Matt Bennett, Paul Crabtree, Chris Mills
A Matty Bennett inspired Wootton Bassett Town defeated champions Winterbourne United 3-1 following an emphatic second half performance, a half in which all four goals were scored as Paul Burke's side's promotion chase continues.
Unbeaten since January 21st in the league, Winterbourne presented a stern test for Paul Burke's side, that test was passed with flying colours. It was a gritty, determined performance that fully deserved the three points.
Both sides defended resolutely in the first half with only a couple clear cut chances. In the 17th minute a John Magani effort was deflected just wide following a Paul Crabtree pass before Steve Bunting came close from 20-yards, striking wide.
In the 26th minute Winterbourne countered following a failed Bassett attack and a long ball over the top found Darren Andrews in a good position. However, Andrews blasted wide from 15-yards.
A rash foul on Ben Gascoyne by Liam Barrett produced the first booking of the match before a magnificent save from John Haines ensured the game went into the half deadlocked. Andrews squared for an unmarked Nick Waters, standing 15-yards out but Haines saved brilliantly with his feet to deny him.
Eight minutes before half time a Steve Yeardley free kick nearly wrong-footed Tom Sheppard but the Winterbourne 'keeper adjusted and poked the ball away.
After the break the home side were first to find the back of the net through a Mark Nash header but an offside flag ruled it out.
On 50 minutes Bennett gave Bassett the lead after unselfish play from Nathan Hall. Sheppard parried a Gascoyne effort into the path of Hall six yards out. Sheppard recovered well, ensuring Hall didn't have a simple tap in. The Bassett forward then played the ball into the path of the oncoming Bennett who drilled home from 15-yards.
The lead lasted all of two minutes though as Danny Cook turned in a Scott Cameron cross from six yards after a quick free kick caught Bassett out.
Rich Gee was booked for tripping on 56 minutes before Chris Mills replaced Steve Bunting just after the hour mark, three minutes later he had put his side in front again.
Bennett squared to Mills on the edge of the area and after taking a touch he drove the ball into the bottom left corner.
Winterbourne countered again and a Mark Allen shot was cleared off the line in the midst of a goalmouth scramble.
Gascoyne forced another diving save from Sheppard after a typical surging run midway through the second period before a Yeardley free kick struck the bar in the 72nd minute â€“ Bassett just couldn't find the killer goal.
That was until Paul Crabtree stepped up to the plate thanks to Bennett. With ten minutes left Bennett took on his man in the corner and squared the ball to an unmarked Crabtree. His shot was tipped by Sheppard but the ball trickled over the line for Crabtree's first Bassett goal.
Winterbourne searched for a late goal to reduce the deficit â€“ twice Cameron came close as he forced a save from Haines before blasting wide.
Anthony McCusker replaced a tired Hall minutes before the end before Crabtree nearly notched a second but dragged the ball wide after a Magani pass.
A top three finish is still very much on the cards but a tough trip to Trowbridge awaits on Tuesday that could determine things. Paul Burke's side are in inspired form though and are riding on a full head of steam. It needs to continue. How much they want it is what will determine the division Bassett play in next season.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Matty Bennett â€“ awesome from start to finish as he worked tirelessly coming back as well as when Bassett attacked. Scored the opener and played a huge part in the other two goals.
Scoop Rating: 8/10 â€“ It was edge of your seat stuff from Bassett as Winterbourne applied an immense amount of pressure but once again the Bassett defence were able to deal with it. Another awesome team effort that needs to be replicated Tuesday night.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Friday 18th September 2020 at 11:17
Matt Bennett, Paul Crabtree, Chris Mills