Steve Robertson (2), Sam Packer
An exciting local derby saw Royal Wootton Bassett Town recover from 3-1 down to earn a valuable point away at rivals Highworth Town.
Royal Wootton Bassett Town's latest trip to The Elms to face local rivals Highworth Town produced another feast of goals. And although Bassett's visit may not have yielded all three points, they can be more than satisfied with the point collected as they fought back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3.
A steely resolve is steadily forming within the squad, who dealt brilliantly with the adversity they faced on an eventful afternoon.
A nightmare start for the visitors saw them fall 2-0 behind in the opening eleven minutes. While Steve Robertson got a goal back in the closing stages of the opening period, Highworth restored their two goal advantage midway through the second. However, a fine pair of headers from Robertson and man of the match Sam Packer got Bassett on terms, and they could well have snatched victory.
Having dealt with a side committed to playing football on Saturday, the visit to Highworth must have been something of a culture shock for Bassett as they faced off against a side whose style was rudimentary in the extreme.
Nonetheless the Worthians' direct approach did prove to be effective, as early balls to lively front pair Aysa Corrick and Fabian McCarthy instilled a degree of panic in the Bassett backline.
That led to their opening chance when McCarthy delivered a low cross from the right which midfielder Steve May planted wide of the goal when unmarked.
A minute later they were ahead though. Centre half Luke Cousins launched a long pass into the right channel and over the head of George Drewitt. Corrick then beat the onrushing Richard Lancaster to the ball, rounded the 'keeper and slotted in from a tight angle.
Highworth quickly doubled their lead. Corrick was this time the creator, taking advantage of Bassett's inability to deal with another ball out from the back. After bursting past Drewitt and Liam Edmundson, his powerful drive from the edge of the area was parried away by Lancaster. The danger wasn't fully averted, and a left wing cross was nodded in by McCarthy at the far post.
The game was by now being played at a frenetic pace with both defences being tested. Bassett were denied a clear penalty on the quarter hour mark when Packer was felled in the box before Lancaster did well to keep out a low McCarthy drive and Harry Myles free kick.
The action quickly switched to the other end after the latter save, with left winger Henry Spalding comfortably beating Tony Joyce for pace only to be dragged down by the experienced right back. Yet, again no spot kick was awarded.
Following the challenge, the ball did break for Dan Bailey but, from an angle, he was first denied by home stopper Max Scholefield before dragging the rebound across the face of goal.
Bassett finally got on the board eleven minutes from the break with a well worked goal. With the outside of his boot, Packer played a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Bailey on the right and he whipped in a low cross which Robertson, having broken into the box, expertly guided into the bottom corner.
Opportunities continued to present themselves to both teams. Before the break the hands of Scholefield and Lancaster were stung by firm strikes from Keiron Gleed and Spalding respectively.
Then, within a minute of the restart, Packer found himself in behind the Highworth defence, his strike from the edge of the area being repelled by Scholefield.
Spalding was next to show the Worthians' backline his heels when he latched onto Alioune Diouf's flick on, but he was denied after opting to shoot from range.
With both sets of defences appearing vulnerable, the contest was a finely poised one.
But Highworth appeared to strike the decisive blow with 67 minutes on the clock. Central midfielder Steve May collected possession in an advanced position, and a one-two with Corrick on the edge of the area created the space for him to deliver an emphatic, well worked finish.
Within moments, the hosts thought they had a fourth when Corrick caught Edmundson dwelling on the ball and his cutback fell for Ryan Stanners on the edge of the area. However, his curling strike crashed down off the bar before being cleared, with the Highworth faithful convinced the ball had crossed the line.
Perhaps those remonstrations caused their team to lose their focus, as Bassett broke forward and Packer teased in a cross which Robertson planted into the back of the net.
The visitors now appeared in the ascendancy and came close to an equaliser when a Packer header from a Diouf cross narrowly missed the target.
The midfielder eventually found his range, and with eleven minutes remaining got Bassett back on terms. Spalding floated a cross in from the left and Packer got in front of marker Paul Alder, producing a glancing header which Scholefield could not keep out.
There was still plenty of time to find a winner in a match still fraught with tension.
While Bassett posed problems when finding space behind the home full backs, it was Highworth who were able to fashion the best openings in the minutes that remained. Luckily though, a Joyce cross was skewed over by an unmarked Corrick before Stanners' controlled half volley flew wide.
A breathless game had brought a valuable point. And Bassett – thanks to their spirited comeback - will arguably be the happier with the outcome, Highworth having conspired to squander a position from which they should have killed the game off.
Man of the match: Sam Packer – in superb form, Packer headed a fantastic equaliser after having previously played a key role in Bassett's first two goals. Time and again, the midfielder's eye for a pass and dangerous deliveries caused difficulties for the Highworth defence.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Monday 29th August 2016 at 20:30
Steve Robertson (2), Sam Packer