Corinium Stadium, 2nd November 2013
For the second consecutive week Wootton Bassett Town looked set to claim a point from one of the Hellenic League Premier Division's top three teams only for their hopes to be dashed by a late, controversial winner. This time it was Ardley who claimed the spoils, their 78th minute penalty sealing victory by the odd goal in three.
As gut-wrenching as the defeat was following a commendable performance in difficult conditions, Bassett's sense of frustration will be exacerbated by the fact other results mean they now stand just two points above the bottom four.
Defending against an extremely strong wind in the opening period, Jeff Roberts' team defended stoutly. And although they trailed at the break, it can be seen to be an achievement that Ardley - who boast one of the division's most prolific attacks – had been limited to just the one goal.
That came in the 19th minute. It took a fine tip over the bar from Steve Allison - forced to adjust his body quickly as the ball's path was altered by the wind – to divert Dean Smith's right wing cross following a neat one-two with Troy Bryan. Yet from the resulting corner the ‘keeper was let down by his teammates' frailties at set pieces.
At the near post Ryan Brooks provided a sublime Ibrahimovic-esque flick to Darren Beckett's low corner, which found the bar and Ben Thomas was quickest to react to the rebound, heading in from ten yards.
Chances remained few and far between as Ardley, enjoying the lion's share of possession, probed forward only to be knocked back by a solid Bassett backline.
A further opening did eventually come a minute before the break, and it should have led to the second goal of the game. Bassett's defence froze as a goal kick was headed on, allowing Brooks a free run at Allison. But despite being presented with what appeared to be the easiest of one-on-ones, the Ardley forward scuffed his shot straight at the Bassett stopper.
After the restart the home side survived an early scare when a Beckett free kick fell for Bryan, whose side foot volley was blocked and scrambled wide.
Thereafter, with the wind now blustering behind Bassett, play switched to the other end. But as much as Bassett looked to create chances, they were frequently let down by a forced pass , such was the eagerness to get on level terms.
They were eventually able to do so though midway through the period and were aided in part by the elements. Jack Harding's goal kick caught the wind, travelling just thirty or so yards and Bassett pressure forced Ardley backwards. The ball then broke for Ryan Stanners on the left and his square ball played in Tyler Sheppard on the opposite wing, and he beat his man before emphatically firing past Harding.
Buoyed by this, Bassett continued to press. With quarter of an hour to go a Kyle Rigley free kick bounced around the box before falling for Jordan Roberts, whose shot on the turn from a tight angle was deflected wide.
But three minutes later, the hosts' hopes were burst. From deep on the left wing, Tommy Kinch delivered a free kick into the box, which Brooks controlled. With Brooks having gained half a yard, his marker Craig Bowden gave him a slight nudge in the back that sent the forward sprawling.
It was a soft, borderline penalty, which Steve Howkins coolly dispatched to seal the points and inflict more late pain on Bassett.
Man of the Match: Sam Packer – moved inside to centre midfield for this game, Packer produced one of his best performances so far this season, winning a number of challenges and linking up well with those around him.
Rating: 6/10 – though Bassett's play at times caused them problems given the conditions – especially in the first half, they performed well, limiting Ardley to a handful of chances. Defending from set pieces again let them down, but losing late on was a cruel blow on an afternoon when they arguably did enough to gain a point.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38