Rylands Way, 2nd April 2011
Elementary mistakes have been the downfall for Wootton Bassett Town more often than not when they have lost this season, the lack of thrashings during the course of their campaign attesting to that. And once again they played a role in their 2-1 defeat to promotion chasers Slimbridge, with both of the visitors' goals being very much avoidable.
But the Swans' three points were also influenced by some extremely questionable officiating, which left much to be desired.
The game's main flashpoint came six minutes before the half time whistle when Bassett were denied a stonewall penalty, while Slimbridge escaped not only having to face a spot kick but also playing the rest of the game at a numerical disadvantage.
Expert skill from Sam Packer allowed him to fly past right back Fred Ward with ease, putting the hosts in a three-on-two situation. After advancing down the wing, he slipped a pass inside to Tom Dingle, who was under the close attention of defender Tom Speers. Dingle confidently rolled his marker ten yards from goal, but while he prepared to fire at goal, the defender went to the floor and reached out to block the ball with his hands.
The handball was clear to the majority of the Rylands Way crowd, yet neither the referee nor his assistant managed to spot the blatant infraction, which denied Dave Turner's an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
The incident came at a crucial juncture of the match. Bassett had just survived a quarter hour long Slimbridge onslaught that had seen two efforts cleared off the line.
Still disgusted about the officials' mistake, Bassett lost their composure and found themselves behind in the 43rd minute. Controversy surrounded the goal too, with it appearing as though Ross Langworthy, who got the final touch, was offside. However, a home defence at sixes and sevens played a crucial role too.
Allowing the burly Marvyn Roberts the freedom to latch onto a routine ball over the top left ‘keeper Stewart Thompson exposed, and the home custodian was duly lobbed. Langworthy then slid in at the left upright to ensure the ball nestled in the back of the net.
The early stages of the first half had been a tentative affair, but the visitors began to assert their dominance, with their first clear chance coming when Ben Wood looped a header just over after a corner had only been half cleared.
In the 21st minute, Langworthy had Thompson beaten after shrugging off the attentions of Mark McMeeking, but an acrobatic clearance from Shaun Carter preserved parity.
Craig Bowden was next to dash the visitors' hopes when he scrambled the ball away off the line from a close range Roberts effort, after Thompson could only parry a stinging Langworthy drive.
The defensive heroics continued following the restart too. Rob Hine beat Thompson to Paul Carter's whipped in free kick, delivering a towering header which seemed destined to hit the roof of the net. But a despairing McMeeking headed clear before the loose ball was bundled away, Roberts once again having failed with the rebound.
A fantastic goal fashioned out of nothing then made it 1-1 on 56 minutes. Bowden clipped a clearance down the right wing. Although played more out of defensive necessity rather than an attempt to initiate an attack, it fell perfectly for Dingle, whose intuitive diagonal run allowed him to lose the attention of his marker. Then, after bringing the ball down, he blazed an unstoppable drive from the right edge of the box past Dave Evans at his near post.
Slimbridge appeared rocked with Wood lunging in dangerously on Matt Boucher moments after the goal was scored. It was reckless and two-footed, but somehow he escaped with just a yellow card as punishment.
Soon after, Bassett were punished for lax discipline. A ball over the top split the defence, and Langworthy took full advantage, driving past McMeeking before sending a firm strike from 18 yards past Thompson.
Although once again rattled, Turner's side did not give up the ghost and came close to an equaliser ten minutes from time when Packer weaved his way through the Swans' defence only for his touch to elude him ten yards from goal. His weak effort was deflected by Speers and collected easily by Evans.
Compounding a frustrating afternoon for Bassett was Witney United's convincing win away against Fairford Town. It therefore means the Blanketmen's visit to Rylands Way on Tuesday is of huge importance. There is no better time to break a six game winless league streak.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Tom Dingle – took his goal brilliantly and his intelligent play gave the Slimbridge defence trouble. This was most notable when his hold up play forced Slimbridge defender Tom Speers to take such drastic action and handle the ball. Unfortunately this was not punished.
Scoop Rating: 5/10 – although let down by poor officiating, the two goals Bassett conceded were primarily a result of their own slack play. That will need to be eradicated on Tuesday if the team are to take a huge step towards securing their survival.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38