Wootton Bassett Town lost more ground on the leaders after an abysmal showing at home to fourth bottom Cricklade Town. A controversial last minute winner gave Cricklade the points after Matty Bennett had equalised for Bassett moments earlier, but Paul Burke's side can only have themselves to blame.
For the majority of the game Bassett were frustrated by sturdy Cricklade defending and their no-thrills style as once a Bassett attack broke down, the ball was played upfield to safety.
After a slow start a clever dummy from Stu Hemsley gave Bennett a sight of goal but he drove his shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Four minutes later Ben Carter latched onto a Craig Ratcliff through ball and drilled a first time effort over.
Paul Hawkins produced a fine save to deny Carter the opener midway through the first period as Hawkins tipped wide after Carter connected with an Adam Smith cross.
With six minutes to go before the break Smith was denied by a diving Hawkins after Chris Neale was able to cut the ball back from the byline and into Smith.
Bennett was booked in the 40th minute for kicking the ball away after referee Douglas had failed to produce a card for some late challenges by both sides earlier on.
In first half stoppage time Steve Yeardley nearly managed to give Bassett the lead as he headed just over from a Steve Bunting corner despite the tight angle.
Bassett were behind two minutes after the restart when an unmarked Stephen Reade headed in from ten yards, Reade connecting with a Carter corner.
In the 49th minute Smith shot from the edge of the area and Hawkins comfortably held. Tom Messenger replaced Stu Hemsley five minutes later before Dwayne Quinn replaced James Townsend on the hour.
Steve Bunting was booked for a rash challenge in the 61st minute before Bassett came close to equalising. On 67 minutes a Jon Davis free kick found Tom Messenger at the far post, Messenger headed the ball into the six-yard box where Quinn struck the ball first time at the front post but the ball went just over. Leigh Jones then came on for Davis.
A long Ben Gascoyne ball was helped on by the head of Messenger, who had his back to the goal, and the ball sailed just over with 17 minutes left.
Three minutes later Bassett created their best chance of the game. A Bennett crossfield ball picked out Bunting who held the ball up before squaring back to Bennett. However, he couldn't get his shot off as the ball was trapped in his feet before it wriggled loose and fell to an unmarked Jones on the edge of the area. Jones struck an effort goalbound but the shot was blocked and eventually cleared.
With a minute to go, substitute Dean Wilson had the chance to wrap up the three points for Cricklade as he beat the offside trap following an Adam Whitefield through ball. Hawkins did enough though to put Wilson off and tipped away the weak effort.
A minute into stoppage time Bassett equalised. A long ball from Quinn was flicked on by Marshall. Bennett ran onto the free ball before he rounded Tom Fullerlove and tapped the ball into the back of the net.
Bassett were unable to hold onto a point they didn't deserve though as a controversial goal from Carter won Cricklade the game as he chipped over an oncoming Hawkins. Bassett were infuriated with referee Douglas, who had played Bassett the advantage but when they lost the ball failed to bring play back. Also, Carter was in an offside position when he received the ball.
Bassett got what they deserved at the end of the day though and as Cricklade extended their winning streak to four, Paul Burke's side extended the distance between themselves and the leaders.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Steve Yeardley – played another solid game, as did fellow defenders Lee Marshall and Rich Gee. Yeardley looked to get the ball down and play rather than playing long ball and also made some crucial tackles.
Scoop Rating: 4/10 – A dismal performance against a side who Bassett should have beat and needed to beat. If Bassett are to claw their way back up the table, they need to start getting wins rather than draws and losses.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Friday 18th September 2020 at 10:25