Corinium Stadium 29th March 2014
Minutes away from securing victory against Flackwell Heath, a late Ryan Millward goal cancelled out Adam Corcoran's second half strike to deny Wootton Bassett Town all three points and ensure a second 1-1 draw of the season against their Buckinghamshire opponents.
Catching Kyle Rigley dithering with the ball on the edge of his own box in the final minute of normal time, Joe Blount stole possession and slammed a scorching effort towards the bottom corner, which Steve Allison did well to fist away.
However, the ‘keeper's parry fell only as far as Millward – thrown up front late on to try and get his side back in the game – and he buried the ball to dash Bassett's hopes of victory.
It was a frustrating end to Rigley's eventful day, the versatile strong man having rattled the bar early on with a stunning free kick before playing a key role in the short corner routine that led to Corcoran bundling the hosts ahead with twenty minutes to go.
However, he and his teammates should not be too disheartened by the result against quality, in form opponents, who came into the game on the back of four straight league wins in which they had racked up twelve goals.
That goalscoring threat was rarely on show as Bassett's defence – strong as ever - stymied the visiting side's strong front line.
In a goalless first half, the best they could muster was a hooked 20-yard shot, struck on the turn, from the Hellenic League Premier Division's third top scorer Adam Dickens which sailed over.
Flackwell were fortunate too not to have been behind at the break. In the game's third minute Tyler Sheppard slipped through Callum Parsons after strong forward play from Ryan Stanners, but the left winger struck tamely at Shaun Coker.
Minutes later, Rigley had Coker beaten with a free kick, struck with power and precision, which seemed destined for the top corner, yet crashed against the bar. The rebound fell perfectly for Corcoran ten yards from goal with Coker stricken, but the defender could only fire wide.
Another Rigley set piece soon had the visitors troubled again. He whipped a free kick from the right wing across the face of goal that Coker came and missed. This time it was Steve Yeardley who the ball fell to with the goal at his mercy. Not expecting to be presented with such an opportunity though, he scuffed at the ball allowing Coker to recover.
After that fast opening failed to bear fruit, the rest of the half settled down into a scrappy affair. Neither team succeeded in stringing any meaningful moves together, while the over officious referee took to blowing his whistle far too frequently much to the frustration of all.
This habit of the official's did not cease after the restart. But fortunately an open game of football began to take shape.
Dickens' towering header forced a stretched save from Allison before a fine block from Corcoran kept Jeff Brown's rasping drive out after the ‘keeper had failed to claim a cross from the deep. Allison then needed two attempts to ensure a stabbed Blount effort did not beat him.
With Stanners' ingenuity and half time substitute Kalum Youngsam's rapid pace causing Flackwell's defence to retreat, there were chances for Bassett too. And they eventually made Flackwell pay with twenty minutes remaining.
A short corner between Stanners and Rigley allowed the former to progress into the box and send a low ball into the crowded six yard box. Under pressure from Youngsam, Coker failed to collect the ball cleanly at the near post. This allowed the forward to square back into the danger area where Corcoran was lurking to bundle home.
Flackwell fought to get back on terms and would have done were it not for a heroic Allison save with quarter of an hour remaining. After batting away Dickens' searing 30 yard free kick, he threw his body in the way of the equally powerful follow up shot, taking a knock that in the process that required him to receive treatment.
With that courageous double save, it appeared as though the points would fall Bassett's way. But Blount's shot and Millward's gamble after Rigley was caught in possession meant the spoils would be shared.
Man of the Match: Jonny Aitkenhead – outstanding at left back, he dominated in the air and let nothing get past him. After spending the majority of the season sidelined by injury, he has made the most of his recent run of games.
Rating: 7/10 – while disappointing to concede late, Bassett were well worth a point, more than matching in form Flackwell. That's eleven draws now in total, seven of which have come against teams currently in the top half.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38