Tuesday 31st May 2022
Royal Wootton Bassett Town Veterans enjoyed a memorable run to the Wiltshire Veterans' County Cup final in 2021-22. And, after a dramatic showpiece that featured even more twists and turns than the four games that got them there, Bassett were ultimately forced to settle for runners-up after suffering defeat on penalties against Bradford Town.
Bassett's journey to the final began with a preliminary round victory by the narrowest of margins as Jeremy Newton's brace proved enough to see off FC Calne 2-1.
That set up a tough tie away at Corsham Town in the first round. But a stellar Bassett performance – capped by goals from Newton, Ben Gould, Chris Head and Steve Howse – powered the visitors to a fine 4-1 win and a quarter final encounter with Trowbridge Tigers.
Bassett's eventful run then successfully continued against the Tigers – although the team came close to being knocked out. Bassett had taken the lead courtesy of a Martin Ohrland free kick before the visitors got back on terms from the penalty spot. It remained a tight affair before opening up late on. And, after Trowbridge spurned a golden opportunity to go in front, a fine Head finish rounded off a swift counter-attack with just seconds remaining to send Bassett into the semi finals.
Bassett would face their toughest test yet in the final four as they were paired with reigning County Cup holders Melksham Town – a side who had won all eleven of the league fixtures they had played going into the match, while conceding just three goals.
But a stunning Bassett display tested the Melksham defence like no other. Howse gave Bassett the lead before former Oxford United star James Constable equalised for Melksham. Melksham then went 2-1 and 3-2 in front, only for Newton and Head to bring Bassett back level. And, after Bassett survived a period in which they were forced to temporarily play with ten men, penalties were ultimately required. Nick Warren then stepped up to be Bassstt's hero, saving twice – including from Constable – to seal a 4-2 triumph.
Bradford – Melksham's Mid Wilts Division foes – would be Bassett's opponents in the showpiece. Following the same pattern as in their semi final, Bassett took the lead only for their opponents to draw level. Bradford subsequently went 2-1 and 3-2 in front, with Newton – who would score a hat trick, his third a low, curling free kick in the last minute – twice restoring parity in a back-and-forth thriller that ended 3-3.
Penalties were again required – and Bassett seemed to be handed the advantage when Bradford 'keeper Adam Sheppard was injured attempting a save. But his replacement Allan Clarke proved Bassett's nemesis, the stand-in shotstopper scoring Bradford's ninth penalty before producing his second save of the shootout to earn a 6-5 sudden death victory for his side.
A report and photos from the final are available on our website here.Last modified on Tuesday 31st May 2022 at 21:57.