M Bown, S Collier
Addison Road, 1st May 2010
Despite doing all that they had to by defeating Easington Sports 2-1 thanks to Sam Collier's late winner, the Hellenic League Division One West title ultimately eluded Wootton Bassett Town as Slimbridge secured a 1-0 win over Headington Amateurs to pip Dave Turner's side on goal difference.
However that news did not dampen the celebrations for the second place finish secured a return to the Hellenic Premier after a five year hiatus that until this season was characterised by a mixture of heartache, frustration and underachievement.
And promotion was secured in some style. A month and a half ago, such an achievement – let alone finishing level on points with the eventual winners – seemed improbable after a draw with Trowbridge Town brought to an end a turgid three game homestand that saw just two points earned.
But seven successive wins later – a streak including triumphs over the eventual champions and Purton as well as the victory at in form Easington – Bassett are up.
It was another outstanding battling display that ended the campaign in fitting fashion.
There were nerves early on – most notably when Collier scuffed a close range effort straight at Kurt Fox whilst unmarked, but other than that it was a cool, calm and collected performance.
Only once in the first half did the hosts' threatening duo up front of Ricky Johnson and Lewis Travers – both of whom normally ply their trade with Southern League Woodford United – combine to breach the visiting defence. But even when they did Stewart Thompson was there to parry away superbly when the latter let loose.
The game appeared destined to go into the break deadlocked before a finish of some class from Matty Bown put Bassett in front.
Craig Shand's cross was not cleared and Bown pounced, firing left footed into the bottom right corner from 20 yards.
However, ten minutes after the restart an unstoppable 25 yard free kick from Steve Howkins pegged Bassett back.
But with the clock winding down a howler from Fox gifted Collier the winner. The keeper fluffed a kick outside his area and even tried batting the ball away with his hand – which would surely have seen him sent off for the second time this season against Turner's side – in desperation.
The Bassett front man was first to the ball and coolly rolled it into an empty net despite the attentions of two defenders. It was his 20th of the season – a fine achievement for someone who began the campaign at left back.
In injury time Ryan Thomas could have made it three, but his miss mattered little as Easington had no further chances.
The sound of the final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation. And deservedly so for a group of players who have arguably defied expectations.
Slimbridge may have taken the title – something they must be congratulated for as they are a quality outfit, who everyone at Bassett wishes the best to in their Challenge Cup final against Ardley United on Monday – but promotion is one hell of a consolation prize.
The hard work to preserve the club's place at step 5 begins in earnest, but before that it is a must to revel in the success of this season.
Dave, Al Blake, Tucks and everyone who has donned the blue and yellow jersey this year - thank you and congratulations, because you certainly deserve it!
Scoop's Man of the Match: Jon Holloway – phenomenal once more at the back as he helped make two Southern League forwards look extremely ordinary.
Scoop Rating: 10/10 – because WE ARE GOING UP!!!!
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
M Bown, S Collier