Steve Robertson, Harvey Scholes
Royal Wootton Bassett Town took down Hellenic League Premier Division leaders Thatcham Town, securing a 2-1 victory courtesy of a Harvey Scholes wondergoal and Steve Robertson's last gasp winner.
There are few feelings in football more satisfying than toppling the league leaders. Apart from when you do so with a dramatic last minute winner.
And that's exactly what Royal Wootton Bassett Town did, Steve Robertson's low deflected strike in injury time – coming moments after his team had conceded an equaliser - sealing a stunning 2-1 away victory at Thatcham Town.
The Kingfishers entered the contest having dropped just four points since an opening day league defeat at the hands of Kidlington. Riding that imperious run of form and with recent reinforcements added to an already high calibre squad, they'd not have expected Bassett, lingering in 13th in the Hellenic League Premier Division, to have offered too much in the way of resistance as they sought to maintain their lead at the top of the table. Especially so considering Paul Braithwaite's squad had slipped to defeat in their previous three league outings.
However, with undoubtedly their best performance of the season so far, Bassett made sure that the form book was of no relevant value on this afternoon. Defensively, bodies were thrown on the line in the face of a heap of Thatcham pressure, meanwhile the Bassett midfield ran their legs off on a heavy pitch to offer the necessary support both at the back and up front, where Steve Robertson and Sam Packer combined to cause frequent difficulties for their hosts' backline.
Singling out any player for specific praise on this afternoon would be wrong; instead it was a total team performance that underlay this odds defying triumph.
There was a frenetic nature to the match throughout, a feature partially encouraged by the fact both teams were forced to play for over an hour with ten men.
The game's opening stages were especially fast-paced. On six minutes Adam Morris lifted a shot over from the edge of the area while unmarked before Curtis Meare tipped around the post from an awkward Josh Helmore effort after Tom Browne's free kick had been blocked but not cleared.
Then at the other end, Packer flicked Meare's long goal kick onto Robertson, who had beaten the offside trap. With 'keeper Chris Rackley charging off his line, Bassett's leading marksmen sought to beat him with a powerful lob from 30 yards and missed only by a whisker.
Thatcham's Josh Baines was next to narrowly miss, finding the side netting with a sharp arrowing drive on the turn. Helmore again came close as the period neared its mid-point, but his delicate attempt to lift the ball over a sprawling Meare was brilliantly clawed wide by the Bassett stopper.
Having survived those early scares and also come close to snatching the lead, Bassett could feel encouraged. And that confident mood was rewarded by Harvey Scholes on the half hour mark.
Receiving a George Drewitt throw just inside the home side's half, Scholes turned, effortlessly glided past an attempted sliding tackle and proceeded to bend a sublime 25 yard curler into the top right corner to send the visitors in front.
The playmaker was quickly at the heart of the action prior to both teams seeing one of their contingent dismissed. His reaction to a heavy tackle from behind on the right wing sparked a brief skirmish, the result of which was red cards for Thatcham right back Danny Lachacz and Bassett midfielder Matt Cheetham for their part in the conflagration.
A crucial moment, the reduction in players on the pitch served to ratchet up the end-to-end nature of the game.
At the beginning of the second period Thatcham exerted a significant amount of pressure but only came close to equalising once when a George Drewitt block denied Adam Morris after patient build up play on the left enabled Callum Willmoth to get into the box and cut back for his teammate.
Although determined to maintain their slender advantage, Bassett were willing to press for a second too. And, while their opponents appealed spuriously for a penalty, they got on with matters, breaking decisively through Dan Comer as the right back burst forward into an ocean of space. He darted inside and slipped through Robertson on the left, but the forward could only must a weak shot from a tight angle, which Rackley parried around the near post.
On the hour Thatcham left back Browne got in on the attacking action, pouncing on a loose ball following Comer's attempted clearing header, before unleashing a left-footed thunderbolt that rattled the crossbar.
Soon afterwards, pinball in the box after Bassett failed to clear from a corner eventually saw the ball drop for WIllmoth. He sought to guide a sidefoot shot into the opposite bottom corner, yet saw his attempt wind up an inch or so wide.
Wave after wave of desperate Thatcham attacks continued. Yet their reluctance to shoot and desire to pass the ball into the net allowed their visitors to consistently soak this pressure up and launch counter drives of their own.
Twice more they almost led to a second of the game. A daring Dan Bailey strike from the halfway line had Rackley racing back onto his goalline to punch over before Scholes twisted his way towards goal from the left touchline only to fire across the face of goal from an angle.
Thatcham were no doubt thankful that both efforts failed to increase their deficit. And they eventually grabbed the equaliser they were agitating for when an unmarked Helmore steered in from close range from Willmoth's corner with two minutes remaining.
Back on level terms, their thoughts now turned to finding a winner. Bassett had other ideas though.
With the ninety minutes elapsed, they won a throw in inside Thatcham territory, which Robertson received into his feet on the right wing. He then rolled his marker, drove into the area and fired low, with the aid of a slight deflection, beyond Rackley.
Game, set and match. What a feeling. What a win.
Man of the match: Adam Corcoran – an extremely tough decision as all of the Bassett contingent battled heroically on the day. But Corcoran led the back line calmly and superbly, producing numerous important tackles and blocks to keep Thatcham's firepower at bay.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 14th November 2015 at 21:37
Steve Robertson, Harvey Scholes