S Robertson (2), D Richards
The Meadow, 27th December 2014
A second half comeback from Wootton Bassett Town ensured they could end the festive season in high spirits as they defeated Brimscombe and Thrupp 3-1 to secure three vital points.
After a dismal first half performance, which saw Bassett fortunate to go into the break just a goal down, Paul Braithwaite's team eventually clawed their way back into the game through Dale Richards' first goal in senior football before a late Steve Robertson double took them on to victory.
Against a side beginning the day with four games in hand over Bassett and seven points behind, this was a contest where a result was a must to avoid getting dragged into danger.
By any means, Bassett had to get something from the game. And that they did – with particular emphasis on the first clause of that sentence.
This was traditional Christmas football fare: two teams scrapping it out in torrid conditions on a pitch whose condition deteriorated quickly into a mudbath, with little quality play.
In the opening period Bassett's play lacked any semblance of fluency with Brimscombe adjusting best to the heavy surface. While the visitors packed the centre of midfield, the hosts looked to get wide men Dave Woodfield and Ben Deakin – operating in the least impacted areas of the pitch – involved as often as possible.
This was something Bassett struggled to deal with. In just the second minute Woodfield delivered a dangerous ball from the right which a stumbling Ash Caldwell headed straight into the arms of Luke Kuczynski at the near post.
Deakin proved to be the biggest threat. Midway through the half he raced onto Jonny Davis' pass into the space behind right back Steve Yeardley before cutting back across the box. Bassett were glad that Sam Blackie sliced his shot from twelve yards, but the loose ball fell to Woodfield on the edge of the area, who sent in a low curling effort that was deflected inches wide.
A similar move eventually led to the opener for Brimscombe after 33 minutes. Chris Greenough this time played in Deakin whose testing cross was cleared only as far as Ollie Pitt. The left back then drove forward, shrugging off the challenge of Ryan Thomas, before firing beyond Kuczsynski with a 20 yard thumper.
It was an advantage the hosts deserved and they should really have extended it prior to the break.
Minutes after taking the lead, Thomas conceded possession with an errant pass which Deakin seized upon. He played a pass inside to Caldwell whose shot on the turn from the edge of the area forced Kuczynski into a low save.
A sliding Blackie then knocked wide at the far post after another dangerous Deakin delivery played across the face of goal.
The whistle for the break offered Bassett a lifeline and whatever was said in the dressing room certainly seemed to have an effect.
Within two minutes of the restart a rising Richards strike flew narrowly over, before the same player sent an opportunistic strike just wide when a clearance from Steve Sparrow fell straight to the full back with an open net to aim for.
The scores should have been level on the hour. Richards fed in an overlapping Thomas whose shot from a tight angle was tipped across goal. The ball fell to Robertson yards from goal but he fluffed his opportunity, allowing Brimscombe to clear.
However, where Robertson failed Richards soon succeeded as the youngster grabbed his first senior goal. He owed a great debt to Tyler Sheppard for setting it up though.
Awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal, Sheppard spotted space in the right channel where he was rolled a pass from Dan Bailey. Driving to the byline and belatedly attracting attention from two defenders, he successfully created space to clip a cross into the heart of the area where Richards rose highest to plant a header beyond Sparrow.
Parity almost lasted less than 120 seconds with Davis driving wide from distance following patient build up play involving Caldwell and Ben Snook.
With snow driving down and the grass well and truly cut up, the game was precariously balanced and one slip was going to prove costly.
And it was a slip from Sparrow that set up Bassett's second to with eight minutes to go. Pressure from Robertson when chasing down a Nathan Gambling lofted pass forced a mix-up between the ‘keeper and centre half Christien Turner that eventually led to the former tripping over his own feet when trying to retrieve the ball near the edge of the box. Gambling, who had made his way forward, gained possession and squared across the six yard box for his strike partner to apply a simple tap in.
Brimscombe had one last chance to get back on level terms with Woodfield playing in Caldwell twelve yards from goal. But the forward lost his footing briefly when turning to shoot, allowing Callum Wright time to recover and get a crucial boot on the ball that directed it centimetres outside the left post. Without that deflection, Kuczynski would have been beaten.
With that scare survived, Bassett went on to wrap things up in the final minute. It was route one stuff that led to the goal, initiated by Bailey thrashing a clearance behind the Brimscombe defence. Gambling raced onto the ball before hold up play on the edge of the area and passing across to Robertson, who squeezed a toe poke between Sparrow's legs that trickled over the line.
Ugly and as messy it may have been, the victory was the perfect present Bassett had been waiting for.
Man of the Match: Callum Wright – with Nathan Hawkins and George Drewitt both missing, Bassett went with a makeshift centre half pairing of Wright and James Skinner. Both did a sterling job dealing as well as they could with the difficult conditions though, with Wright – calm and sensible as ever on the ball – especially standing out.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
S Robertson (2), D Richards