M Bennett, S Yeardley
It wasn't the most entertaining game of the night, but it was tense and nail biting as Wootton Bassett Town held on to win 2-1 against Hungerford Town, ensuring three vital points.
Early on, it seemed it would be another of those games with Bassett's passing finding the wrong man allowing Hungerford to attack with Bassett's midfield high up the pitch. However, stern defending led by Andy Hallett, Rich Gee and Rob Hopkins ensured it wasn't Bassett who went behind.
Ian Gill also denied Hungerford the opening goal when, on 19 minutes, he tipped a shot from Danny Kirby behind him and just as the ball looked to be heading across the line, Gill stretched back and recovered the ball. All this coming from a poorly taken Robbie Sadler corner.
In the 26th minute a foul on Steve Yeardley warranted a yellow card for Brady Lilley, who provided a hard challenge just a little too late.
Just before the half hour, Glenn Head rose above Gee but nodded wide from the edge of the box then Bobby Tong fired on target from a tight angle but Gill was there to easily save.
A darting run by Matty Bennett down the left earned Bassett their first goal. His was tackled on the edge of the box only for the ball to fall to Dave Tyler. Tyler had his legs taken out and referee Mark Niemirski had no option to award a penalty. Steve Yeardley coolly slotted away into the right hand corner for his second goal of this season – making him joint fourth top scorer.
Another Bennett run just before the break created another Bassett chance. Bennett jinked left and right before firing a shot in off-balance from eighteen yards and the ball sailed wide.
The visitors had the first opportunity in the second half but Gill was able to make an easy diving save before Bassett broke down the other end.
Ash Bradshaw rode a challenge in the left corner before crossing into the box. The ball fell to Bennett waiting on the penalty spot and he had all the time in the world to blast the ball past David Leno off the legs of a Hungerford defender.
A minute later Head put Hungerford back into the game. A throw in just inside Bassett's half was neatly played about before Head easily slotted past Gill from inside the box after the Bassett defence fell to sleep.
With 55 minutes played, an attack down the left and a subsequent cross found Shaun Thorp but Gill was equal to the shot again and parried away.
Lee Morse received a caution twenty minutes from the end before Bassett made their only change – Tom Messenger replacing scorer Yeardley who had picked up a slight knock.
With three minutes left, it should have been game, set and match. Player of the month Carl Taylor and Bennett played the ball back and forth to each other setting Bennett free but his shot, with no defender around, flew across the face of goal and wide.
A final chance at the other end from Kirby was easily held by Gill. The three points send Bassett within two points of Pewsey with two games in hand; Pewsey play Wednesday as they host Witney. Bassett's next game is another big one – away at fourth bottom Chipping Norton Town.
Manager's Man of the Match: Andy Hallett
Scoop's Man of the Match: Matt Bennett – should have scored two but caused the Hungerford defence all sorts of problems as he linked up well with the midfield and strike partner Dave Tyler.
Scoop Rating: 8/10 – Nerves were settled after the first goal following a shaky start. The team was solid at the back and in midfield – Leigh Jones doing a great job of anchoring the midfield 5 – and, finally, settled in front of goal.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Wednesday 16th September 2020 at 12:21
M Bennett, S Yeardley