Rylands Way, 18th February 2012
It had been three weeks since Wootton Bassett Town last kicked a ball in anger. And the effects of that impromptu break from action were clear to see as Dave Turner's side and opponents Hook Norton produced a forgettable encounter at Rylands Way, in which the hosts triumphed 1-0.
Befitting of a game of this quality, the decisive goal came from a calamitous mistake.
Six minutes before half time, Matty McGuiness floated a cross in from the right wing that, with no Bassett forward in a dangerous position in the box, should have caused the Hook Norton defence few problems. But in a moment of madness visiting full back Dan Cleevely decided to ignore ‘keeper Joe Murrell's call and attempted to head clear.
However, the timing of his jump was so poor that he ended up skewing his header past his own ‘keeper. The state of the pitch ensured Cleevely would not have to suffer the ignominy of scoring an own goal, but Matt Bown was able to race onto the loose ball and tap in from a yard out at the right post.
Moments of quality were few and far between throughout the entire match. Early on Bassett were much on the back foot, but the visitors failed to make their pressure count. The hosts' defence deserve a lot of credit for preventing Hook Norton from creating any meaningful chances, but their opponents were also guilty of failing to stretch the Bassett back four and provide a killer ball.
It was therefore against the run of play that the first opening came on the quarter hour mark. With his back to goal on the edge of the area, James Blake clipped a McGuiness pass through for strike partner Alex Green to race onto. The veteran forward beat the onrushing Murrell to the ball, deftly lifting it over his foe from a tight angle. But the ‘keeper had done enough to narrow the angle as Green failed to find the target
McGuiness went to ground under pressure in the box 15 minutes before the break, but his claims for a penalty were correctly turned down.
Having demanded a helping hand to help get themselves ahead, Bassett were then gifted one thanks to Cleevely's blunder. In the ascendancy, a second was frustratingly denied in first half stoppage time.
With arguably the best move of the match, Bown crossed from the left for Blake just inside the area. After demonstrating expert control, he squared to Craig Bowden, who had made a rampaging run from his full back position. The defender drilled the ball home with aplomb, but it mattered little for the flag had been raised for offside. How Bowden could have strayed the wrong side of the second last defender was incomprehensible considering he had made his run from deep, yet it turned out that the offence had been committed by Blake.
Neither side's performance level picked up following the restart. Once again the early going saw neither ‘keeper troubled. A speculative James Turner shot drifted inches wide, while Jamie Wyatt thumped well over from Jason Tillcock's dangerous looking cross.
Hook Norton eventually forced James Domm into action 65 minutes in. Having endured a relatively relaxing afternoon it could have been expected for the shotstopper to have been caught out when finally called upon. But in some style he kept his side ahead. Failing to clear, the ball fell to Daniel Poole 20 yards out, and the diminutive youngster struck a fine, first-time curling effort that looked destined for the top corner. Domm though, jumping off his back foot, twisted his body and acrobatically tipped the ball to safety.
The opportunity seemed to have given the visitors a lift and they embarked on a period of sustained pressure that brought numerous corners. Only from one did they nearly equalise, but Chris Tillcock's firm drive from 15 yards flew narrowly over.
Bassett will have few qualms about the ugliness of the victory, however. Three points is three points and ensured the home side moved up into sixth. Third place may be a tough ask, but it is still a possibility.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Kyle Pitts – the young full back justified his selection with a composed display. Pitts tackled well, rarely misplaced a pass and linked up well with Matty McGuiness and his replacement Russell Driver.
Scoop Rating: 6/10 – defensively the performance was sound as Hook Norton rarely ever threatened. Going forward, however, Bassett struggled to fashion meaningful opportunities. However, after four games without a win, who cares how the three points were earned.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38