J Skinner, H Traas
Corinium Stadium, 25th October 2014
As scrappy as it may have been, Wootton Bassett Town's 2-1 victory over Milton United was just what the doctor ordered.
Having collected just two points from their previous six games and with their next five league games scheduled to be on the road, Bassett could ill afford less than three points, especially against a Milton side that began the day one place above their hosts.
That triumph did not come easily though. While enjoying the better of the play in the opening period, Paul Braithwaite's team struggled to convert this into opportunities on goal and trailed at the break through a well taken, albeit controversial, Richie Claydon goal. After the restart it then took Bassett time to test the visiting defence.
But eventually Henry Traas was able to scramble a snap shot on the turn beyond the grasp of Craig Griffiths in the Milton goal, which seemed to unsettle the visitors. James Skinner then grabbed what proved to be the winner ten minutes later, stealing in to head home after Lewis Petrie had got in front of Griffiths to flick on a Tyler Sheppard cross.
Able to close out the game, the value of this victory was clear to see at full time with the points enough to allow Bassett to climb two places, Brimscombe and Thrupp being the other side to be leapfrogged.
However, despite finally increasing the number in their win column, the performance still demonstrated that there are areas of the team's game that need to be worked on.
Converting possession into chances is one of those areas. Though they saw much of the ball in the opening period, Griffiths was rarely called into action thanks to a failure to provide lone forward Petrie with much meaningful support.
Twice though Bassett could have taken the lead. In the ninth minute Dan Bailey fired a low ball from the byline across the face of the six yard box that needed just a touch to turn in but none was forthcoming.
Half an hour in Dale Richards set Petrie free in the left channel with a perfectly weighted clipped pass. After gliding past Brad Chalmers, he attempted to lift the ball over Griffiths from an angle but saw his effort gloved over.
Bailey swung the resulting corner to the far post where an unmarked Traas connected with a powerful header. He was thwarted by teammate George Drewitt, whose momentum from his own run carried the defender into the path of Traas' goal-bound header.
Milton were by now finding their feet, with Josh Cottrell and Tom Austin combining well in midfield. Seven minutes before the break, the latter delivered a low cross from the right wing into the box, which bounced around before an innocuous touch guided it onto the post. Much to Bassett's relief, Ben Mitchell wasn't forced to pick that out of his net.
But two minutes later Milton were ahead. After an attack from the hosts broke down in midfield, the always dangerous Claydon - who did appear to be a yard offside - raced onto a defence splitting through ball, rounded the onrushing Mitchell and tapped into an open goal.
The hole Bassett found themselves in could have deepened early in the second half when Nathan Hawkins sliced a clearance back towards goal from a Claydon free kick, but an alert Mitchell was able to dive forward and punch away.
Having survived that it wasn't long before the hosts equalised. Bailey picked up possession on the left after Milton could only clear a corner as far as the taker. He then steered the ball back into the area, picking out Sheppard, who turned to shoot but saw his strike blocked.
Traas was there to pick up the pieces though. His snap left-footed effort evaded the phalanx of defenders between him and goal and, most importantly, beat Griffiths, whose desperate attempt to claw it away from the bottom right corner failed.
At the other end, Chalmers and Austin fired straight at Mitchell from range as Milton initially threatened to retake the lead.
But from there on out Bassett were the most threatening side. With twenty minutes to go, Sheppard twisted and turned in the left corner, before finding enough room to float in a cross towards the near post with his favoured right foot. Petrie got in front of Griffiths and, taking a whack in the process, flicked a header over the ‘keeper, with Skinner – finding himself in an extremely advanced position despite playing at full back - racing in to head into the open net.
It could have been three shortly after when Petrie raced onto Callum Wright's sublime outside of the boot pass. The forward unselfishly fed Sheppard, but the left winger could not pick out the opposite corner with a curling strike.
Petrie then came close to adding a goal that his hard-working display arguably merited when he raced onto a Richards through ball and drove beyond Chalmers. Yet, from a tight angle, he steered across the face of goal and wide.
The one goal advantage proved to be enough of a cushion though, providing fitting medicine after a month in which their league form had stagnated.
Man of the Match: Lewis Petrie – ploughed a lone furrow effectively up front, not letting the lack of support he had in the opening period frustrate him. His header that set up Bassett's second was a brave one, and all that was missing for him was a goal to cap off a good performance.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
J Skinner, H Traas