The word inconsistent sums up Wootton Bassett Town's season perfectly. Four days after playing arguably the best they have done all season in the 3-1 victory at home to Cricklade Town, Paul Burke's side put in their most abject display since playing Pewsey Vale away. This time the defeat was much heavier though as Cheltenham Saracens recorded six goals without reply.
Despite making a positive start in which they came close to taking the lead 5 minutes in when Ryan Betteridge was forced to parry away a Matty Bennett half volley, Saracens strolled to an easy win; the only Bassett player who was able to come out and say they couldn't have done anything more was Sam Lawro, the rest were nothing short of dire.
Nineteen minutes in a poor pass from Rich Gee was pounced on by Brendan Quinn who played into the feet of Andy Sherlock. With his back to goal, Sherlock tried to hook the ball over his head and that of James Domm but he could only hit marginally over.
Three minutes later the hosts started their scoring spree. Bennett fluffed a clearance, in part due to a wicked bounce, and the ball fell to Andy Crosskey on the edge of the area and the Saracens midfield drilled home on the half volley.
Domm made a fingertip save in the 33rd minute to turn Mike Wilce's diving header around the post after he connected with a low Steve Stroud free kick.
Three minutes later the lead was doubled. Chris Palmer fired a ball fifty yards up the pitch; Sherlock controlled the ball on the edge of the box with his chest, turned Steve Yeardley and fired into the top corner.
Palmer was again provider for the third four minutes before half time. His free kick from the left touchline was powerfully headed home by Stroud who beat Domm to the ball after the 'keeper decided to leave his line to try punch clear.
Just before the half time whistle, the hosts reacted strongly to a Dwayne Quinn challenge, igniting a mass melee which involved nearly everyone bar Domm. As a result of the carnage four players were cautioned – Yeardley and Andy White for Bassett and Betteridge and Palmer for the home side.
Burke made a double substitution at half time bringing John Magani and Stu Hemsley on to replace Quinn and Nathan Hall.
The gamble almost paid off four minutes into the second period as Bennett played through Chris Mills and he shot across goal from an angle. Magani was there at the far post waiting to divert the ball into the back of the net but somehow failed to connect.
Saracens broke as Crosskey was played through; leaving him with only Domm to beat but his shot from 12 yards was tipped away.
The 58th minute saw the fourth goal as another failed clearance from Bennett fell kindly for Wilce and he struck from the edge of the area, with the ball flying in after taking a deflection off of Yeardley.
Hemsley came close just after the hour as his 25-yard free kick sailed just over the bar. Nine minutes later he had another go from the left touchline and found Yeardley at the far post but his header was tipped wide with a fine save from Betteridge.
The home side went route one for goal number five as substitute Luke Davis raced onto Wes Green's punt up field and coolly found the top corner from 25-yards after Domm was forced into coming off his line to apply some pressure to the forward.
Magani again fired wide in the 74th minute after good build up from Lawro and Steve Shaw allowed the latter to square across the box. Bassett then made their final change bringing White off for Scott Large.
With eight minutes to go Betteridge was once again tested by a Hemsley free kick but was able to tip over on his back foot before Quinn sealed the game with his side's sixth two minutes from time.
Bassett lost possession from their own throw and Davis slotted through Quinn and the forward drilled a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
It is safe to say Bassett won't get any worse than they were against Saracens and the thrashing doesn't even rule out the possibility of a top six finish. However with a tough run in including Trowbridge twice, Lydney and Hook Norton away and two local derbies at Cirencester United and Cricklade to come this week, it means Bassett will have to return to form quickly.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Sam Lawro – worked tirelessly in the midfield and looked to get the ball down and play unlikely many of his team-mates who appeared uninterested.
Scoop Rating: 0/10 – Despite an opening ten minutes in which Bassett were the better team, it all went drastically downhill from there resulting in an embarrassing defeat, their worst since an 8-0 reverse at the hands of fellow Cheltenham side Bishops Cleeve in October 2002.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Monday 21st September 2020 at 09:43