S Carter, L Chatwin
Palmer Park Stadium, 7th September 2013
Come the end of the season, Wootton Bassett Town's visit to Highmoor IBIS, which ended in a 2-2 draw, will likely come to be remembered as a missed opportunity. The two soft goals conceded, both of which negated leads, will stick in the craw.
As will the plentiful late fouls, constant bickering and flurry of yellow cards. In total, there were twelve bookings dished out, with Ryan Stanners having the misfortune to be the only player to collect two, the second coming in injury time for failing to retreat ten yards at a free kick.
This, the inaugural meeting between the teams, was no pretty affair.
But it could well have been. For the home side, wide men Jordon Brown and Stephen Peacock were great to watch, if not to defend against. Meanwhile for Bassett, the energetic Lewis Chatwin probed tirelessly up front with Jordan Roberts again pulling the strings in midfield. However, their talents would be overshadowed.
Six cards were issued in the opening stanza, including three in the first twenty minutes. One – for Adam Corcoran – came following a direct Brown run that saw him felled on the edge of the box and led to the game's first chance on goal. Phillip John blazed the resulting free kick just over though.
Brown's dangerous qualities were soon on display again when cut inside from his position on the left wing and drove a stinging effort which Steve Allison required two attempts to successfully collect.
Early on Bassett were struggling to make much headway going forward, but were able to go in front midway through the period. Sam Ockwell lifted a free kick into the box which led to an embarrassing mix-up, the ball headed by a defender and looping over â€˜keeper Lee Johnson. Gambling, defender Shaun Carter raced in and nodded into the empty net.
Highmoor seemed stunned after going behind and were fortunate not to see Bassett doubled their lead. Chatwin was through on goal just before the half hour when he latched onto an Ockwell slide rule pass. However he lost control as he prepared to shoot thanks to a bobble. Then a long range curler from Roberts required a stunning acrobatic save from Johnson to prevent it finding the top corner.
Unable to take advantage of this pressure, Bassett then allowed their hosts to get back on level terms far too easily. Nine minutes before the break Johnson threw out to Peacock on the right. Never under any pressure, the tricky midfielder drove forward and arrowed a 20-yard shot past Allison at his near post.
Peacock and Brown continued to threaten following the restart, the former finding the side netting from an angle before the latter forced Allison into an uncomfortable save as he drilled a half volley from Ben Lyden's knock down towards goal. Lyden also came close in the opening minutes of the second half and was only denied by a fine saving tackle from Carter.
With their hosts spurning numerous chances, it took just one for Bassett to nose ahead again on 62 minutes. And they did so in style. Catching Highmoor's defence off guard, Roberts took an early free kick, switching play to Sam Packer on the left. Packer, after holding play up briefly, then slid through Chatwin, who had made a darting diagonal run into the box, and he coolly slotted past Johnson.
Now having to chase the game, Highmoor pressed and Brown forced Allison into a fingertip save to prevent his strike finding the opposite left corner after he had darted inside marker Craig Bowden.
Eventually Bassett's resistance broke. Yet when Highmoor equalised their goal came all too easily. Dropping off into midfield, John collected a pass from his defence and when he turned upfield found acres of space to move into. He then let fire from thirty yards and rifled past Allison from that distance.
In the closing stages it appeared as though the hosts would steal a winner too. Thanks to their tired legs Bassett conceded set piece after set piece around their own area. And with a minute left they were lucky to see Allison glove the ball away as it crept towards goals after a teasing John free kick bounced around the six yard box.
A point was thus preserved, though with extra due care it could even have been three.
Man of the Match: Lewis Chatwin – impressed in his first start, constantly seeking to get in behind the Highmoor defence while also giving them little time to dwell on the ball. The run that set up his goal was expertly timed and his finish composed.
Rating: 6/10 – the condition of the pitch made things tough, as did Highmoor's physical approach in the first half. Bassett matched their opponents and were worthy of a point, but will be cursing the circumstance of the goals they conceded.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
S Carter, L Chatwin