ASM Stadium 5th April 2014
A stern defensive display carried Wootton Bassett Town to their second draw of the season against Thame United – and twelfth tie overall – as neither side was able to find the back of the net.
With Jordan Roberts, Lee Stevens, Shaun Carter and Tyler Sheppard all unavailable, Jeff Roberts was forced to field a depleted side, which put in an impressive performance in difficult circumstances.
The opening period saw Bassett largely camped inside their own half. Yet Thame were incapable of turning that territorial advantage into any meaningful chances thanks to stubborn defensive play.
Two shots off target were the best the hosts could muster. Early on, Niall Hodgkins blasted wide after Ben Connelly's hoik into the box. Then on the half hour mark Hodgkins rose to meet Marcul Mealing's free kick and powered a header over from close range.
Bassett could even have been ahead at the break when Jonny Aitkenhead stole possession with a firm tackle and sent Aaron Stevens free. However, Stevens could only lift his shot on the bounce over.
Following that rather tepid first half, the second period was much livelier, with a fine chance falling to the visitors in the opening minute.
Chris Balfe's crossfield ball picked out Stevens on the left wing. After surging forward, he saw his advances blocked, but Kalum Youngsam was able to recover possession and find space to shoot, though his effort lacked the power to trouble Lee Farrow.
At the other end, a booming goal kick almost caught Bassett out, but fortunately Luke Ricketts hooked over the bar from twelve yards out.
Ricketts had an opportunity to redeem himself when he intercepted a wayward Steve Yeardley square ball. Roaring forward, he burst into the box and was denied a shot on goal only by a full-blooded Aitkenhead challenge. Thame thought they had a good claim for a penalty, but with the ball won the referee was not convinced.
As the game entered its final stages and legs began to tire, play really opened up. Two Kyle Rigley deliveries almost led to Bassett goals. On 69 minutes his free kick was not cleared, allowing Adam Corcoran to produce a snap shot which was blocked by Nik Rhodes.
Moments later his looping cross found Dan Lardner twenty yards from goal and the midfielder, demonstrating outstanding technique, swivelled to meet the ball at waist height with a thundering volley that Farrow did well to fist away.
His opposite number Steve Allison soon made a stunning save of his own to parry away at point blank range when Connelly slid in to meet Mealing's square pass across the six yard box.
With time winding down Allison's acrobatics then were required to tip Alex Kedzierski's dipping half volley around the post.
Goalless was therefore how this contest would remain to make it a dozen draws on the season for Bassett.
Man of the Match: Sam Ockwell – another commanding performance at centre half. A sure-fire contender for player of the year, he has become comfortable and assured in defence when called upon to move from his natural spot in the heart of midfield.
Rating: 7/10 – given the circumstances, this was a result Bassett should be happy with. It was not as though Jeff Roberts' team were fortunate to scrape a draw either, as they matched Thame and could even have taken all the points.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38