Flying Monk Ground, 13th August 2011
This was not how Wootton Bassett Town's season was supposed to start. After a successful preseason, Dave Turner would have expected his side to hit the ground running. Instead, they did so with a painstaking thud, as local rivals Malmesbury Victoria recorded a comprehensive 3-0 victory.
Matters were made much, much worse by a terrible opening 25 minutes, which saw the hosts take the lead in sloppy fashion and Bassett reduced to nine men thanks to red cards earned in needless fashion by Mitch Wyatt and Luke Sharps.
Somewhat fortunately, Bassett survived a nervy first three minutes as they struggled to adapt to the Flying Monk Ground pitch and its painfully slow surface.
Not more than sixty seconds in, Adam Corcoran's header intended for the arms of Stewart Thompson died on the thick turf, allowing Paul Baines to nip in and beat the Bassett custodian to the ball. Yet his toe poke from twelve yards rolled agonisingly wide, much to the visitors relief.
Mark Field then threatened, cutting inside Craig Bowden on the left before curling an effort narrowly over.
However the Vics eventually broke the deadlock just before the quarter hour mark. Bobby Hunt's free kick from the deep fell to Field on the left edge of the box. The imposing forward miscued his shot, skewing the effort towards safety, but an unaccounted for Neil Fisher was on hand at the far post to bundle home from close range.
It was almost two minutes later when Matt Bown's attempted clearing header fell perfectly for Fisher on the edge of the box, but a phenomenal acrobatic save from Thompson ensured the fiercely struck volley rattled the bar rather than found the back of the net.
With their backs against the walls, Bassett self destructed in a ten minute spell of fury. Firstly, in the 18th minute, Wyatt launched himself into a tackle with both feet raised and was duly dismissed.
Then, having won a header cleanly, Sharps inexplicably threw an elbow in the direction of the opponent he was challenging for the ball with. Referee Carlisle appeared oblivious to this action, but a frantically waved flag from his assistant ensured the veteran defender was not to get away with his indiscretion.
Firmly behind the eight ball, Bassett surprisingly were in the ascendancy as the first half drew to a close, Malmesbury unable to effectively create chances despite their two man advantage thanks to their extremely direct style of play. But for all their play inside the final third, the visitors were only able to eke out the one good chance prior to the culmination of the period.
On the half hour, it appeared as though an equaliser was on the cards as a sweeping move down the left side between Bown and Ethan Delaney unlocked the home defence, and the former fired low from the edge of the area. 'Keeper Mike Alexander was only able to parry, and the ball fell at the feet of an onrushing and unmarked Sam Packer at the far post. However, his firmly struck side foot effort was somehow blocked on the line and Malmesbury were eventually able to scramble the ball away for a corner.
Packer again came close shortly after the restart, firing into the side netting after Delaney had set him free. But any hopes of getting back into the game were all but destroyed in the 51st minute as Baines headed home Jack Ducker's finely weighted cross.
On the hour Malmesbury were reduced to ten men when ex-Bassett midfielder Carl Taylor was dismissed for a stamp on Delaney. However, this benefited Bassett little, as the speedy youngster was forced to withdraw. Only a pair of half chances were fashioned thereafter, with Bown and James Turner failing to test Alexander's abilities to the full.
With quarter of an hour to go, a decisive breakaway made it three. A mishit Bown corner was hastily cleared, and Baines sped forward before cutting back from the byline for Fisher to slot home.
Max Sparrow's wastefulness prevented the score from getting any worse late on. The midfielder danced his way past four Bassett defenders to present himself with a one-on-one opportunity, but he blasted well over.
There will be little time to dwell on this nightmare of an afternoon, with Old Woodstock Town visiting Rylands Way on Tuesday. Thankfully so too, as this was a day best forgotten.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Sam Packer - covered every blade of grass as he assisted both defence and attack with vigour; unfortunate not to find the back of the net in the first half.
Scoop Rating: 4/10 - Bassett battled well with nine men, but they should not have had to do so for three quarters of the match. Malmesbury were no great shakes, highlighted by their inability to unlock the Bassett defence for a lengthy spell, despite their numerical advantage. However, two inexplicable rushes of blood to the head ultimately undermined the visitors.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38