Larges Lane, 15th March 2011
Courtesy of one of their best performances of the season so far, Wootton Bassett Town earned a hugely welcome point as they held in-form Wokingham and Emmbrook, who thumped Highworth Town 6-1 on Saturday despite playing away from home, to a scoreless draw. Had it not been for the crossbar denying Craig Bowden with minutes remaining, they would have left Berkshire with all three points, which they would have been good value for.
It is this kind of results and performances on the road that Dave Turner's side have been struggled to achieve so far this season, which is arguably all that separates them from the Satsumas, who were also promoted last season.
Although the determination and desire to get a result has always been there, more often than not a lapse in concentration and break down in discipline has cost them dear.
Not on this night though.
The hosts' chances were limited thanks to a consummate all round performance. In spite of going up against a five man midfield for most of the match, Bassett's midfield four hustled and harried Wokingham's playmakers throughout the course of the game, breaking up their attempts to get the ball on the deck and play pretty football. Up front, Sam Collier, Tom Dingle and wingers Ethan Delaney and Matt Bown, were thorns in the home side's defence, who did not have such an easy day as they did against the Worthians.
Most of all though, Bassett's back four were supreme. Neither Liam Edmundson nor Shaun Carter at centre half fell for the trap set by Wokingham, who played just one forward throughout, while full backs Richie Carter and Mark McMeeking were commanding in the air and confident going forward.
They did survive one scare early on though when one of Larges Lane's notorious bobbles deceived ‘keeper Dominic Teague, allowing Luke Lee a shot at an open goal. However, a despairing dive from Shaun Carter did just enough to deflect the ball wide for a corner.
Both teams matched each other blow for blow as a midfield battle developed. And when rare opportunities appeared for either side, they were merely half chances. Midway through the period Dean Thomas rolled his marker brilliantly before firing on the turn from the edge of the area, but Teague comfortably held
Ten minutes before half time, Bassett's best opening of the half came as Delaney, who was in imperious form, cut in from the left and wriggled his way past two defenders. The ball sat up perfectly for him 25 yards out, and his firmly struck effort went narrowly wide of the left hand post.
Shortly after a beautiful touch from Dingle following a Matt Boucher cross-field ball presented the recent signing with an opening, but his shot from a tight angle in the right hand side of the box was parried away to safety by Stuart Harris.
Seconds after the restart, a Boucher free kick from the deep was not dealt with by the home defence, who allowed it to bounce across the face of goal, the ball narrowly avoiding nestling in the bottom right corner.
As legs and minds tired, the match opened up. Yet at a time when usually at their most vulnerable, Bassett held the fort valiantly, surrendering just the one clear cut chance in the middle section of the second period. That fell in the 71st minute to the tricky Sam Whiting, who weaved his way the visitors' midfield, before seeing an initial effort blocked. Edmundson could only produce a half clearance, the ball falling once more to Whiting, but after surging into the box, he could not find the requisite power to fire past the assured Teague.
The introduction of Bowden for fellow youngster Delaney could have been perceived as a negative response from Turner as the clock wound down, but the substitute almost won the visitors the match with three minutes to go.
Pushing for a victory, Wokingham had sent a further man up front, opting for a three man defence. And the gaps this left in the channels were taken advantage of. Bowden set Collier free down the left, further stretching the Sumas, and he met the forward's inch-perfect cross with a firm header from ten yards out that had Harris beaten. However, the ball's trajectory was slightly too high, and struck the crossbar.
The rebound fell invitingly for fellow sub Adam Topping, but a heavy first touch from the Wiltshire under-18 player allowed the hosts defence to recover, and his snap shot was deflected just wide.
Injury time saw Sam Duffelen fire across goal and wide for the hosts, while Collier sent a shot on the turn narrowly over as neither side were capable of breaking the stalemate.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Shaun Carter – in fine form at centre back, saving Bassett from falling behind early with a goalline clearance, while helping nullify a side who had racked up nine goals in their previous two games with disciplined defending.
Scoop Rating: 8/10 - it may appear to be a high mark for a game which was drawn rather than won, but this was an outstanding, complete performance against a side whose form has been extremely good this season. From front to back, there was not one player who did not impress. Here's hoping this continues.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38