Super performances from Bassett youngsters Steve Yeardley, Stu Hemsley, Danny Clayton and Matt Bennett were not enough to hold off the return of Bassett old boys Jeremy Newton and Lee Stoddart and their Fairford Town colleagues, as a well taken Lee Clark goal gave the visitors a 1-0 victory in a tightly fought derby match.
Both teams had injury problems coming into the match as Fairford had both manager Mark Webb and assistant Kevin Moloney listed as substitutes. Bassett meanwhile, had coach Mick Byrne starting up front alongside Neil Bridges, Under-18 starlet Matt Bennett and Simon Jones, making his first appearance of the season in the first team, also came in for Bassett. On paper, Fairford had the stronger side but Bassett played well but couldn't find the back of the net.
Right at the start, Bassett were in an attacking mood and after eight seconds Mick Byrne tested Fairford 'keeper James Price with a thirty yard rocket.
Fairford began to gain momentum in the game though and in the fourth minute of play Courtenay Chessell headed wide a free header created from a Jeremy Newton free kick. On seven minutes Jason Hillier saved a Richard Watkins shot from a Lee Clark ball after Clark split the Bassett backline.
Newton began to cause the Bassett defence problems from his trademark set pieces known very well by the Bassett faithful from his time spent with the club.
In the sixteenth minute a Newton corner was again headed wide by Courtenay Chessell and then two minutes later a Newton free kick was connected with by Chessell again after Neil Matthews headed the free kick back across; but Jason Hillier dealt with Chessell's head.
Richard Watkins had another chance for Fairford in the nineteenth minute when he hit wide from the edge of the area.
Bassett nearly created an opening against the run of play with twenty minutes to go in the first half when Stu Hemsley linked up well with Neil Bridges but Bridges' second ball was cut out by the Fairford defence.
Mick Byrne came close again for Bassett in the 32nd minute when he hit over when under pressure from six yards out. A minute later at the other end Jeremy Newton had a shot saved by Jason Hillier from thirty yards out.
Again Fairford were pressing on the Bassett defence and eleven minutes from the break Lee Stoddart got past Steve Yeardley – one of the only times he did all game – but Stoddart failed to finish as his shot was easily saved by Jason Hillier.
In the 37th minute Courtenay Chessell but Newton through but Newton's shot was cut out by the superb Matt Bennett inside the eighteen yard area.
Neil Matthews had the final chance of the first half in the 38th minute when his shot from the edge of the area was deflected wide for a Fairford corner.
Bassett had kept Fairford out in a good first half display but the Bridges and Byrne combination had failed to get past the best defence in the league.
At the start of the second half Bassett looked threatening but couldn't break past the Fairford back four.
In the 59th minute Jason Hillier was forced to pull off a great save when Lee Stoddart ripped a shot in from the edge of the area.
A minute later, Fairford took the lead when a Jeremy Newton corner came loose and Lee Clark was there to pick the ball up on the edge of the area and place the ball past Jason Hillier.
Three minutes later, Newton was again involved in the action as he curled the ball round the Bassett wall only to hit the post from a 20 yard free kick. At this point Bassett brought the tired Mark Hammond off and brought youngster Carl Marsh on.
Bassett began to get the upper hand and they nearly found the back of the net in the 67th minute when James Price made a great save from a Stu Lamont header created from a Mick Byrne corner.
A minute later Bassett had another corner which Neil Bridges could have taken quickly but didn't angering Pete Yeardley who picked the flag out of the ground and threw it to the floor in disgust.
Bassett continued to create many a chance and eighteen minutes from time a great Danny Clayton ball was connected with by Mick Byrne who headed wide what Barry Giles described on the bench as a 'simple chance'.
Two minutes later a moment of magic came from the feet of Matt Bennett who skipped past four Fairford midfielders with ease only for his end shot to be deflected wide for a corner. Mark my words – Bennett is going to be one for the future of Wootton Bassett Town Football Club if he stays as he is only under-18.
Bassett continued to threaten Fairford and Stu Hemsley came close in the 76th minute when he hit over from thirty yards. Fairford brought Jeremy Newton off ten minutes from time as he was replaced by Chris Knowles.
Bassett continued to look for an equaliser and brought fresh firepower on upfront when Ben Jarrett replaced Mick Byrne. On the ninety minute mark Bassett picked up another injury worry when Neil Bridges picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Simon Jones.
It was too little too late for Bassett as they were defeated 1-0 by a good looking Fairford side. Plusses must be taken from the game especially following the performances of under-18 players Matt Bennett who showed touches of class and Steve Yeardley who didn't allow Lee Stoddart to play his game all afternoon.
Manager's Man of the Match: Matt Bennett
Scoop's Man of the Match: Steve Yeardley – a great performance not allowing Lee Stoddart an inch.
Scoop Rating: 6.5/10 – Unlucky to lose but Bassett still need a consistent scorer upfront. Great performances by the youngsters stepping in though.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Wednesday 2nd September 2020 at 14:39