Racecourse Ground, 14th September 2013
The longer journeys in the Hellenic League Premier Division are not proving to be much of a burden for Wootton Bassett Town. For the third straight game Jeff Roberts' team came home with a point, this time following a dizzying 1-1 draw with Ascot United.
It was a peculiar, yet entertaining match. Chances were frequent, though often created in uncharacteristic circumstances: for both teams a set piece in an advanced position typically led to a quick break and a shot at goal at the other end.
In fact that's how Bassett grabbed their equaliser shortly after the restart. Ascot failed to make the most of a free kick, Ryan Stanners initiated a counter down the right before being brought down in the box and Levi Cox converted the penalty.
Certainly it was an improvement to how the visitors had dealt with Ascot corners and free kicks throughout the rest of the match. As early as the fifth minute, after Luke Kuczynski had palmed Matt Jones' free kick over, Sam Packer was forced to clear off the line after Daryl McLean's delivery deflected awkwardly off Adam Corcoran.
Then in the tenth minute a low McLean corner was steered in at the near post by Jon Bennett, who had raced clear of his marker. It was harsh on Kuczynski, who had saved well again to glove Jones' stinging effort wide moments earlier, but he was left with little time to react.
Ascot continued to apply the pressure thereafter, helped by the fact Bassett were being somewhat careless with possession and trying to force the killer ball through to Cox and Alex Rigley up front rather than patiently trying to break down the hosts' shaky defence.
The means by which Bassett's two best opportunities arose also reflected their over-eagerness, with Sam Ockwell twice letting fly from range. In fairness to the central midfielder both strikes came close – the first whistling over and the latter being fisted away. But when Ockwell's teammates tried to replicate him Ascot were able to breathe easily.
At the other end Kuczynski and his defence remained under fire as Ascot – playing with three men up front - exploited the space behind the visiting full backs. Just after the half hour the â€˜keeper palmed a low cross straight to Jones before punching away the rebound, before the unmarked forward forced a composed save from Kuczynski following a Bennett cutback. A last ditch Corcoran tackle then deflected Bennett's curling shot over.
A quick start to the second half then seemed to reverse the pattern of the match. When Jones headed Jon Denton's free kick from the right corner across goal from three yards out, Bassett broke with a purpose. Stanners charged forward down the right and a one-two with the advancing Steve Yeardley fashioned enough space for him to dart into the penalty area. There he was tripped leaving the referee no choice and Cox confidently swept the ball into the top left corner from twelve yards.
Seconds later, Packer raced onto a Corcoran ball placed into the left corner and squared for Rigley, who forced an outstretched Chris Grace to tip the ball away.
After Kuczynski survived a scare, redeeming himself following a goal kick by getting a fingertip to Jermaine Roberts' rising shot, Cox came close to a second. Collecting an inside pass from Stanners, the forward rolled his marker and sent a low left-footed shot towards the bottom corner, only being denied by Grace clawing the ball around the post.
With time beginning to wind down both teams then seemed open to throwing away the game.
A corner that came to nothing allowed Ascot to jaunt down the other end on 75 minutes. Ockwell seemed to have snuffed out the danger though, but he unwisely attempted to clear by playing across his own box, smashing the ball into Craig Bowden. After bouncing off the defender and veering towards goal, a stranded Kuczynski was able to breathe a sigh of relief when the ball bobbled inches wide.
Four minutes later Yeardley sent Stanners free down the right again after Ascot wasted a set piece. Instead of carrying on towards goal, however, Stanners put too much on a square pass to Lewis Chatwin, forcing the substitute to shoot from an awkward angle from which he found the near post.
With two minutes remaining Bassett conceded possession from a throw, allowing Ascot to initiate another counter, but Roberts wasted the opening, firing straight at Kuczynski.
One last chance fell to the visitors. Receiving a Kyle Rigley pass, with his back to goal, Cox unselfishly steered the ball to Chatwin, who was left with just Grace to beat. However, the forward, trying to bend his shot around Grace with the outside of the boot, scuffed his effort from twelve yards.
Time soon ran out, with both teams perhaps frustrated they didn't take more from the match. Ascot certainly let their feelings show, remonstrating with a very inconsistent referee at full time, which resulted in Dave Hoar receiving a red card after the whistle.
While some of his decisions may have baffled, the result was certainly fair.
And it's one Bassett, who gained their third consecutive away draw, will happily take.
Man of the Match: Steve Yeardley – helped keep Ascot's dangerous strike force in check and was a key part of the move that led to Bassett being awarded their penalty.
Rating: 6/10 – it was a performance worthy of a point. However, Bassett's frailty at set pieces was again exposed, while the midfield's slowness in tracking back helped allow Ascot to create more opportunities than they should have been allowed.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38