S Collier, J Roberts
Corinium Stadium, 21st December 2013
After a dreary opening 45 minutes, those in attendance at the Corinium Stadium may have been cursing the fact Wootton Bassett Town's fixture with Thame United was one of only two games in the Hellenic League Premier Division to survive the weather. Yet a second half which featured two red cards, a pair of late goals and dramatic swings in momentum made the game a somewhat memorable 2-2 draw.
Thame were one up at the break thanks to Ollie Lynch's finely taken seventh minute goal. It was the only real chance of note in the opening period and came from Bassett allowing their visitors to break through midfield too easily. A switch of play from left to right opened things up even more, with the ball eventually being set back to Lynch. He then played a neat one-two on the edge of the box before confidently slotting past Steve Allison.
Bassett struggled to get out of their own half early on, with disjointed passing allowing Thame to recover possession all too easily.
On 22 minutes they were able to penetrate deep into opposition territory and forced a corner from which Jordan Roberts received a clear shove in the back when jumping to head. Much to the Bassett midfielder's anger, however, no penalty was forthcoming.
Hoping for a better performance following the interval, Bassett instead allowed Thame – winners of five straight headed into the match – to increase the strength of their hand when Adam Corcoran was harshly dismissed in the 51st minute.
Already cautioned for dissent in the first half, he queried a throw in incorrectly awarded to Thame and for that received his second yellow.
Thame wound up failing to translate the advantage proffered by having an extra man into any meaningful pressure. Instead they decided to continue persevering with Niall Hodgkins on his own up front; he had been made a peripheral figure for most of the match thanks to suffocating defending from Lee Stevens and Sam Ockwell.
And as the hour approached Bassett punished them for their complacent approach.
Ockwell clipped a pass forward to Jason Milhench on the left wing, who coolly set the ball to Roberts. After gaining a yard on his man, Roberts then drove a stunning 25-yard strike beyond a helpless Lee Farrow and into the top corner.
Five minutes later though and Thame could have been back ahead, but Ellis Hercules failed to direct his free header into an open goal after Bassett keeper Steve Allison had failed to claim Dan West's free kick.
Numbers on each side were evened up again with quarter of an hour to go as Ben Connelly became the second player to find himself needlessly sent for an early bath. As with Corcoran, he earned his second yellow for disputing a throw in award.
His team were soon almost punished for a second time in quick succession. But a fine saving tackle six yards from goal prevented Sam Collier from getting on the end of Roberts' wicked low cross.
Quickly play switched to the other end, and with six minutes to go Thame retook the lead.
Bassett were punished for cheaply conceding possession from a throw deep in their half, a snatched clearance falling to Dan West. While West saw a shot blocked, Matt Willett was able to curl home from the right hand side of the box, beating Allison who should really have been able to parry away.
Having fought so hard to get back into the game, Bassett were now staring a first defeat in five league matches in the face.
However, a late equaliser from Collier snatched a point. Ryan Stanners did the hard work to set the forward up, surging down the right before feeding a pass into Collier's feet. Just inside the Thame area, the frontman turned his marker and arrowed an emphatic low drive into the bottom corner.
It was a point Bassett's efforts deserved as they held another top half opponent. Again though, they'll be left ruing avoidable, costly errors that stood in the way of them claiming all three.
Man of the Match: Sam Ockwell – defended superbly alongside Lee Stevens despite lacking the necessary support from the midfield, and it was his forward pass that set in motion Bassett's first equaliser.
Rating: 7/10 – after an underwhelming first half and having to cope with losing a man early in the second, Bassett deserve full credit for the way they came back into the match. In the end they deservedly claimed a point thanks to two excellent goals, though they will be disappointed with the manner in which they conceded.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
S Collier, J Roberts