Green Lane, 21st March 2009
Whilst losing to runaway leaders Hardwicke has been a common occurrence for most teams in Hellenic League Division West this season, Wootton Bassett Town have only themselves to blame after an extremely sluggish start to the second half allowed their hosts to score the only goal of the day.
The goal fell to Karl Palmer, who headed in a low Paul Carter corner that Stewart Thompson failed to come up with the ball. Palmer had easily lost his marker too, with the corner first being conceded after sloppy play at the back.
In a game bereft of any decent amount of chances, Bassett made Hardwicke work for their win, yet the performance left much to be desired.
Hardwicke were intent on playing a long ball game, with the ball spending the majority of its time in the air, and they successfully sucked Bassett into playing a similar style of football despite the pitch being perfect for a neat, passing style.
Had Hardwicke not completely dominated the aerial battle too, then perhaps Bassett would have got something from the game even though they fielded a makeshift attacking two following a spate of injuries that has left Dave Turner with severely depleted options up front.
He was left to make do with Steve Yeardley and Lee Moulton, who successfully harried the Hardwicke back three into a number of stray passes but failed to create any real opening all afternoon.
The loss leaves Bassett in a position where they can ill afford to drop many points in the run to the end of the season if their promotion ambitions are to be achieved.
With Malmesbury winning yet again too, it means Bassett will no longer be able to leapfrog them even if maximum points are taken from the games in hand.
The next few weeks don't get any easier either with return fixtures against Letcombe, Purton and Kenny Regan's side, all of whom are in the mix for a top three finish and above Bassett as well as two games with the always competitive Cheltenham Saracens.
In a closely fought first half, neither side could really be separated, with the Bassett back four silencing one of the most prolific attacks in the division.
Two minutes in Shane Anson headed just over from a long Palmer through after Thompson came for the ball and missed before Palmer header wide at the far post from Carter's right wing corner.
That was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes, but with less than 120 seconds gone after the restart, the leaders put themselves in front with Bassett seemingly still in the changing rooms.
In order to try and grab an equaliser, Turner went for three men up front by introducing Paul Fisher for defender Luke Sharps, but this had little effect on the game, with the second half being littered merely with half chances.
Yeardley came closest for Bassett in the final fifteen minutes when a ball from the deep from Chris Oram was flicked on and the makeshift forward was able to beat 'keeper Dave Evans to the ball.
However, the ball took a huge bounce off the solid turf meaning he could not connect fully with his head and it looped agonisingly over.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Liam Edmundson – a tidy performance at full back from the youngster, who dealt well with what Hardwicke threw at him. Edmundson was competitive in the air as well as in the tackle.
Scoop Rating: 5/10 – neither side produced any quality football, but Bassett found themselves sucked into playing Hardwicke's game, and with their host's aerial dominance this proved ineffective. Defensively Bassett were strong though, and if it wasn't for a slack five minutes to open the second half a first goalless draw of the season would have been a likely outcome.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38