J Magani (2), M Bennett
After missing the first two games of the season through illness, Matty Bennett showed Wootton Bassett Town what they had missed as he played an instrumental role in helping his side on their way to a 3-2 win over rivals Cirencester United in an, at times, bad tempered match.
With the side reshuffled due to availability problems, the Bassett line up had a totally different look to it from the previous two games as Steve Bunting and Steve Yeardley found themselves in the centre of midfield for the first time in a while. However the reshuffling had little effect it seemed early on.
On seven minutes Steve Yeardley challenged Cirencester 'keeper Lee Clatworthy for a Stu Hemsley free kick causing the 'keeper to fumble the ball. John Magani pounced on the loose ball and tapped in from six yards to give the home side an early advantage.
Hemsley allowed the visitors to equalise before quarter of an hour had gone though as his poor back pass was well short of its intended target in 'keeper John Haines. Phil Hall picked up the loose ball and coolly slotted past Haines who had no chance whatsoever.
Events took a turn for the worse with 17 minutes gone when Clive Messenger took a swipe at Yeardley with no intention of playing the ball. The referee only managed to produce a yellow for Messenger.
The inevitable happened four minutes later as Yeardley kicked out at Martin Richings and was cautioned for the first time in nine months; Richings was also booked.
In the 28th minute a punched Nathan Hall corner fell to an unmarked Rich Gee on the edge of the box but the defender struck over from 20 yards.
Magani almost put Bassett back ahead five minutes after the restart as he turned his man on the edge of the area before firing low but Clatworthy parried the ball away.
A minute later Gee was booked for dissent. The defender made up for that in the 52nd minute as his crossfield ball into the corner was ran onto by Bennett who then cut inside and buried the ball into the bottom corner from eight yards.
A Bunting ball to Magani in the 55th minute opened up another chance for the forward but once again Clatworthy was equal to his effort, tipping wide. From the resulting corner Bunting's shot was blocked before Lee Marshall pounced on the rebound but once again a body got in front of the ball, diverting it wide.
Andy Hallett made it three bookings for Bassett shortly after as he was cautioned for tripping just inside his own half.
Magani doubled Bassett's lead in the 62nd minute after a brilliant example of counter attacking football. Haines started the move as he quickly threw to Hall. Hall played a crossfield ball to Magani on the left who played a one-two with Bennett and shot in with his left foot from twelve yards.
Anthony McCusker produced a save a minute later as his 20-yard shot was tipped wide by an outstretched Clatworthy.
Mark King replaced Nathan Hall in the 64th minute before Alex Rudd produced a diving save from Haines three minutes later.
With twenty minutes remaining Magani should have killed the game off as he once more rolled the last man creating a one-on-one opportunity. Instead of taking the ball round the 'keeper, Magani tried placing the ball in the corner but Clatworthy was able to parry away at his feet.
Bassett nervously saw out the last quarter of an hour. Firstly Hall picked out an unmarked Rudd at the far post but Haines did brilliantly to swat the low shot away.
Robin Greenway replaced Hemsley with ten minutes left to add another man at the back after Rudd once again found himself unmarked on the edge of the area but blasted wide.
Rudd eventually found the back of the net with two minutes remaining. Adam Keslake's low free kick skidded about the area and wasn't cleared and Rudd made no mistake, pouncing on the loose ball and drilling home from the edge of the box.
The game finished on a bad note as Gary Toal lunged dangerously into Yeardley with Bassett on the break. Referee David Commander only gave a free kick as Toal got away with an awful challenge that summed up the man in the middle's day.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Andy Hallett – steady as ever at the back, mopping up most Cirencester attacks. Hallett didn't put a foot wrong all day although he was cautioned.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – Despite a few lapses at the back it was a solid performance that deserved all three points. Magani and Bennett caused problems for the visitors' defence and could have had five between them.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 20th September 2020 at 14:42
J Magani (2), M Bennett