Dan Bailey , Joe Hiscock
Royal Wootton Bassett Town produced more late drama as a pair of last minute goals secured a stunning 2-1 victory against Brimscombe and Thrupp.
With two minutes remaining of their home clash against Brimscombe and Thrupp, Royal Wootton Bassett Town appeared destined to start the New Year just as they had finished 2015: with defeat.
Despite a much improved performance from that which led to such a bitter humiliation at the hands of Highworth Town, Paul Braithwaite's side had failed to unlock their Gloucestershire opponents' stubborn defence, which had successfully defended a single goal lead carved out through Ben Deakin's composed finish after just nine minutes.
However, a fluke header from Joe Hiscock sparked a whirlwind 120 seconds, culminating in the quick feet of Dan Bailey earning Bassett a stunning, confidence boosting trio of points at the death.
It's not the first time this season that Bassett have snatched victory courtesy of some late dramatics at their new home. In the wake of such a heavy defeat, the sense of relief and joy come the final whistle far outweighed those other last ditch triumphs against Ardley, Bracknell and Wokingham though.
With the pressure starting to mount from those sides beneath them, defeat was something Bassett were simply reluctant to countenance. Equally important was keeping up with those just ahead of them: had they not managed to collapse so spectacularly, Brimscombe would have moved seven points clear of their hosts with games in hand still to spare.
Yet in the opening stages, the home side seemed nervous which the fluent visitors quickly took advantage of.
Curtis Meare's goal had already lived a charmed live before Deakin put Brimscombe ahead as Dave Woodfield's low cross flashed across the six-yard box untouched and the Bassett stopper could only fend off Martin McDermott's long range drive before Nathan Hawkins hacked away.
There was little Meare could do about Deakin's opener as the diminutive winger coolly dispatched from Ash Caldwell's cutback after the visitors were able to spring the offside trap.
A stunning save from the 'keeper then prevented Bassett from falling into an early hole similar to that in which they had slumped at The Elms. Deakin received possession in space on the left and cut inside, riding a heavy Matt Cheetham challenge before taking aim at the top right corner from 25 yards out. His shot was struck with authority but Meare, flying across goal, kept it out with a sublime fingertip save.
Having thanked their last line of defence for keeping the deficit to a minimum, Bassett's outfield players finally began to settle into something resembling a rhythm.
Similar to Brimscombe, they were having some joy down the wings, with Dale Richards in a particularly vibrant mood.
The left wing back's knockdown from a Hawkins free kick led to Steve Robertson hooking an acrobatic overhead kick wide before his low delivery caused panic in the visitors' box. But, as the loose ball fell for Robertson, Bassett's top scorer failed to capitalise, seeing a snap shot blocked, before Dan Comer's attempt from the rebound was turned around the right post by 'keeper Steve Sparrow.
Ten minutes into the second half, another testing cross from Richards fell to Robertson who took one touch before sending a rising effort narrowly over.
It was really only from wide positions that Bassett were able to threaten their visitors though.
There was no lack of effort from creative central midfield pair Sam Packer and Harvey Scholes. But they were having little luck even with their team in the ascendancy as Brimscombe remained well organised. And that compact shell helped limit the opportunities the hosts were able to fashion.
Thus it increasingly appeared as though the Lilywhites would hang on for victory and that Bassett would be shutout for the fourth consecutive game.
That was until Packer heaved a desperation ball into the box from deep on the left. His cross was flicked on by Hawkins before being met by a defensive header, but this attempted clearance bounced off a fortuitously placed Hiscock and arced gracefully into the right corner beyond a helpless Sparrow.
Then, less than two minutes later, Richards served as creator. This time his delivery came with a bit more thought. With the Brimscombe defence retreating, he whipped a pass from his position on the wing to the edge of the area where Hiscock set the ball to Bailey, who, getting his shot off before either Chris Jones or Chris Greenhough could shut him down, stabbed home with his second touch.
Man of the Match: Dale Richards – Bassett's main source of danger despite seeming to carry a knock, Richards was a ball of energy down the left side and thrived with the attacking responsibilities given to him. His cross for Bassett's winner was something special - perfectly played with precision and pace to allow Hiscock to tee up Bailey.
Credit: New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, 2nd January 2016
Last modified on Sunday 3rd January 2016 at 13:11
Dan Bailey , Joe Hiscock