Rylands Way, 31st March 2009
Finally, Wootton Bassett Town grabbed the opportunity to close in on those teams above them as a Paul Hunt tap-in midway through the first half proved the difference against an extremely useful Cheltenham Saracens side.
Hunt may have provided the finishing touch, but only after Ryan Banks had done all the hard work.
A burst of pace enabled him to race onto Eddie Everett's through ball after the lofty midfielder outmuscled his marker. Banks then threaded the ball past the onrushing Tim Griffiths before Hunt ensured no defender was able to make a last second clearance off the line.
Manager Dave Turner was in for a nervous finish to the night though, with the visitors proving a threat and his side failing once again to kill the game off.
A minute before half time a superb diving save from Stewart Thompson prevented the scores from being levelled after Carl Griffiths was given too much time and allowed to thunder a shot in from 25-yards.
He was called into action just before the hour when Shaun Carter – who had a solid performance, despite having a disaster fashion-wise with his selection of boots – failed to control a misplaced through ball and substitute Freddie Latchford latched onto the loose ball.
However, the 'keeper was able to parry at the striker's feet, much to the disappointment of the assembled masses from Purton and Malmesbury.
Two chances then fell to Bassett to kill off the game, both of which were created by fine play from impressive debutant forward Max Etheridge.
On the first occasion he held the ball up well in the left corner before cutting the ball back for substitute Lee Moulton. The winger received the ball in a perfect position on his preferred right foot but rushed himself, dragging his effort wide of the left post.
With twenty minutes to go he chased down what seemed to be a lost cause in the opposite corner, snatched the ball off the defender before providing an incisive inside pass to Richie Carter.
The midfielder managed to find the target but Griffiths palmed the effort wide with the ball appearing to be headed for the far corner.
Saracens again failed to take advantage of a defensive error with just under 15 minutes to go when Liam Edmundson failed to factor in the famous Bassett bobble, allowing Carl Griffiths a clear run at Thompson.
Pressure from Shaun Carter coupled with the 'keeper closing him down meant that he had to rush his effort though,and Thompson made another composed save, this time keeping the ball out with his legs.
Desperate for an equaliser, the visitors continued to throw men forward, often leaving them short at the back.
And this was duly taken advantage of with five minutes left when a lofted Tom Ritchie through ball after a wasted corner set Steve Yeardley free. After beating the last man, he tried to take the ball around Griffiths but was brought down in the process.
The resulting penalty crossed the goalline, but only for a corner after the 'keeper made amends for his error and palmed the ball away after guessing correctly low to his left.
In the end it meant little though as Bassett recorded their twelfth clean sheet of the year and a long overdue win after a five game wait.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Max Etheridge – the youngster was a presence up front – something which has been missing since Shaun Terry's injury, linking up well with those around him and he came close to marking his debut with a goal but was denied by Griffiths early in the first half.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – a professional display, which resulted in a much needed win. Despite two defensive errors – due to a bouncy pitch – which created chances for the visitors, the defence was solid as a rock, whilst the rest of the team battled superbly.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38