S Collier, J Holloway
Rylands Way, 10th April 2010
With a finish that was as cool as they come, Sam Collier made history for Wootton Bassett Town. More importantly, his winning goal moved his side one step closer to a return to the Hellenic Premier Division.
Ten minutes into the second half, with the scores knotted at one apiece against fellow title challengers Slimbridge –who had won all eight of the preceding encounters between the two clubs, the defender-turned-forward – with his weaker right foot – produced a perfectly weighted lob from the edge of the area that beat onrushing 'keeper Dave Evans.
It wound up to be the decisive goal of the afternoon as Dave Turner's team triumphed by the odd goal in three to move back to the top of the table. And with Purton losing, the three points put Bassett's destiny further into their own hands.
Their afternoon started perfectly. Four minutes in, the visitors failed to deal with a corner, allowing James Turner to recycle the ball. His teasing lofted pass was perfectly placed, allowing both Chris Oram and Collier to flick the ball on unchallenged before Jon Holloway stabbed home from 12 yards with a first time effort.
It could – and perhaps should – have been two just minutes later. Holloway bravely kept an overhit Matty Bown free kick in play, but Craig Shand could only blast over from close range after the defender had headed the ball back across goal to him.
Bassett's start had undoubtedly caught Slimbridge off guard. However the visitors reacted with intent, pinning their hosts into their own half for the majority of the remaining time in the first half.
Yet, resolute defending – a staple of Turner's reign in the Rylands Way hotseat – limited them to a handful of half chances. The best the visiting side could muster prior to the break would come from a free kick on the stroke of half time, which Joe Tustain struck beautifully, but he could not beat Stewart Thompson, whose acrobatics ensured the ball found the roof rather than the back of the net.
The Bassett shotstopper – as good as they come in Division One West – though could do next to nothing to deny the forward shortly after the restart.
The equaliser was something of a gift as Bassett failed to clear the lines, despite having numerous opportunities to do so. But it took a finish of the finest quality to put the sides back on level terms.
From 30 yards, Tustain rifled a volley of the highest calibre into the top left corner that had Thompson rooted to the spot, unable to react. The strike made Arjen Robben's Champions League winner in the week look ordinary.
By now Bassett were on the ropes, but another teasing ball from Turner would lead to their second, stunning the visitors. Full back Shane Anson should have done far better in dealing with the ball. But with Collier breathing down his neck, he could only slice his clearance straight to the forward. And in the rich vein of form he finds himself in, there would be no denying Bassett's leading marksman.
Trailing once more, Slimbridge threw everything they had at Bassett in the dying stages. As in the first half though, they were met with spirited resistance.
Thompson was in imperious form, brilliantly denying substitute Andy Varnham's snap shot with a fine parry low to his left, before saving low from a venomous Tustain free kick with seven minutes to go.
The visitor's goalscorer – who seemed determined to cover every blade of Rylands Way grass in order to find his side an equaliser – proved himself a handful in the dying stages and deserved better when his right-wing cross was glanced agonizingly wide by Ross Langworthy.
But his – and his teammate's efforts – would ultimately prove to be in vain.
Those eight previous defeats to their Gloucestershire opponents? More than worth it for a victory of this magnitude.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Terry Adams – was everywhere for Bassett, stifling numerous Slimbridge attacks with his assured tackling, whilst also pulling the strings when his own side ventured forward.
Scoop Rating: 9/10 – at times it was backs to the walls stuff, but Bassett acquitted themselves brilliantly. For all Slimbridge's possession and time spent in the host's half, the relatively few clear cut chances they created shows how well Dave Turner's side defended. The display put on by both sides was a fine advert for Hellenic League football. Hopefully both sides will be able to meet again at a level higher next year.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
S Collier, J Holloway