Despite a good performance, Royal Wootton Bassett Town have now gone nine games without a win as two late goals delivered Ascot United all three points.
Defensively strong and probing when in attack, Royal Wootton Bassett Town produced one of their most polished performances in a long while against an Ascot United side who appear destined for a top four finish in the Hellenic League Premier Division.
However, despite the genuine quality that Bassett showed in a game played for long periods in an atrocious rainstorm and typically strong winds, they were unable to bring their luckless run of games without a win to an end.
A pair of late goals from the visitors determined the outcome of the game. Tristam Dennis broke the deadlock with six minutes remaining, steering a header from Steven Deverall's corner into the bottom corner, before Jamie West scored with a deflected shot in the final minute.
Bassett's winless streak now stands perilously close to hitting double figures. And Easter Monday's trip to a resurgent Bracknell Town provides no easy opportunity to prevent that.
Yet if the team play as they did against Ascot they'll have more than a fighting chance of finally tasting victory again.
At the back, Paul Braithwaite's team were resolute for the majority of the game and the late lapse at the set piece from which Ascot went ahead was not representative of the defensive performance as a whole. Then going forward, wide men Dale Richards and Dan Comer posed problems for the visitors' full backs, frontmen Dan Bailey and Steve Robertson harried the centre halves, while Sam Packer and Harvey Scholes sought to build attacks with intelligent link-up play.
Chances were at a premium, though the conditions certainly played a part in that and hindered the visitors as well.
Bassett's best opportunity in the opening period came as a result of a decisive switch of play that helped open up the visitors' defence. After receiving a pass played around the corner by Bailey, Comer delivered a searching ball into the path of Richards on the opposite wing. Richards proceeded to run at goal, but could only drag his shot from twenty yards across the face of goal and wide.
With the strong wind at their backs, Ascot could only muster one chance of note prior to the break, James Goodey's curling effort forcing Luke Kuczynski to turn the ball around the right post.
The meteorological advantages bestowed to them for the second half, Bassett proceeded to put Ascot under a significant amount of pressure in its early stages.
Racing onto a Bailey flick-on less than sixty seconds after play resumed, Robertson found himself unmarked with only an onrushing Chris Grace to beat, but, dealing with an awkward bounce, he could only hook the ball narrowly over.
Matt Cheetham then demonstrated both his strength and guile, standing firm in the tackle to recover possession before threading a through ball to Robertson, who stung Grace's palms with a stinger from the left edge of the box.
Comer was next to keep the Ascot stopper alert, curling a thirty-yard free kick inches over.
At the other end, a brave block from Jamie Richards helped keep the scores level after Goodey beat the offside trap and forced Kuczynski to tip an attempted cutback from the byline into the heart of the penalty area where West was looking to pounce.
As evenly matched as the sides appeared, it was nevertheless the hosts who appeared the more likely to take the lead, and with just over quarter of an hour remaining Packer shifted a pass to Robertson, who forced Grace into an awkward fingertip save.
Yet ultimately it was to be the visitors who grabbed the decisive goal. Ascot had numerous corners earlier in the game, which had come to nothing, and Deverall's delivery from the right with six minutes remaining appeared not to have been well struck. However, despite its low trajectory an unmarked Dennis was able to glance a header at the near post into the opposite bottom corner.
Bassett almost answered immediately, but Bailey could only guide his header from a Comer cross wide of the left post.
Then in the final minute West killed the game off. Bassett gave away possession from their own throw in, and the powerful frontman saw his shot from just outside the area take a wicked deflection and wrong foot Kuczynski.
The final score was harsh on Bassett, but in the predicament they find themselves in, that slice of luck required always appears elusive.
Man of the match: Matt Cheetham – deployed at centre half rather than in his usual central midfield station, Cheetham produced another robust, assured display. A consistent strong performer, he will certainly be in the frame for a player of the year award when the season concludes next weekend.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 27th March 2016 at 20:41