In difficult circumstances, managerless Royal Wootton Bassett Town produced a good display against high flying Binfield. However, a stunning Jamie Connor goal delivered all three points to the Berkshire side, who triumphed 1-0.
Sometimes the football pitch can be a welcome sanctuary. And after a couple of tumultuous days off the field in the wake of Paul Braithwaite's resignation, that was certainly the case as Royal Wootton Bassett Town got back to business with the visit of Binfield.
The result of the game – a 1-0 defeat courtesy of Jamie Connor's stunning 49th minute strike - may ultimately have been negative. However, the performance of those players who donned the blue and yellow shirt could not be faulted.
Well organised, disciplined and sensible with the ball, Bassett made their visitors, who came into the game with three wins from their opening three league games, sweat for the points that they collected.
In reality there was little to separate the two teams with the Berkshire side, to the frustration of their boss Roger Herridge, not firing on all cylinders as a result of their hosts making things difficult for them.
The decisive goal was Binfield's one shot on target all game. Receiving the ball just inside the Bassett half and under little pressure, Connor strode into the space in front of him and uncorked a powerful, precise low drive from thirty yards, which roared its way into the bottom left corner.
The home side may have been guilty of a lapse in concentration as they failed to close down the Binfield midfielder. But it was some goal, Bassett 'keeper Richard Lancaster – the fifth they have used so far this season – having no chance.
For Binfield, it was an otherwise off day in front of goal. In the early exchanges they enjoyed plenty of possession, but failed to create any meaningful chances. Instead they were thwarted by Bassett's solid back four.
This allowed Bassett to grow into the game, and they were soon asking questions of Binfield's defence.
Two chances fell the hosts' way in quick succession. On thirteen minutes, Gary Aulsberry could only punch Dan Bailey's corner as far as Henry Spalding, and from 25 yards the former Bristol City youth sent a fizzing first time strike narrowly wide.
Spalding, a tricky left-sided player, then beat his man before delivering a cross from the left which Aulsberry came for and missed. Alioune Diouf snatched at his far post header though, sending the ball back across goal and just out of reach of Bailey, who attempted in vain to steer it towards goal.
A fantastic opportunity quickly presented itself for Binfield hotshot Liam Ferdinand. A low pass forward out of defence split the Bassett midfield and was controlled by Asa Povey, who was scythed down by George Drewitt.
However, with the ball breaking for Ferdinand on the edge of the area, advantage was correctly played, but the forward was unable to add to his five league goals so far as he dragged his shot wide.
Bassett were then guilty of spurning a great opening themselves. Diouf jumped on centre half Michael Walton's underhit pass to left back Jack Broome and drove with intent into the visitors' box. There he squared to Steve Yeardley, who quickly shuffled a pass to the unmarked Spalding on his left. However, this was played narrowly behind the winger, who required an extra touch, allowing Aulsberry to get across goal and parry the close range shot away.
Ferdinand had another chance towards the end of the period, but again failed to find the target from just fifteen yards.
Connor showed him the way soon after the restart though. The goal demanded a response from Bassett, and received it.
But for a little extra composure and self-belief in the final third then Bassett would no doubt have taken a point from the game.
Just after the hour a swift counter was initiated by Yeardley, who slipped through Bailey. A great recovery run from the Binfield defence forced Bailey to set the ball to Yeardley to shoot though, and the experienced midfielder struck wide.
Another break saw Spalding set substitute Tyler Sheppard free in the left channel. Passing up the opportunity to shoot, from the left edge of the area Sheppard sought to pick out Bailey, who was making a darting run towards the right post, but his delivery lacked accuracy.
Then, in the final minute, Spalding teased an in-swinging free kick into a packed box, which Sheppard glanced wide by a matter of inches.
It was therefore a case of close, but no cigar for Bassett. Yet, given the circumstances and in the absence of a manager, this was a performance to be proud of and to build upon.
Man of the Match: Liam Edmondson – a composed, controlled display from the centre half, which helped keep Liam Ferdinand, one of the league's best forwards, quiet for the majority of the game.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Monday 29th August 2016 at 20:31