An under-strength Royal Wootton Bassett Town fell to a heavy 4-0 defeat, their third straight league loss, away against last season's runners-up Highmoor Ibis
Never the easiest place to visit at the best of times, but when you have to travel to Highmoor Ibis on a Monday night without six of your key players you always knew it was going to be a tough ask to come away with a result and so it proved. Having to field a side without regular keeper Curtis Meare, top striker Steve Robertson, key defenders Adam Corcoran and George Drewitt, captain Steve Yeardley and influential midfield player Sam Packer, Bassett's squad was stretched to the limit. You just knew it was not going to be a good evening when our opponents managed to spell our name wrong on the cover of the matchday programme!
The first ten minutes saw the two sides cancel each other out as they sought to deal with a very uneven pitch with a propensity to a wicked bounce which brought back memories if the infamous Rylands Way bobble (more on this later). The first shot on goal came after 10 minutes when Highmoor's Jemel Forde-Small effort went well wide. Bassett's first chance of the game came on 15 minutes when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Unfortunately Dan Bailey's shot went straight into the wall and the chance was gone. The best chance of the night so far fell to Bassett on 20 minutes when a great ball from Steve Olphert put Joe Hiscock in the clear but his effort was well saved by Michael Cadle in the Highmoor goal. From the resulting corner Matt Cheetham headed over. Bassett continued to press for the opening goal and Bailey's header on 28 minutes was easily dealt with by Cadle.
After performing well in that opening half an hour all the good work was undone when Bassett completely switched off at a Highmoor corner. The corner was taken quickly with a ball into Jemel Forde Small who fired into the Bassett net at the near post. A poor goal to concede after Bassett had done well to restrict one of the most skilful forward lines in the Uhlsport Hellenic League to a few half chances. On 33 minutes a chance fell to Joe Hiscock after a Bassett free kick and he should really have done better but the chance again went begging. The game was effectively over as a contest when seconds later a defensive clearance from Austin Best looked a simple take for keeper Luke Kuczynski but th eball took a wicked bounce just in front of him and sailed over his head into the empty net. One of the most bizarre goals seen in a long time. Bassett did their best to try and get a goal back just before the break. Bailey shot from 20 yards and the effort was deflected for a corner. From the resulting corner, good work from Bailey set up Matt Cheetham but he fired over to leave it 2-0 at the break to the home side.
The second half saw Bassett trying to get back into the game and two efforts in the space of a couple of minutes from Steve Olphert were the closest Bassett came. Both efforts went well wide of the goal, the second coming after a great set-up by young Scott Walduck making his first start of the season in the Premier Division. The best chance of the night for Bassett came on 70 minutes when Matt Cheetham missed a header after a great cross from Dan Comer. It looked like a goal all the way but went wide of the post.
After that it was really all Highmoor. Harrison Bailey made it 3-0 to the home side. Moments later it was 4-0 when keeper Luke Kuczynski hesitated and Jemel Forde-Small nipped in to score. With all three points secured Highmoor took their foot off the gas and Bassett were able to create three further chances but all came to nothing. Cheetham shot just wide on 85 minutes before Dale Richhards was put clean through only to fire into the side netting. A little more composure and it would have been a consolation goal. With two minutes to go Dan Comer fired in a free kick which was tipped over the bar by Cadle in the Highmoor goal. 4-0 to the home side on the night and despite a few chance sin front of goal in reality there was only ever going to be one winner in this game. Credit to the lads who made it to Reading on this Monday night; the problem for Bassett was really those that were not there.
Bassett now take a break from league action with three key cup games coming up which could define the season. Hopefully most of the missing players will be back soon. If not there really is a need to strengthen the squad to compete better at this level.
Man of the Match: Matt Cheetham – again, another hard working performance from Bassett's experienced midfield player. Along with Steve Olphert and Dan Comer, he put in the usual graft in the Bassett midfield but it was not enough to inspire the otherwise young and inexperienced side.
Credit: Mark Smedley
Last modified on Wednesday 28th October 2015 at 19:39