S Collier (2)
Tithe Farm Sports and Social Club, 23rd October 2010
If Ian Holloway was asked to describe Wootton Bassett Town's 2-1 victory against Rayners Lane in the Hellenic League Challenge Cup second round, he would undoubtedly have compared it to pulling not the best looking of birds. But having missed experiencing the sweet sensations of victory for the best part of a month, Dave Turner's side would have taken whatever they could get.
At times, it certainly wasn't pretty. Particularly so during the opening quarter of an hour when the home side took the lead, taking advantage of a Bassett side who seemed bereft of confidence and organisation.
After seeing a long range effort of his deflected narrowly over by Shaun Carter, Ben Gill was gifted the easiest of the finishes from the ensuing corner. Paul Leslie's set piece certainly wasn't the best ever as he failed to put any kind of height on his kick, but it seemed to do the trick as two Bassett defenders swung and missed the leather. Unmarked and six yards out, Gill couldn't miss and he duly steered the ball home much to Turner's dismay.
Moments later it could have been two as Rayners Lane broke quickly after Terry Adams had his pocket picked in the middle of the park. Dene Gardner was the one who came away with the ball, and after a give-and-go with Mark Wooley, he shot powerfully from the edge of the area, but could only manage to blaze over.
Having taken some time to settle, Bassett eventually began to create chances of their own. Twelve Minutes before the break, a neat pass from Adams presented Matt Bown with an opening on the edge of the area and his low drive travelled across the face of goal and inches wide of the left post.
Then on the stroke of half time the visitors were level thanks to the prolific Sam Collier. Rayners Lane were guilty of failing to clear their lines and Bown delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right wing that Collier connected with, and the forward's looping header from eighteen yards sailed into the top right corner.
The equaliser seemed to buoy Bassett as they came out a much improved team during the second half. They were more comfortable and less wasteful in possession and began to assert a level of territorial dominance.
However, they were not able to convert into meaningful chances, and on a huge pitch were extremely susceptible to being caught on the break.
After a swift counter in the 55th minute, a Woolley cross was volleyed towards goal by Gill, but another timely deflection meant Stewart Thompson was not forced into action.
Five minutes later, Woolley was once again in the thick of action as he pulled the ball back for full-back Damian Cruikshank, but the diminutive defender could only drive his effort into the side netting.
Thompson was then called upon to make an assured save as he held firm from Dean Ryan's glancing header following a Gill corner.
Bassett's bad habits returned for a brief period midway through the half. Having been introduced to the game a couple minutes earlier, Liam Edmondson was caught dithering on the ball inside his own box after a poor call from Thompson. This allowed Dene Gardner to dispossess him easily before quickly turning and shooting, but fortunately the Bassett custodian was able to parry wide.
Soon after – with possession conceded cheaply again, the magnificent Cruikshank had the ‘keeper beaten all ends up, as he blasted the ball towards goal from range. His thunderbolt though cannoned back out off the woodwork.
That let off allowed Bassett to have the last laugh, and Collier supplied the winner with fifteen minutes remaining. Reminiscent of his first, it came from a perfectly weighted cross, this time from Craig Bowden, who had been brought on as a makeshift forward. After cutting inside from the right, Bowden's left foot delivery was sublime, and Collier produced a header to match from fifteen yards, redirecting the ball into the top right corner.
The hosts, however, would not give up without a fight and they forced countless corners in the dying seconds. But Bassett shoved their recent record late on aside and astutely saw out the remainder of the game to seal a timely victory.
It may not have been the most aesthetically pleasing, but it's a first notch on the bedpost this month, and that's all that matters.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Shaun Carter – imperious at the back, winning almost every aerial battle and he displayed a composure that has in recent weeks been missing. Having Chris Oram back with him certainly seemed to have helped.
Scoop Rating: 6/10 – it was not a vintage performance, with the display in the first half in particular being disjointed. However, Bassett's spirit showed as they not only came from behind, but also dealt brilliantly with a late onslaught from the hosts.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
S Collier (2)