M Bennett, N Hall, A White
After 90 minutes of pulsating, end to end football, there was nothing to separate Wootton Bassett Town and local rivals Malmesbury Vics as the two sides shared six goals between them.
A workmanlike display from Bassett, a side who looked different both personnel wise and tactically as Paul Burke reverted to a 4-4-2 with new signing James Domm replacing Adam Miller between the sticks, earned a much needed point although missed opportunities in the second half meant Bassett couldn't come out of Malmesbury with two more.
After an earlier miss, Steve Robertson – who was arguably the best player on the pitch – emphatically put the hosts ahead in the 20th minute. Tony Oakley whipped in a brilliant free kick from the right and Robertson connected with a glancing header, just ahead of Rich Gee, which looped into the top left corner.
A minute later Bassett equalised, scoring a brilliant goal of their own thanks to Matty Bennett who was returning after a two game absence. He cut inside from the right flank before putting Nathan Hall through on goal with a 30-yard reverse pass and the forward made no mistake, holding his nerve and placing the ball comfortably past Martin Woodhouse.
Despite being an open affair with both sides attacking at will there were few clear cut chances in the opening 45 minutes.
The next chance after Hall's equaliser brought another fantastic goal to put Bassett ahead nine minutes before half time. A superb Chris Mills cross-field ball fell perfectly for Bennett who laid off Andy White with a first time pass before White struck an unstoppable first time effort from 25-yards into the top left corner.
Ten minutes into the second period more super work from Bennett created another scoring chance for White after the winger sent a low cross into the danger area. The ball fell perfectly for White 12 yards out. However, the ball got stuck in the forwards' feet though allowing a tackle to come in and a weak effort was easily collected by Woodhouse.
Steve Shaw made his Bassett debut just before the hour as he replaced an impressive Marcus Neal – who was making his first start - before Malmesbury equalised in the 68th minute.
Oakley's corner from the right was headed back across goal and Robertson nipped in to head home from six yards'. This came after a blatant shove on Shaw wasn't acted upon by referee Cobby.
Neil Fisher almost grabbed his side a second goal in less than five minutes after intercepting a poor pass from Rich Gee. However Steve Yeardley did enough to deflect the shot just wide of the left post.
From the resulting corner another chance opened up for Fisher but this time he sent a powerful 20-yard drive just over before Steve Bunting replaced Paul Crabtree.
With fifteen minutes to go a neat one-two down the right between Bennett and White opened up a chance for the latter. Bennett struck a bouncing ball first time from 15-yards but the ball travelled just wide as the winger didn't connect properly.
Tony Packer made Bennett and Bassett pay for their missed opportunities as he fired his side into the lead with 13 minutes left. Bassett gave the ball away from their own throw before Packer found the back of the net with a low, long range drive that just beat the outstretched Domm.
Bennett was able to equalise with nine minutes to go. Hall found himself on the end of a long Bunting throw in the right corner and after beating his man and drawing the attention of Woodhouse, squared the ball across the box and Bennett popped up to tap home from ten yards.
Strangely for a derby match, the game featured only two bookings which both occurred in the final five minutes as Gee and Bunting were cautioned for a trip and dissent respectively.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Matty Bennett – despite playing on a pitch that didn't really suit his style of play, the tricky winger played a part in all three Bassett goals, scoring one himself. He could have had himself another with 15 to go but you can't fault him after a superb performance.
Scoop Rating: 8/10 – If this rating was for entertainment the mark would definitely be 10/10 as both sides played flowing, attacking football from start to finish. However Bassett did enough to win the game but weren't clinical enough in front of goal, squandering a couple of great chances and also could have avoided conceding a third by simply not losing possession.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 20th September 2020 at 18:36
M Bennett, N Hall, A White