L Cox, T Sheppard
Barrington Park, 11th January 2014
In the most dramatic fashion, Levi Cox ensured Wootton Bassett extended their unbeaten league streak to eight games with a 2-1 victory as his exquisite stoppage time flick decided the outcome of a local derby with Shrivenham that, for long periods, had hung on a knife edge.
Seconds earlier, Fraser Joyce came within inches of winning the game, but saw his low shot parried just around the post by home stopper Louie La Touche.
That appeared to have confirmed the final score as a tie. But, thinking quickly, a short corner routine between Ryan Stanners and Jordan Roberts crucially caught the Shrivenham defence off guard. After a low cross and a deft Cox flick, which the forward applied with his back to goal, Bassett had earned the points and completed the season double over their neighbours.
Former Bassett boss Dave Turner, now at the helm at Shrivenham, was left gutted. His side had started brightest and could have had more than the one goal lead they eventually took into the break.
Within the game first's minute they almost went ahead as Richie Miles had room to turn and smash a 25 yard effort towards the top corner. Awkwardly, but fortunately Steve Allison tipped over.
The Bassett ‘keeper was unable to prevent Dan Drewitt finding the net with a howitzer five minutes later. Debutant Mani Randhawa's headed clearance went only as far as the midfielder, who then thrashed a thunderous strike into the top right corner from just beyond the edge of the area.
On the quarter hour mark the visitors should have been level. A Stanners ball over the top of the defence set Cox free and he was bundled over in the box following a clumsy Scott Scanlon challenge. With both Cox and Stanners having missed from twelve yards in the past two games, Dan Lardner stepped up to take the penalty. He sent La Touche the wrong way, but found the left post with a kick that lacked conviction.
Carrying on Bassett's recent spot kick woes, it was the fourth penalty in a row that Bassett have missed.
The hosts almost punished their visitors further for failing to take advantage of that opportunity. Recovering possession on the right after his corner had only been half cleared, former Bassett midfielder Matt Bown cut inside and slammed a left-footed effort across goal and narrowly wide.
Another Bown long range effort soon tested Allison, who could not hold onto the shot, the ball eventually being scrambled clear.
Disjointed in the middle of the park – playmaker Roberts was clearly suffering from a lingering injury, Bassett struggled to piece together penetrative attacks. And the best opportunities they could muster for the rest of the period were merely half chances, Stanners curling over from range and Randhawa heading over from a Tyler Sheppard corner that La Touche had come to claim and missed.
The break seemed to do Bassett some good. No longer was it Bown pulling the strings in midfield, as Lardner and Roberts became more prominent. It would be the latter who helped set up the equaliser too on 55 minutes.
Receiving a Stanners pass into feet deep in Shrivenham territory, Roberts found space and curled a low left-footer towards the bottom corner. An outstretched La Touche clawed the ball away, only to find left winger Sheppard follow up and tap in from an angle.
That goal really opened the game up as play shifted from end to end. With midfield legs tiring, that potentially left the previously untried Bassett back four exposed. But Randhawa and Sam Ockwell, his makeshift partner in central defence, expertly marshalled matters. Ockwell in particular performed superbly.
This solidity enabled Bassett to attack with more purpose, and as the game grew ever older it was they who carved out the better chances.
After twisting and turning for what seemed an eternity, Cox eventually found room to shoot from range with just over quarter of an hour to go, but he could only sting La Touche's palms.
Minutes later Steve Yeardley picked out an unmarked Stanners with a cross. However, the forward's touch on this rare occasion let him down.
With five minutes left, Roberts rose to redirect Kyle Rigley' corner back across goal. With no teammate gambling to turn it home, the Shrivenham defence were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
They initially felt they could do so again when La Touche gloved Joyce's one-on-one effort around the post, the hard working midfielder not getting the reward he deserved for the clever run inside from the left he had made to race onto Stanners' clipped through ball.
Yet Shrivenham's repeated sighs of relief soon turned into gasps of anguish, as around them Bassett's exulted celebrations feted Cox's fine winner.
Man of the Match: Fraser Joyce – made the most of another opportunity to step up from the Reserves to the first team. Joyce has always been a player you can rely on for maximum effort. And he supplied that along with a performance of much quality out on the wing.
Rating: 6/10 – winning local derbies is always a great feeling, this one even more so considering how late the winner came and that victory extends the gap between Bassett and Shrivenham to nine points. Nevertheless, Jeff Roberts' team were disjointed for long periods, squandered another penalty and were overall slightly fortunate to come away with the points.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
L Cox, T Sheppard