A White (2)
A pair of headed goals from Andy White gave Wootton Bassett Town enough room to survive a late scare at Letcombe as they hung on for a 2-1 victory despite a nervous final fifteen minutes in which all of Bassett's previous hard work almost amounted to nothing.
The first half was for the most part a dour, midfield battle with the closest any team came in the opening half hour being when a miskick from Letcombe 'keeper Brian Monnery fell to Nathan Hall twelve yards out but a heavy first touch from the forward meant he couldn't tap home and Letcombe cleared the danger.
In the 29th minute a Steve Shaw half volley was parried by Monnery and eventually put out for a corner after Shaw connected with Bennett's dink over the top.
Bassett had Robin Greenway to thank that they didn't go behind on 37minutes as he had to clear Sean Webb's header off the line after the Letcombe defender was first to react to a James Domm punch after a deep free kick.
Matty Bennett broke after the resulting corner was comfortably collected by Domm, whose quick release set the winger free. With Shaw and Hall in support and only two defenders to beat, it looked as if the deadlock would finally be broken but the ball evaded Bennett's feet and Letcombe were let off the hook.
With Bassett pushing, Letcombe's bend-but-don't-break defence was successful until five minutes before half time when a sustained period of pressure finally saw the deadlock broken.
After only half clearing a Bassett corner, the Letcombe defence managed to head away a couple more Bassett crosses before Bennett chipped in from the right wing and Andy White met it with a looping header that sailed over Monnery's head.
Hall was replaced by Mark King eight minutes after the restart before Stu Hemsley found himself in the book two minutes later for a rash challenge.
Then on the hour a great James Domm save with his legs kept out Simon Tabor. Tabor managed to beat the offside trap and latched onto a Iain Whatley through ball before trying to place the ball into the bottom right corner. However the Bassett 'keeper had done enough to close the angle and parry the ball away to safety.
Paul Burke took a gamble by using up his final two substitutions before the halfway mark in the second period as Scott Large and Sam Lawro replaced Chris Mills and Hemsley respectively.
With nineteen minutes remaining Shaw found the post with a 15 yard effort from an angle after a good passage of play between Bennett and White opened up a shooting chance for the lively frontman.
Two minutes later the gamble of using up all three substitutions paid off as Lawro initiated the move which brought the second goal. The youngster player Paul Crabtree through down the right channel before Crabtree crossed in from the right. White dived for the ball and connected with it on the bounce from 12 yards to wrong-foot Monnery and double the advantage.
Large then almost made it three with 76 minutes gone as he fired a half volley goal bound whilst under heavy pressure after connecting with a deep Bennett free kick, but Monnery was able to instinctively parry away.
With twelve minutes left, substitute Conor Breen made the game interesting as he tapped home after the ball got away from Bennett when it seemed as if the midfielder had done enough to sweep up a Whatley square ball after he had rounded Domm.
Steve Yeardley was booked for a late tackle as Bassett lived on the edge for the final few minutes; the Bassett offside trap was causing more trouble for the visitors than it was for the home side, who attacked patiently to avoid being caught and did so to good effect.
However the storm was successfully weathered although it seemed as if White's two goals were going to count for a mere point.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Steve Shaw – full of energy and never stopped running, holding the ball up well as well as committing defenders and linking up with the midfield to good effect. Was unlucky not to have a goal but his constant pressure forced the Letcombe defence into conceding possession on a number of occasions.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – Bassett controlled the game for the first 75 minutes until an extremely dodgy 15 minute spell at the end. Letcombe never looked like troubling the Bassett goal until then as Robin Greenway, Yeardley and Dwayne Quinn were all solid but the midfield wore out towards the end, creating trouble for the back three.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Monday 21st September 2020 at 09:24
A White (2)