to score a well-taken third for his team ten minutes after the restart.
Although Callum Parsons' late penalty got his team to within a goal and the visitors' own sloppy discipline saw numbers evened up, it was all too late for Bassett who, again, were the instigators of their own downfall.
Ultimately, Shrivenham didn't really have to work that hard for the three points.
You'd assume that scoring three goals in a derby victory away from home would be the consequence of an excellent attacking display. Yet, aside from their three goals, they only really had one other chance of note in the game – after just seven minutes when Ollie Rejek dragged a shot straight at Declan Lehmann after Josh Morse had teed him up. And, after Talmash's dismissal, it was never readily apparent that they were playing with a man advantage.
That's not to take any credit away from Gareth Davies' team. They were hard-working, solid across all areas of the pitch and, most importantly, took their chances when they came and were not guilty of defensive errors.
They fell behind to a well-worked goal.
A minute earlier, the Shrivenham defence had been exposed down the right-hand side as Brad Pagliaroli and Tinashe Gwavava linked up well, the latter crossing for Talmash who volleyed over.
And it was down that flank that the goal was created. Gio Wrona's diagonal ball picked out Pagliaroli, who cut inside and fired at goal from an angle. His shot forced an excellent save from Mike Alexander, who parried the ball onto the bar. But to the 'keeper's misfortune, it dropped for Langford and he headed in from ten yards.
Pagliaroli was the creator of two further chances in the next ten minutes of the game. The first saw him force another decent save from Alexander before Parsons could only produce a weak shot from Pagliaroli's square pass.
Those missed opportunities proved costly when Wrona showed Stanners too much space on the right side. The winger then fed a through pass to Rejek, who squared to Morse for the easiest of tap-ins.
Bassett's task soon became even harder. Already a man down – albeit temporarily – after Langford had been sin-binned, Talmash, having fouled Jamie Prictor, decided to headbutt the right back in a moment of rage that he will surely have immediately regretted.
It certainly was no help for his team. And Bassett soon trailed, Stanners sweeping in on the turn after Tom Ballard's corner fell kindly for him.
Stanners was then involved in Shrivenham's third shortly after the restart.
One too many passes across the backline when they had multiple chances to clear ultimately led to Stanners seizing on an underhit Tom Cole ball. Tyron Leigh blocked an attempted through ball, but it fell perfectly for Ockwell, who shot a cannon into the bottom right corner from twenty-five yards. It was a great finish, but a shot the visiting skipper should never have had the opportunity to take on.
Bassett sought to find a way back into the game, but the odds were now stacked well against them.
Two jinking runs from Pagliaroli brought Alexander back into action as he repelled a pair of tight-angled efforts around the post. But it seemed as though the home side were going to be unable to find a way through.
That was until Shrivenham's discipline began to falter. With twenty minutes to go, Nathan Blackford needlessly dragged Cole down in the box when challenging for a free kick. Why he felt the need to protest is unclear, but it wasn't enough to put Parsons off his task as the forward sent Alexander the wrong way from the spot.
Cards began to be produced at a first rate as both teams continued to frustrate one another with niggly, careless fouls. And Dave Bampton's second yellow for a challenge on Pagliaroli earned him an early shower with five minutes remaining to even things up.
Had Bassett been able to keep their full contingent on the pitch, perhaps they would have been able to muster an equaliser and salvage a second consecutive 3-3 draw in the closing stages.
However, Talmash's earlier transgression meant it was a battle of equals and Shrivenham were able to protect their lead and preserve victory.
Man of the Match: Brad Pagliaroli – while he didn't get on the scoresheet, the winger was Bassett's main source of danger throughout the game and forced four quality saves from Shrivenham 'keeper Mike Alexander.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Tuesday 6th August 2019 at 23:14