L Cox (2), A Corcoran
Corinium Stadium, 26th April 2014
Wootton Bassett Town's last home game of the season was arguably a microcosm of a campaign that has swung between highs and lows.
In losing an entertaining, open encounter 4-3 against Kidlington, Bassett fell to defeat by the odd goal for a sixth time against a team in the top half.
It was an afternoon too on which the good and the bad were on show in equal measure. Thanks to a dominant second half performance – bar the one goal conceded - a draw was almost earned. Yet, a disappointing first half display in which three goals were shipped meant the gap could not ultimately be bridged.
Early on Kidlington had Bassett penned deep inside their own half, though the best they could muster was burly target man Tom Boxer's awkward flicked strike, which Steve Allison turned around the post.
Coming into the game more, Bassett almost took the lead on 12 minutes. Following a foul on Jordan Roberts, Kyle Rigley sent a rasping free kick curling towards the top left corner from 25 yards. Away team stopper Matt Hyslop appeared beaten, but scrambling across his goal, he was able to acrobatically tip over.
He then was forced to parry onto the bar from the resulting corner, which was taken short to Steve Yeardley, whose deflected cross was the source of the trouble.
Many times this year Bassett have established a foothold in a game only to quickly see that vanish after conceding. And that was the case again, Kidlington nosing in front on 21 minutes. Breaking through Tommy Castle, he fed left winger Mike Duerden a pass before bursting into the box and gladly taking up a square ball. Gaining a yard on Lee Stevens, Castle then picked out the bottom right corner from 15 yards.
Within two minutes Kidlington then had their second with the cheapest of goals. Lewis Brownhill pumped a free kick from deep into the centre of the area, which Allison came to punch. However, the â€˜keeper was beaten to the ball by Danny Mason, whose header floated into the vacant net.
Despite trailing by two goals, Bassett were not out of the game, and a flurry of corners with time winding down in the period bore fruit, allowing the deficit to be halved. Hyslop attempted to fist away Levi Cox's delivery, but could not connect cleanly with his punch, and Adam Corcoran found himself in the right place to guide home a looping header.
Going into the break having just scored would have been a great boon for the hosts. Yet they let their guard slip, allowing Kidlington to make it 3-1 just before the referee's whistle. Castle was allowed too much space to drive forward before squaring for Boxer on the edge of the area. Turning to see Allison way off his line, Boxer then steered a cool finish into the bottom corner.
Deserved stern words must have been said at half time as Bassett re-emerged with much greater purpose in the second period.
And they had the ball in the net almost instantly courtesy of Dan Lardner, but he was judged to have been offside.
It didn't take much longer for the gap to be cut to one goal though. Cox was the man to provide the finish, doing so in style. Scott Walduck's whipped in cross from the right took an awkward bounce just as Bassett's top scorer was about to meet the ball. However, adjusting his body, Cox was able to arrow a low drive into the opposite corner, leaving Hyslop no chance.
Now back in the game, this was no time to let Kidlington regain their two goal lead. Yet, again they gifted their visitors a goal within moments of scoring themselves, Boxer sweeping in from close range after a corner had not been dealt with.
The need to then chase brought out the best in Bassett. In the heart of midfield Roberts was dictating play with Steve Yeardley comfortably sweeping up any trouble. Meanwhile wide men Cox and Ryan Stanners were forcing Kidlington's full backs deeper and deeper. Up front, Kalum Youngsam's probing and Dan Lardner's hold up play ensured attacks were sustained.
Bassett consistently threatened.
Just after the hour a clipped Roberts pass set Cox free in the left channel. He then squared to Lardner, who saw his low shot tipped wide. From the corner, Lardner then met a low Stanners cross with a first time strike that he guided inches wide.
With fifteen minutes to go it was game on again. Charlie Cassetari conceded possession inside his own half before the ball was fed to Stanners on the right. He picked out Cox with a deep cross, and Cox cut inside his man before emphatically firing low beyond Hyslop.
Play opened up greatly after this, with wave after wave of Bassett attacks being countered by some dangerous Kidlington breaks.
Seven minutes from time, Roberts looked to have set Cox free for an equaliser and a hat-trick, but the two-goal man slightly overran the ball. Despite recovering, he was only able to produce a weak prodded effort that was straight at Hyslop. Quickly play switched to the other end where Jack Quainton blasted just wide.
The contest's final chance fell to defender Stevens in stoppage time, but the equaliser and eighth goal of the game did not come. Surging forward, he latched onto Roberts' diagonal pass and fired across goal and narrowly wide from 18 yards.
Once more fine margins, those frustrating things which have caused Bassett to accept a bottom half finish, therefore wound up proving the difference between a positive result and defeat.
Man of the Match: Levi Cox – took his two goals supremely well, while his energy on the left wing helped make certain that Kidlington would have to fight until the end for their win.
Rating: 6.5/10 – a highly entertaining game, with a disappointing outcome. Had Bassett played throughout the game as they did in the second half, they would have no doubt won. But that flat performance in the opening period, which resulted in three relatively cheap goals conceded meant the comeback attempt proved to be in vain.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
L Cox (2), A Corcoran