Mark Barnes, Matt Bown, Jack Ellis, Own Goal
Cinder Lane, 18th August 2012
Wootton Bassett Town edged a seven goal thriller on a sweltering afternoon against Fairford Town thanks to a rampant attacking display that saw them score three goals in a decisive twenty-five minute spell. Dave Turner decided to take a risk, switching to a 3-4-3 formation at half time, and his gamble paid off decisively as the forward trio of Matt Bennett, Mark Barnes and Shaun Terry caused the home side's young defence all kinds of problems.
The decision to sacrifice one defender had more to do with Fairford's decision to go with a lone centre forward. However the change provided huge dividends as Bassett attacked with a vigour and fluency that had been missing in a bitty first half.
Coming out of the break with the game knotted at a goal apiece, the visitors didn't take long to grab their first lead of the afternoon, scoring on 48 minutes. Terry sent a quick free kick into the channel, which Barnes latched onto. After advancing to the byline, he cut the ball across ball and Jack Ellis – who had entered the fray as a half time substitute – bundled it in from close range.
It took no time for Fairford to equalise though as Dane Moulden's left-wing cross was headed in by an unmarked Dan Bailey at the far post. On this occasion the tactical shift worked against Bassett, as the diminutive Bailey was left in acres of space, the visitor's defence having drifted over towards the wing from which the cross came.
Nonetheless Bassett regained supremacy quickly. Twice Barnes nearly took advantage of Fairford's inability to clear from corners, arrowing firmly struck drives narrowly off target, while Steve Yeardley saw two headers come close.
Eventually the ball found its way into the back of the net. Yeardley cleverly flicked on Adam Corcoran's forward ball, and Barnes raced onto it before coolly slotting beneath Ben Mitchell. A minute later the lead was 4-2. A strong challenge from Terry deep in Fairford territory had the home side on the back foot. Bennett then gained possession, driving down the right wing before sending a teasing cross into the box that was diverted in by an unfortunate Jack Williams.
The lead could have been extended further, Bennett firing over from 25 yards with Mitchell stranded in no-man's land after failing to come up with the ball. With eleven minutes remaining Matt Bown's through ball split the defence. Shaun Terry was the recipient of the pass and needed only to square to Barnes for a simple tap-in. However, having failed to get his name on the scoresheet the veteran decided to go for glory, but blazed over from an acute angle.
Still attracting trouble, all the home defence could do was watch when James Turner sent a curling effort towards the top corner from long range, but the midfielder missed by a fraction.
There then came a reverse in momentum.
With time winding down the hosts threw increasing numbers forward, and were only prevented from cutting the deficit with meaningful time remaining thanks to a string of last ditch blocks.
They did reduce arrears with a minute of normal time left, in bizarre fashion. Receiving a throw in from the right wing, Nathan Gambling rolled marker Shaun Carter before sending a fine curling effort towards goal. â€˜Keeper James Domm pulled off a fine, acrobatic save that appeared to have sent the ball towards safety. However, it took a strange bounce, spinning back towards goal and over the line, a despairing Domm unable to do enough to keep it out.
In the first half Gambling's low cross had helped put his side in front on twelve minutes. With Bassett unable to clear from a corner, Gambling cut inside Terry and sent in a delicate ball that took a deflection and wrong-footed Domm.
Bassett then equalised four minutes later, Bown stroking home a penalty after Craig Bowden had been felled following a patient build up.
Though somewhat underwhelming during a scrappy opening half, there could have been more from the visitors. Just two minutes in Barnes had seen a toe poke hacked off the line by Ben Hillerby. After both teams had scored, Barnes mishit a lob from 18 yards that failed to trouble the target, while Bown forced a tremendous save from Mitchell with a towering header.
But after the restart it would be a different matter, thanks in no small part to an inspired half time tactical shift.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Shaun Terry – played a crucial role in two of Bassett's goals, his quick free kick catching the hosts off guard, before a firm tackle initiated the break that led to the fourth. His ability to hold up the ball and bring others into play helped enable the visitors to create numerous other chances.
Scoop Rating: 7/10 – a good attacking display, a slightly nervous defensive one, but the three points are all that matter.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
Mark Barnes, Matt Bown, Jack Ellis, Own Goal