Dan Comer (2)
Dogged rearguard action in the opening period and a second half brace from Dan Comer helped Royal Wootton Bassett Town to a 2-0 triumph against sixth place Thame United.
While their 2-0 victory was heavily assisted by the ferocious December winds, Royal Wootton Bassett Town deservedly claimed another scalp of one of the Hellenic League Premier Division's leading sides as a second half brace from Dan Comer helped account for sixth place Thame United.
Comer's pair of goals were near identical, the defender heading and stabbing in from close range after Thame stopper Steve Clarke, enduring a torrid afternoon, misjudged two inswinging corners from Dale Richards.
The duo's combination at that end of the pitch ultimately made sure it was three points Bassett wound up taking from the match. But it was their efforts in defence in the opening period, alongside those of Nathan Hawkins â€“ whose performance was imperious, debutant right back Dan Carter and 'keeper Curtis Meare, which laid the foundations from which their team could go on to victory.
With clearances rarely getting any further than the halfway line and Thame therefore enjoying the lion's share of play, playing against the wind prior to the break demanded the utmost concentration.
Indeed, conditions were so bad, conceding just one goal would have been seen as an achievement.
Bassett's defensive quintet delivered better than that though, standing firm in the face of persistent pressure from the visitors to ensure the half ended goalless.
Thame certainly helped matters as they failed to master the elements and take advantage of having the wind behind them.
It took them until the 20th minute to create their first chance, which Luke Ricketts squandered as he shot tamely across the face of goal after racing onto Dan West's through ball into the left channel.
The visitors also found Meare in top form. He was first called into action when he acrobatically prevented a looping header back from Comer from flying over him.
While his reactions there were impressive, the saves he pulled off to first deny David Lynn and then keep out Daniel Pounds were infinitely better.
On 28 minutes, after patient build up play in the final third, Lynn surged forward before striking a piledriver from 20 yards, which Meare, flying to his left and outstretched, diverted over with a single-handed tip save.
Moments later, a long ball over the top set Pounds in free behind the defence, but Meare, with a Schmeichel-esque starfish spread at point blank range, brilliantly managed to steer his poke from ten yards around the post. Then from the resultant corner, one of many that Thame won in the first half and failed to capitalise upon, Nick Dugmore planted a header over from close range.
Having survived that barrage of pressure, Bassett could have taken the lead from two forays into opposition territory late in the period. However, Dan Bailey mishit from a Richards pull back when in a good position, while a curling Ryan Thomas effort from 20 yards brought an awkward parry from Clarke.
Going forward soon became much easier for the hosts as they had the wind at their back following the restart.
And they quickly used it to their benefit. On 48 minutes, Richards whipped in his first inswinging corner to the edge of the six yard box, which Clarke failed to claim, allowing Comer to nod in from a matter of yards.
Demonstrating how dangerous corners could be on an afternoon so blustery, another Richards set piece then crashed against the bar with Clarke, failing to judge the wind, off his line in no man's land.
With 65 minutes on the clock, his low delivery was spilled onto the near post by Clarke and Comer again had the fortune of finding himself in the right position at the right time to prod the rebound home from a yard out.
Thame having no recourse to a reply, Comer's second served to sew up the points for Bassett.
The final twenty five minutes were therefore a relatively comfortable affair. Yet Paul Braithwaite's side refused to take their foot off the gas, and could have had three when clever play from Joe Hiscock in the right corner allowed him to feed a pass inside for Steve Robertson. The division's leading scorer failed to build on his 22 goals so far this campaign, however, as his toe poke from 12 yards was blocked.
Man of the Match: Nathan Hawkins â€“ despite being just 22, Hawkins was the elder statesman of Bassett's back five and marshalled the back line with maturity and class in the opening period. That helped make sure they failed to concede prior to the break and was crucial in setting the team up for victory.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 5th December 2015 at 21:42
Dan Comer (2)