Last season Trowbridge Town spoiled Wootton Bassett Town's promotion charge with a 1-0 victory in the penultimate game of the season. This year the roles look to have been reversed as Marcus Neal's equaliser nine minutes from time earned a much changed Bassett side a point.
And how the hosts did not like that. As handshakes were being exchanged after the game Trowbridge defender Luke Smith, who John Magani had torched for 90 minutes, reacted angrily to light hearted comments from the Bassett players and initiated a mass confrontation. It is safe to say that whenever these two sides clash they are always heated, tempestuous affairs.
The opening 45 minutes was a rather sluggish affair though as, despite needing three points to keep up the challenge to leaders Lydney Town, Trowbridge seemed tired and happy with the score deadlocked.
They did have the opening chance of the game when Booker Woodword's reverse pass opened up a chance for Matt Minnis but he fired just wide of the left post with a low 15-yard strike.
Eight minutes later Trowbridge were awarded a free kick in great shooting range and Lee Salter stepped up to take it. His shot was on target but James Domm made a comfortable catch.
Magani's pace was causing the Trowbridge defence all sorts of trouble at the other end when Bassett were able to keep the ball in the attacking third. Midway through the period he rolled his man down the left before the cutting the ball across the box from the byline. Stu Hemsley and Matty Bennett had darted into the danger area in an attempt to meet the cross but both made their runs slightly early and the ball was played just behind the pair.
Nine minutes before the break Bassett were caught overplaying just inside their own half and the hosts nearly took advantage. After winning possession in the middle, Dave Percival played through Minnis down the left. He struck from just outside the box but couldn't hit the target as the ball sailed inches over.
Playing up the hill in the second period, it was no surprise that Bassett were put under a period of intense pressure early.
Corner after corner followed with the hosts eventually turning one in the 49th minute. A minute prior though Craig Brown's low inswinger was parried by Domm and not cleared by the Bassett defence. With the ball bouncing around the six yard box, it looked certain Trowbridge would take the lead but luckily Domm was able to scramble it wide.
Trowbridge got their goal following a corner from the left taken by Percival. His initial cross was blocked but fell straight back to him and he the ball back into the danger area. Again it wasn't hacked clear and Minnis took advantage, firing in on the turn from 12 yards.
Injury forced Sam Lawro to be replaced by Marcus Neal just before the hour. Then with 64 minutes on the clock, a quick change of pace was enough for Magani to beat Smith down the right. The defender hacked Magani down what seemed to be a yard into the penalty area. However only a free kick was awarded by referee Light and Bassett failed to muster a chance from that.
Nine minutes later Steve Yeardley's looping header was punched clear by Eddie Quelsh after Hemsley's free kick had sailed all the way to the far post.
Bassett then brought youngster Luke Jones on for Mark King, moving Yeardley up into midfield where he could have more of an influence on the game.
Nine minutes from time Neal struck. His looping header at the far post rebounded back off the bar after he had connected with Magani's cross. The ball wasn't cleared though and fell to him again on the edge of the box. After taking a touch, he struck a low left-footed drive that nestled into the far corner after taking a deflection off of a Trowbridge defender.
The home side's frustrations were evident quickly following the equaliser. A minute later Brown was booked after kicking the ball away following the decision to award Bassett a free kick before teammate Gordon Saunderson was cautioned less than 60 seconds later for a lunge at Magani, which the forward was luckily able to avoid.
Bassett were then denied another penalty appeal after Magani was again brought down in the box.
Three minutes from time an Andy Hallett foul brought a reaction from Dean Barker which was enough to see the pair booked and a brief melee to be started.
Minnis almost had the last laugh though but great pressure from Domm forced him to hit wide in the last minute. Barker's first time effort from the edge of the box slowly travelled across the face of goal, allowing the host's scorer the chance to redirect the ball into the back of the net.
Domm gave chase across the box too though and his presence closed the angle Minnis had to shoot and his deft touch from close range went just wide.
With the point, Bassett end a barren run of three straight defeats and remain in the hunt for seventh place and could possibly still end up sixth - the target Paul Burke set his team. If Bassett had been awarded one of the two arguably stone wall penalties though, it could have been different.
Scoop's Man of the Match: John Magani â€“ wreaked havoc with his pace and was unlucky not to earn at least one penalty. Magani was arguably the best player on the pitch.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 â€“ After an indifferent start to the second half and an average first 45 minutes Bassett picked their game up and gave Trowbridge a real scare towards the end. It was a solid performance from a much changed Bassett which showed their opponents how effort is more important than star quality.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Monday 21st September 2020 at 11:42