Summerleaze, 15th November 2014
Moments away from earning what would have been a valuable point against a Holyport side one place above them in the table, Wootton Bassett Town proceeded to gift their Berkshire hosts an entirely avoidable winning goal that ensured they came home empty-handed.
Seeing a free kick pumped from deep cleared by their hosts, Bassett found themselves in a three-on-two situation as Holyport broke forward decisively. Driving down the right, Tom Kaill burst past Richie Carter before delivering a low cross into the area which a sliding Fred Tripp steered past Ben Mitchell.
Coming in the game's 90th minute, there was no time for Bassett to respond as they suffered their second last minute loss in a week.
Unlike after Tuesday's loss to Ardley, there was no feeling of being the victim of rough justice. While there was some frustration with the decision to award the free kick for a foul on Nathan Gambling deep inside the Bassett half after the ball had broken to Joe Hiscock who had space to run into, that was no excuse for failing to organise the defence in case Holyport were able to clear.
Throughout the season so far, Paul Braithwaite's team have been susceptible to counter attacks initiated after set pieces have come to nothing. And they had been let off the hook on a couple of occasions against Holyport thanks to the indecision of the hosts' forwards. Eventually though, as the contest reached its denouement, the Berkshire outfit made them pay.
It had looked as though a goalless draw was on the cards, despite both sides enjoying a flurry of chances. With three up front from the off, Holyport's intent was clear, though their adventurous tactics did allow for Bassett to come forward and threaten, especially in the second half after Braithwaite moved to a five man midfield.
Bassett survived three warnings in the opening ten minutes. Kaill was first to come close, driving just wide from the edge of the area with less than 120 seconds on the clock. Tripp then muscled past James Skinner to get onto a ball played through the middle before poking past Mitchell, only to see his skewed shot strike the right post before firing a 20-yard drive narrowly over after he had been given time to turn.
On the quarter hour mark Tyler Sheppard was set free at the other end after neat build up play between Gambling and Henry Traas, but forced onto his weaker left foot he shot tamely at Sam Southerden.
The slower to start, the visitors continued to live dangerously, and Eddie Sumner should have made them pay when he found himself unmarked ten yards from goal. But, dithering on the ball, he delayed his shot to allow Dale Richards enough time to recover ground and provide a timely block.
At no point in the first period was there a lull in play. Callum Wright saw his snap shot from a Gambling corner denied only by the back of Traas in a congested penalty area before Dan Bailey cut in front from the left and thumped a strike towards goal that Southerden was forced to parry around the near post.
A Holyport counter soon led to the woodwork being rattled for a second time as Andrew Vine pounced on indecision between Skinner and fellow centre back Nathan Hawkins, delivering a curler from distance that struck the crossbar.
Despite all this action in and around both goals, the scores remained level, a trend that would continue following the restart.
On the hour, Holyport broke again after Bassett were guilty of overplaying in the final third and Tripp picked out an unmarked Vine at the left post. His side foot effort, aimed towards the bottom right corner, was blocked by Richards though.
Four fine openings fell to the visitors as the shift to three at the back – pushing Richards and Skinner into more advanced wing back positions – forced Holyport deep.
Steve Yeardley's introduction also provided a spark, and within two minutes of his introduction he was in the thick of the action as he headed narrowly wide from a Skinner cross.
Momentum seemed now to be swinging in Bassett's favour after Holyport had edged matters earlier.
A series of quick passes in the left corner involving Yeardley, Gambling and Richards arved open space for the latter to burst into the box. After doing so, the youngster Richards cut back for Traas who, with a clear sight of goal, skewed wide.
Then with nine minutes to go a Bailey free kick from the left corner was cleared as far as Wright 25 yards from goal. After one touch for control, the midfielder struck a piledriver of a shot on the bounce that Southerden met with an equally stunning fingertip save to maintain parity.
Southerden was forced into action when he held at the near post from Yeardley following a Wright ball into the box.
The home team themselves were still pushing for victory and they almost got the opener with five to go when Richie Carter was caught out by a ball over the top, allowing Tripp to run free at Mitchell, but the Bassett â€˜keeper held his nerve to save.
Given the volume of shots on goal, it was perhaps surprising that all signs continued to point to a share of the spoils.
But there was to be a final twist that saw the deadlock broken. And Bassett's failure to heed earlier warnings would be the root cause of Tripp switching the game's outcome.
Man of the Match: Richie Carter – steady and confident as ever in midfield and, later, when pushed back to defence.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38