Rylands Way, 31st December 2011
Three points would have been a fantastic way to finish 2011 for Wootton Bassett Town, especially given their last two results. But they were ultimately forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with visitors Brimscombe and Thrupp after Matt Bown's penalty cancelled out John Peacock's goal for the visitors.
Despite Purton's win at Old Woodstock Town, which increases the gap between them and Bassett, who hold three games in hand, to 11 points, the draw with the Gloucestershire side was good news. How Dave Turner's team would respond to the demoralising 5-2 loss at the hands of New College four days prior was anybody's guess. Luckily, it was with a praiseworthy performance.
The one disappointment for Bassett though was that Ethan Delaney is now likely to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines after picking up a red card midway through the second half for violent conduct. The lively forward had been brought on as a substitute during the first half after Russell Driver had picked up a knock, and was immediately causing the Brimscombe defence problems.
After the hosts had fell behind, it was Delaney's surging run that won Bassett their penalty on the hour mark after visiting â€˜keeper Adam Thomas upended him in the box.
Three minutes later, he was off. Kris Murray, noticing that he could do little to stop Delaney, began clipping the forward's heels in order to wind the youngster up. Then when beaten by the forward's pace, Murray cynically wrapped his arms round his opponent to halt his progress. Now at boiling point, Delaney took out his frustrations on his tormentor, connecting with an arm to Murray's face that left referee Livingstone no choice but to issue his red card.
Some would call Murray's actions clever. Bassett had been reduced to ten men and their main threat dismissed. His job was done. However, you would hope that he takes no pride from the way in which he helped engineer the red card. That's not to excuse Delaney's actions for he helped neither himself nor his team, but Murray's unsporting behaviour does not belong on a football pitch either.
The incident soured an otherwise enjoyable encounter. Both sides, playing positive football, crafted numerous opportunities during the first half.
Just six minutes in Ian Probert's close range header at the back post was tipped over the bar by James Domm, who did well to recover after having seen David Woodfield's corner float over his head.
At the other end a neat one-two between Matt Bown, whose presence made a noticeable difference after his absence on Tuesday, and Alex Green presented the former with a clear opportunity in front of goal, but the midfielder dragged his shot wide of the left post from 15 yards.
Brimscombe then began to assert themselves more and should have taken the lead when just quarter of an hour had elapsed. The impressive Lee Pritchard showed excellent vision, providing a sweeping crossfield pass from the left wing, which split the Bassett defence. Woodfield beat the advancing Domm to the loose ball and attempted a delicate chip over the â€˜keeper, but he failed to keep it down, lifting his effort narrowly over.
Moments later Pritchard was presented with a free header from six yards out, but could only head straight into the â€˜keeper's hands after Woodfield had done well to keep the ball in play.
Pritchard had an ever better chance to score five minutes before half time. A clearance from his defence caught Bassett out, and Pritchard had just the â€˜keeper to beat. He went for a lob from 20 yards that had Domm beaten, yet fortunately for the hosts the midfielder directed his shot inches wide of the post.
There was still time for Bassett to attempt to break the deadlock, but Thomas's safe hands kept out Delaney's snap shot and a clever front post flick from James Turner.
However, it didn't take long after the restart for the complexion of the game to change. Receiving a sideways pass on the edge of the box in the 49th minute, Mike Beckingham got the ball out of his feet and drove to the byline with intent. There, he lifted a delicate, looping cross towards the right hand post where an unmarked Peacock was waiting to provide a simple header into the back of the net.
The response from Bassett was sharp. A quick give and go between Green and Bown opened up space for the forward just inside the box and Thomas was forced to do well to keep out a low drive. Seconds later, Bown's through ball set Delaney off to the races. After beating the last defender, Thomas was forced off his line and a slight touch on the forward's leg sent him tumbling. Penalty was the decision and Bown stepped up, coolly dispatching the spot kick down the middle of the goal.
The red card that soon followed seemed to swing things back in Brimscombe's favour. But they failed to make their man advantage count, and it was Bassett who came closest to finding a winner.
After cutting inside from his position on the left, Bown took the opportunity to open fire and only narrowly missed the target from 25 yards out. Then seven minutes from time Alex Harper's low cutback from the right wing evaded all the visiting defender's, eventually falling kindly for Lee Bowen. Twelve yards out, the odds seemed stacked in Bowen's favour, but he struck straight at Thomas.
With the clock dying down, Brimscombe were convinced they should have been awarded a penalty when Peacock came under a heavy challenge from Sam Reason. However, Reason – filling in at left back with Liam Edmondson injured - clearly won the ball with his last ditch tackle. Peacock's frustrations eventually got the better of him as he was later dismissed for a second yellow card for sharing his thoughts with the referee's assistant.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Matt Bown – showed why his absence on Tuesday was felt with a typically solid performance. He linked up well with the frontmen, supplying the critical pass that would lead to the foul on Delaney, and caused problems for the Brimscombe defence with his probing runs.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – a much improved performance from the New College game. Bassett coped well after going down to ten men with around 25 minutes to go and, along with their opponents, managed to play some good football on a worn out pitch
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38