Rylands Way, 20th February 2010
Wootton Bassett Town's unbeaten run in Hellenic League Division One West was always going to come to an end. Yet, boss Dave Turner will have undoubtedly have been extremely unhappy at the manner in which their 16 game streak was curtailed, and equally irked at the fact it came against neighbours Cricklade Town – the last team to have inflicted defeat upon Bassett in the league way back in September.
There can be no denying that the hosts' shabby performance – following an impressive 3-0 midweek victory over Clanfield – was primarily to blame, although in fairness Cricklade deserve much credit for a near faultless performance.
Proceedings got off to an ignominious start for Bassett as they fell behind with less than a minute on the clock. And it was a real comedy of errors that gifted Cricklade the advantage.
Winger Adam O' Bree brushed aside the attentions of both Steve Groom and Fraser Joyce far too easily in the left corner before shooting timidly from a tight angle. However, Stewart Thompson allowed the ball to seep through his legs to afford ex-Bassett man Sam Reason the simplest of tap-ins.
Sturdy defending from the visitors – led magnificently by assured youngster Dane Moulden – ensured Bassett failed to muster an opening of their own until the final ten minutes of the half.
But even then, Liam Byfield could only drag his shot across the face of goal after a neat inside pass from Joyce, before a Ryan Banks effort from a tight angle was batted wide by Ben Goodey. From the resulting corner, Liam Edmundson rose highest to meet the ball, but his far post sailed agonizingly wide.
A double change at half time appeared to have reaped dividends for the home side, when Andy Philpott bundled the ball home after a perfectly weighted Luke Sharps free kick had been redirected across goal.
But in switching to a five man midfield, Turner's side proved to be far too susceptible to the counter attack. And with the centre of the pitch cut up, affording the visitor's wide men more freedom proved a recipe for disaster.
Twice before taking the lead for good, Aaron Maximen had wasted opportunities when clean through on goal.
But he made amends for these misses with 69 minutes on the clock. A counter initiated by 'keeper Goodey quickly saw the ball at the other end, and a right wing cross could only be punched away by Thompson. The ball fell invitingly to the unmarked Maximen and he fired into the bottom corner from eighteen yards.
Moments later, a through ball to Steve Winchcombe put the forward one-on-one with Thompson. However, after rounding the 'keeper, he created too much of a tight angle to be able slide the ball into the back of the net, and his cut back was hacked away by a despairing Sharps.
At the other end, little was being produced, with the best opportunity falling to Philpott. He could only guide a header from Sam Collier's left wing cross narrowly off target though.
Instead, it could have been more for the visitors. Winchombe once again raced clear of the defence and rounded Thompson, but lost his footing with an empty goal at his mercy, before a superb save kept out O' Bree's powerful volley after another decisive break.
The loss – coupled with Cheltenham Saracens' convincing 2-0 victory over Purton – means Bassett missed out on the opportunity to go into first, and instead they slip back down into fourth.
With a final total of at least 60 points – if not more given the favourable nature of their fellow frontrunners' run-ins - a must if a return to the Hellenic Premier is to be achieved, Bassett's final nine fixtures should all be of the cup final nature.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Ryan Banks – a tricky decision given that there were no standouts for Bassett on an afternoon to forget.
Scoop Rating: 4/10 – a truly bad day at the office for Dave Turner's side. Cricklade made better use of the conditions and took full advantage of Bassett mistakes.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38