G Drewitt, S Robertson, H Traas
Corinium Stadium, 7th February 2015
In a fiery, tempestuous affair, Wootton Bassett Town picked up a crucial three points as they outfoxed Newbury to secure a 3-1 victory.
If any game Paul Braithwaite's side have played this year was to be classed as a ‘must win' then this was it.
Having seen their advantage over the sides below them eroded in recent weeks, Bassett have become reeled into a battle at the bottom of the Hellenic League Premier Division. And with Newbury – two places and five points behind going into the contest – visiting the Corinium Stadium, a result was necessary to restore some of that cushion that had been lost.
While goals from George Drewitt, Henry Traas and Steve Robertson achieved that aim, Bassett are not yet out of the woods. But they are in a damn sight better position than they would have been had they fell to a defeat.
Newbury, on the other hand, are slowly losing touch. Now eight points off Bassett, it will be hard for them to overcome that deficit with just seven matches remaining.
The importance of this encounter was not lost on the visitors. But this led to a performance weakened by an overzealous, undisciplined approach, which only got worse when they found themselves two down after just 25 minutes.
It was Newbury who had the game's first chance after just one minute when Dave Perry shot straight at Luke Kuczynski after an awkward bounce prevented James Skinner from clearing Danny Lachacz's cross and the ball squirmed free.
Yet Bassett were the team who made their early opportunities count. With nine minutes on the clock, an inswinging Nathan Gambling corner was not attacked by the visitors' defence as it sailed across the face of goal and Drewitt made the most of this, stabbing home from close range at the left post.
Another set piece led to the second. This time it was Nathan Hawkins who served as provider, sending forward a free kick from deep, which Traas met with a bullet of a header on the edge of the area that flew into the bottom corner and left Newbury ‘keeper Chris Waller rooted to the spot.
Further boosting the hosts, the deficit served to distract Newbury from their game, though Curtis Angell did have a chance to reduce arrears, but snatched at a shot from a tight angle.
They were fortunate too not to fall further behind when a thumping long range drive from Tyler Sheppard had Waller beaten only to crash off the right upright.
Given how well they were having things, Bassett would have been disappointed to hear the half time whistle. They re-emerged as a jittery unit too, the significance of holding on to their lead no doubt heavy on their minds.
A fine reaction save from Kuczynski inside the second period's opening 120 seconds kept the lead at two. With the defence stretched, the ‘keeper pushed out a Lachacz cross only as far as Danny Langford, who produced a snap shot from 12 yards, but Kuczynski sprung back to his feet and acrobatically tipped around the post.
With Newbury increasingly frustrated, the game took a sour turn just after the hour when, after the referee had already blown his whistle for a Bassett free kick, the visitors' player-manager Callum Willmoth flew into Tyler Sheppard with a shocking two-footed lunge and somehow only received a yellow.
Thereafter the rate at which Newbury collected cautions far exceeded the number of shots on target they were able to muster, not least because the Bassett defence was firmly standing its ground despite needing to be alert for long periods.
The best they could come up with was Ben McCready's curling 30 yard free kick, which Kuczynski scrambled across goal and steered around the post.
And again Bassett made them pay. With six minutes left, Steve Robertson received a Skinner free kick into feet on the edge of the box and rolled his man before bending a crisply struck left-footer beyond Waller.
Although Newbury did get a reply in fluky circumstances when Cellyn Crook fired into an empty net from thirty yards after a Kuczynski punch landed at his feet, the points were Bassett's.
Man of the Match: George Drewitt – taking over the captain's armband with Steve Yeardley on the bench, the defender led by example. His finish to give Bassett the lead was a composed one, while he didn't put a foot wrong at the other end of the pitch.
Last modified on Monday 22nd June 2015 at 23:38
G Drewitt, S Robertson, H Traas