After taking the lead through Mark King in the 16th minute, Wootton Bassett Town weathered the storm for 73 more minutes and looked as though they would hold on for all three points against Malmesbury Vics. However Steve Robertson spoiled the show with a 90th minute equaliser leaving Bassett winless in their last three games.
The home side controlled the first half with ex-Malmesbury man Lee Beavis almost giving Bassett the lead inside 14 minutes when he headed just wide. A minute later a foul on Stu Hemsley by Tony Packer produced the first booking, and first goal of the day.
Hemsley played a quick free kick to John Magani. Magani raced into the corner before delivering a low cross which the outstretched King connected with ten yards out, looping the ball into the top corner.
Malmesbury couldn't deal with Bassett early on. In the 18th minute Dwayne Quinn's cross from the left was just out of reach of both Stu Hemsley and Steve Yeardley – both unmarked at the far post.
Then on the half hour Hemsley drilled a low shot from 20 yards which Martin Woodhouse did well to tip away. Matty Bennett raced onto the rebound and tried cutting the ball back across goal but Woodhouse reached out to palm away.
Hemsley continued to provide dangerous set pieces as his free kick two minutes before half time was headed just wide by Quinn.
Despite holding the slenderest of advantages, Bassett were on the defensive most of the second period as Malmesbury piled on the pressure.
Just ten seconds after the restart, a cross from the left wasn't cleared and fell to Ben Wright six yards out but he could only head over.
An ankle injury ended Steve Yeardley's day as Jon Davis replaced him – Yeardley having battled through pain most of the first half after twisting it less than ten minutes into the match.
On 52 minutes Jonathan Wilkins struck from 25 yards after Bobby Hunt laid the ball off to him but Wilkins effort snuck just wide although stand in 'keeper Chris Mills had it covered.
Two minutes later Andy Hallett sold Mills short on a backpass and Allan Webb scooped up the loose ball. However, despite being clean through on goal, Webb struck a weak shot straight at Mills.
Malmesbury continued to pile on the pressure – with 55 minutes gone a long range Wilkins effort bounced just in front of Mills, forcing him to palm the ball over the bar.
Another injury this time to Matty Bennett forced another change with Lee Marshall his replacement with twenty five minutes left before Nathan Hall was brought on for King.
A dangerous free kick to the far post found Robertson's head but he was denied by a superb diving save from Mills as he was able to tip the ball around the post diving to his left.
Still the visitors came at Bassett. With seven to go Bobby Hunt's volley from eighteen yards flew just over.
With the game winding down it seemed as though Bassett had done enough to weather the storm. However with 89 minutes played Robertson delivered a harsh kick in the teeth to Paul Burke's side. Good work down the left enabled Neil Fisher to square to the lanky front man who fought off two challenges before drilling low into the bottom corner from the edge of the area giving Mills – who had performed valiantly all day – no chance.
The late equaliser puts Bassett where they don't want to be in the league table – nine points off of the pace set by Trowbridge Town with no games in hand. It also leaves Bassett with one win out of four at Rylands Way. The coming weeks will be a test of character for Burke and his team as they look to keep the deficit between themselves and the current leaders to a minimum.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Paul Crabtree – marked Allan Webb out of the game and did a great job anchoring the midfield breaking up a number of Malmesbury attacks.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – If only the defence could have held out for another minute. Bassett did enough in the first half to put a seal on the game but could only muster a solitary goal. Chris Mills did a fine job between the sticks but was exposed once Steve Yeardley left the field and the midfield lost some of its earlier discipline.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 20th September 2020 at 14:46