Dale Richards, Steve Robertson, Henry Spalding
Royal Wootton Bassett Town returned to winning ways with a 3-2 home victory against Highmoor Ibis.
In a wide open game full of chances, eventually the side most clinical in front of goal prevailed.
Well taken late goals from Steve Robertson and Henry Spalding proved decisive in securing a return to winning ways for Royal Wootton Bassett Town as they held out for a 3-2 victory against Highmoor Ibis, who were forced to play the majority of the second period with ten men.
It was an afternoon when neither defence made a positive case. And had greater composure been shown in the final third by both teams, the five goals were produced could well have been doubled.
Still, it's a result that Rich Hunter's side can be pleased with. Not only did they record a first win against Highmoor at the seventh attempt, but the result provides Bassett with a greater cushion against those teams currently occupying the congested lower regions of the Hellenic League Premier Division table.
To claim victory, Bassett were forced to come from behind having fallen into arrears after just nine minutes. The goal they conceded was an all too soft one. Little pressure was placed on Highmoor as the ball was worked across field from the left, and from the right edge of the area Jamie Piercy was able to pick out the bottom left corner with a precise finish.
That could well have been Highmoor's second of the afternoon too. However, three minutes earlier Steve Yeardley made up for an initial error that presented the visitors with an opportunity deep inside the Bassett half by clearing Anthony White's shot off the line.
Despite that early setback, Bassett were on level terms midway through the half. It should have been Spalding who grabbed the equaliser but, after racing onto Robertson's clipped pass over the top and rounding 'keeper Sean Saxty, he somehow managed to find the right upright. However, Dale Richards was on hand to bury the rebound for his fifth of the season.
Bassett then held the upper hand for the rest of the half, but were thwarted by an inspired performance from the acrobatic and, at times, eccentric goalkeeping performance of Saxty.
The Highmoor stopper raced off his line to try and beat Dan Bailey to a Dan Comer pass into the left corner. However, Bailey got there first and played a clever pass inside to Spalding, who shot first time only to be denied by a sprawling Saxty.
He then batted Robertson's tight angle shot into the air before having to tip over when it appeared his initial save wasn't going to be sufficient to deny Bassett the lead.
The resulting corner then brought out a phenomenal parry from Saxty as he steered Bailey's near post header over the bar.
Although not ahead, Bassett justifiably went into the break fully confident that they could go onto win the game. And they would have felt even more so just three minutes after the restart when Highmoor were reduced to ten men after Alex Dumbuya's clumsy trip denied Richards an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
Yet the sending off seemed to galvanise the visitors, who twice came close to regaining in the minutes immediately after seeing their number reduced.
Mitchell Parker was set free in behind the Bassett backline by Harry Grant's pass on 53 minutes, but could only drag his effort from the edge of the area wide.
Moments later, another ball over the top caught out the home defence and Parker squared to White, who narrowly struck over from eighteen yards.
At the other end, Saxty continued to frustrate Bassett. He superbly steered a 25-yard Richards piledrive around the post just after the hour before being equal to a close-range effort from an unmarked Robertson, which the Bassett forward snatched at.
With time winding down, it still appeared to be anyone's game, as Marcus Richardson saw a glancing header from Dwayne Coultress' corner blocked on the line before White beat Hawkins for pace only to find the side netting when through one-on-one with Curtis Meare.
Eventually though Bassett struck the decisive blow with six minutes remaining.
It came on the counter as Highmoor were caught committing too many men forward. The ball was worked out to Richards on the left, and he delivered a raking diagonal pass from halfway, which Robertson controlled with a stunning first touch on the edge of the area before coolly lifting over the onrushing Saxty.
Four minutes later the points were all but wrapped up as Richards fed Spalding with a through ball, and the young winger raced half the length of the pitch, leaving last man Jamie Porter trailing in his wake, before he steered beyond a helpless Saxty.
Highmoor did pull one goal back. And they did so in style, Richardson rolling back the years with a fine piece of footwork to escape the attention of two defenders before sweeping into the bottom corner.
Yet, there was no time for any further drama, allowing Bassett to celebrate a first league win a month.
Man of the Match: Henry Spalding – playing for the first time since mid-October, the youngster returned in style. He produced several crosses which deserved better and rounded off the afternoon with a confidently taken winner. That should really have been his second of the game, but fortunately Dale Richards was on hand to make amends for Spalding's miss after he had done the hard bit and rounded the 'keeper.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 5th November 2016 at 22:10
Dale Richards, Steve Robertson, Henry Spalding