S Collier (3), C Shand, R Thomas
Rylands Way, 30th March 2010
For the past few seasons it has been Wootton Bassett Town having to play catch up – a situation that has undoubtedly helped ensure their quest for a return to the Hellenic Premier Division has till this season proven to be futile.
A routine 5-0 home win over Launton Sports, which sent Dave Turner's side to the top of the table means, however, that the boot is now on the other foot: Bassett, instead of being the hunter, are now the hunted, and the pressure is squarely on those now behind them in Hellenic Division One West to make up the ground.
There can be no room for complacency though. After all, three of Bassett's four rivals in the title race – Purton, Slimbridge and Headington Amateurs – all possess at least two games in hands and can make up the distance between themselves and the current leaders, whilst there are also a quartet of tough games to come before season's end.
And if those are to be won, better performances than the one put in against the league's basement dwellers will be required. The scoreline may have hinted at a hammering, but that has been par for the course whenever Launton – who recorded their first victory of the season just last Saturday – have lined up to play.
The match had the air of a pre-season friendly, with the hosts playing at a seemingly pedestrian pace and the margin of victory could, and should, have been higher.
It took just eight minutes for the deadlock to be broken as Craig Shand judged his volley from 15 yards out perfectly following a powerful left-wing cross from Matty Bown.
Bown was again the creator just after the quarter hour mark. A timely switch of play stretched the Launton defence, and Bown's lofted pass had the beating of the last defender. Sam Collier then raced onto the loose ball before lobbing onrushing 'keeper Nick Lacey from 25 yards for the first of an eventual hat-trick.
His second came ten minutes before the break following a period in which Bassett had constantly been knocking on the door, but had failed to convert their pressure into a meaningful chance.
It was textbook route one football that eventually put the result beyond doubt before the half time whistle had been blown. Stewart Thompson's punt upfield was flicked on by Shand to Collier, who again had beaten the offside trap. He bore down on goal and coolly dinked the ball over Lacey.
He wasn't finished there though. Ten minutes after the restart a rampaging Luke Sharps was felled in the box after latching onto Ryan Banks' inside pass to give Collier the perfect opportunity to wrap up only the second hat-trick of the season for a Bassett player. And he made no mistake, firing straight down the middle.
Many would have predicted the floodgates to have well and truly opened at this point, but poor play in the final third meant that the final goal of the evening would have to wait until two minutes from time.
Launton were virtually camped inside their own half, but overplaying from the hosts and their insistence on playing in tight spaces meant the damage inflicted was in the end relatively limited.
Ultimately it was youngster Ryan Thomas – after having squandered a couple of chances after coming on – who would complete the scoring. Shand laid the ball back, and Thomas produced an exquisite curling effort from 25 yards that found the top right corner.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Sam Collier – increased his goals tally for the season to sixteen with a hat-trick, his first two goals being finely taken.
Scoop Rating: 5/10 – three points were what mattered most, but an improvement will be needed if Easington are to be seen off on Saturday.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
S Collier (3), C Shand, R Thomas