Hardwicke Playing Fields, 24th April 2010
For the best part of two decades Steve Thomas was a key contributor for Wootton Bassett Town. And his lengthy spell at Rylands Way coincided with the most successful period in the club's history as Bassett went from County League also-rans to Hellenic League mainstays.
Whilst he has long since hung up his boots, his family continue to deliver for Bassett and on Saturday it was the turn of son Ryan to lock up a top three finish for the club in Hellenic League Division One West this season
His goal on the hour mark was the only one of the game as Dave Turner's side edged out a highly competitive Tytherington Rocks to all but secure a return to the Hellenic Premier.
And it came just three minutes after his introduction to the game. Terry Adams collected a throw in deep into the hosts' territory, and with the home defence being sucked over to the left hand side, Thomas was left to roam free. An inch perfect square ball from Adams picked the youngster out before he produced a precise, poised finish that beat Mark Stutter, the ball nestling in the bottom left hand corner.
It was a far from comfortable win though, as Tytherington appeared intent on rocking the boat at the top of the table. Forward Marcus Taylor in particular was a thorn in the visitor's side, as they placed Bassett under considerable pressure throughout the match.
Yet – as has been the norm this season – the Bassett backline was impenetrable. Despite earning corner after corner and probing deep into the visitor's territory throughout, Tytherington failed to trouble Stewart Thompson all afternoon.
At the other end though, Bassett were equally frustrated. Whilst chances on occasion came, they were often wasted.
In the opening half, Sam Collier and Ryan Banks sent free headers agonizingly over with Stutter nowhere to be found, whilst Craig Shand – having surged past his man – could only muster a shot that the home 'keeper found himself equal to whilst one-on-one.
Although not helped by some particularly partisan officiating from referee Carl Williams, the frustration at their own performance was evident as the half time whistle came with the scores still deadlocked. After all, in order to keep their title hopes alive, three points were what Bassett required.
Cue Thomas though. Replacing Fraser Joyce on the right wing, the diminutive winger immediately added a spark that had been missing prior to his introduction. Adams' pinpoint pass was superb, but Thomas' decision to hang out wide and not get drawn in with play on the opposite the wing was crucial. It allowed him to remain unmarked, and with that much time and space on the ball when it did eventually reach him there was only going to be one outcome.
Nerves continued to affect Turner's side though in spite of the lead. With the chance to settle the outcome once and for all with quarter of an hour remaining, the in-form Collier headed wide whilst unmarked following a perfectly weighted Craig Bowden free kick.
Thereon after it was backs to the walls, but – as earlier – the defence held out.
A win next week in the final game of the season at Easington Sports could give Bassett the title – depending of course on the outcome of Headington Amateur's visit to Slimbridge.
Whatever happens though, it is hoped this could be the dawn of an era as successful as Steve Thomas' heyday.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Ryan Thomas – took his finish, which wound up winning the game, brilliantly and made a lasting impact on the game despite his introduction with ten minutes gone in the second half.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – at times a nervy performance, but Bassett defended superbly throughout, securing the three points and ensuring that their title dream remains well and truly alive.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38