Monday 6th June 2022
Royal Wootton Bassett Town Under 18s came up just short in their quest for the Wiltshire Senior League Under 18 Floodlit Division title in 2021-22. Engaged in an exciting three-way battle with Devizes Town and Melksham Town, Bassett had to settle for runners-up spot, finishing three points behind eventual champions Devizes.
After a stunning eight game unbeaten run to start their campaign, Bassett went on to lose three of their remaining six fixtures – including a crucial heavy away defeat to Devizes in January that put the Nursteed Road outfit in control of their own destiny.
Finishing as runners-up was still an excellent achievement though in a season during which numerous members of the Under 18 side also gained a taste of senior men's football with the club's First and Development teams.
Bassett's league campaign began with two impressive victories. Picking themselves up after a narrow defeat against Paulton Rovers in the FA Youth Cup, Nick Warren's side travelled to Melksham for their opening league fixture and came from behind to triumph 2-1 courtesy of an own goal and Zane Pinnock's winner. The team then visited Radstock Town and came back from North Somerset with a convincing 3-0 win after goals from Kevin Prouse, Alex Stephenson and Jowan Partridge.
Bassett came unstuck a week later, dropping their first points of the season in a 3-3 draw away at Pewsey Vale. Bassett led 3-2 at the break thanks to goals from Stephenson, Harry Farrow and Joey Warren. But they were unable to hold on for all three points as Pewsey equalised ten minutes from time.
However, Bassett would bounce back from that draw by reeling off four straight wins – their best run of the season.
Prouse fired a hat-trick with Kieran Legg completing the scoring in a 4-0 thrashing of New College. First half goals from Prouse and Partridge then proved enough as Bassett edged out Calne Town 2-1. Another high-scoring affair, this time at home against AFC Aldermaston, ended in a 4-2 win for the hosts as James Johnson (2), Partridge and Prouse found the net. The streak subsequently continued with a 4-1 triumph at New College – earned thanks to a Prouse brace and further goals from Legg and Rhys Farrow – that took the team to the top of the table ahead of their first meeting with Devizes.
And Bassett made sure they retained a slender one-point lead over Devizes – with a game in hand still to play – as a thrilling contest saw the teams share six goals, with Bassett's coming courtesy of Johnson, Sebastian Smith and Charlie Stammers.
There was a slight sense of frustration though as Bassett led 2-0 at the interval and were looking in control. Settling for a draw also meant top spot was ceded to Melksham – and the Black and Yellows took advantage when they met Bassett the next week, triumphing 2-0 at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground.
Another 3-0 victory against Radstock, earned thanks to a Johnson brace and Flynn Walters strike, saw Bassett get back to winning ways ahead of Christmas, with the team entering the winter break second, two points behind Melksham with two games in hand and a point clear of Devizes.
Bassett would switch positions with Devizes in their first game of the new year though as the Nursteed Road side scored three second half goals en-route to a comfortable 4-0 win.
With three games remaining, Bassett were in a position where they needed to take maximum points to keep their title hopes alive.
Legg and Stammers scored to make sure Bassett won the first of that trio of crucial matches as a professional display earned a 2-0 win away at Aldermaston.
But their hopes were all but dashed in the team's penultimate fixture at Calne. Sonny James gave Bassett the lead. However, the hosts came from behind to win 2-1.
That left Devizes two points clear at the top with two games still to play. And, by virtue of their superior goal difference, one point would realistically have been enough to take the title.
The pressure was now on Bassett to keep hold of second – and it was fortunate that Radstock had beaten Melksham when Bassett tripped up at Calne, a result that left Bassett a point in front of the third-place side.
Bassett's final match was at home to Pewsey and it appeared as though the team were on course to need help from elsewhere as the visitors went ahead early in the second half. Nonetheless, the team kept their nerve. Joey Warren soon pulled Bassett level, before teeing up top scorer Prouse for what proved to be a runners-up medal clinching winner.Last modified on Monday 6th June 2022 at 08:00.