M Barnes, L Edmondson, S Yeardley
Rylands Way, 6th October 2012
Wootton Bassett Town climbed a further spot in Hellenic League Division One West with a 3-2 victory over a battling Letcombe outfit. But alarmingly the journey to three further vital points was much more difficult than it needed to be as the visitors came close to snatching a point having cut the deficit to a solitary goal late on before ultimately running out of time.
Following a tightly contested opening period from which Bassett emerged with the narrowest of leads, the home team sought to turn the screw after the restart. Steve Yeardley had extended the advantage to 3-1 in the 53rd minute, scrambling the ball home when Ben Stone failed to hold onto Matt Bown's stinging 25-yard drive.
Thereafter Letcombe heads appeared to slip, while the introduction of Matt Bennett and Tom Dingle infused added liveliness into the hosts' attack. But despite the increased pressure, Stone's goal lived a charmed life for the remainder of the match, and Bassett were unable to find a game-clinching fourth.
On the hour Mark Barnes, already on the scoresheet, guided Craig Bowden's low cutback towards goal from close range but a deflection carried the ball the wrong side of the post. Soon afterwards a well worked short corner between Bown and James Turner allowed the former to burst into the box but he blasted over with his weaker left foot from a tight angle.
A fine double save from Stone then denied snap efforts from Bown and Yeardley as a goalmouth scramble was, somehow, successfully survived.
Eventually Letcombe made the home side pay for their profligacy. With three minutes remaining, George Thatcher turned on the jets, bursting past Bowden on the right wing. From the byline he cut the ball into the area where Adam Bruce had the first bite at the cherry. James Domm was equal to his first time shot. However, the stopper's point blank save proved not to be enough as Tom Stone comfortably swept the rebound into the back of the net.
Fortunately Bassett would survive the game's final moments, though they were forced to thwart a couple dangerous looking attacks from emerging.
Bennett did come close to adding his first of the season in the final minute. After stealing possession in the corner and winding past three defenders, he went to lift his shot over â€˜keeper Stone, who was able to parry into the air. There was still a chance for the substitute to nod home, but as he positioned himself near enough underneath the crossbar to head the loose ball, Stone leapt up and tipped over.
Relief was then the main emotion felt when the final whistle blew. Indeed that had been the primary feeling an hour earlier at the conclusion of the opening period.
Liam Edmondson had Dave Turner's team in front inside five minutes, nodding home at the second attempt when Stone failed to handle his initial glancing header from a Bown corner.
It should have been two four minutes later when Shaun Terry's lofted through ball set Barnes free, but the forward failed to take his time and stabbed wide from 15 yards.
Letcombe then punished Bassett for a lapse in concentration. Adam Pendell rose above Shaun Carter and Adam Corcoran to head a deep free kick across goal, and Domm was too slow of his line to prevent Bruce from tapping in.
An acrobatic, despairing save from Domm ensured parity remained in the 24th minute. Miscommunication meant Carter's short pass went straight to James Clover, who sent a piledriver from range towards goal. During flight a wicked deflection forced the Bassett â€˜keeper to twist his body in order to get a fingertip to the ball and divert it over.
It was not just a failure to maintain possession that afflicted Turner's team in the early stages as they were also guilty of conceding too many cheap free kicks often in dangerous positions.
Yet on the half hour they put these mistakes to one side and retook the lead with a swift, decisive move. Ethan Delaney surged down the right and squared for Barnes, who stole a yard with his first touch before finding the bottom left corner with his second from the edge of the area.
A similar kind of story would then repeat itself following the restart, Bassett thankfully able to overcome themselves and record a sixth league win in eight games.
Scoop's Man of the Match: Steve Yeardley – scored what proved to be a decisive third with a poacher's finish and distributed the ball effectively and efficiently from the centre of midfield for most of the afternoon.
Scoop Rating: 6/10 – the margin of victory come full time should have been much greater than it was, with Bassett guilty of failing to make their dominance count and conceding two preventable goals. Importantly though, enough was done to seal three points.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
M Barnes, L Edmondson, S Yeardley