Royal Wootton Bassett Town suffered their second defeat of the festive period, falling to a 3-1 home defeat against Lydney Town.
2016 ended in defeat for Royal Wootton Bassett Town as they were overpowered by Lydney Town's powerful strikeforce.
Set-piece specialist Declan Morley-Lyne â€“ a thorn in Bassett's side whenever the two teams meet â€“ struck with a pinpoint first half free-kick, before veteran Pete Macklin added a pair of goals in the second half to lead the Gloucestershire outfit to an emphatic 3-1 victory.
The result means Bassett's place in the top half of the Hellenic League Premier Division table is becoming even more precarious. Defeat drops them to ninth, their superior goal difference now being the only thing keeping them above Lydney, who still possess two games in hand.
These are the games Rich Hunter's side need to find a way to win if they are to achieve the first top half finish at step five in the club's history. But, to do that, it's going to take much better performances than that on New Years' Eve.
While being dangerous going forward, Lydney are a side who are susceptible at the back. And Bassett did seek to exploit their visitors' weakness through the pace of Dale Richards, Lewis Thompson and Kias Bonner-Shea. Yet, they lacked the required nous to unlock their defence with too many attacks scuppered by the offside flag or the wrong pass being played.
In all, the game's opening half was a relatively even affair. However, on the balance of chances, Lydney â€“ with their direct, unsophisticated approach to the game â€“ were well ahead.
Twice in the opening quarter of an hour they threatened, with Jamie Addis skewing over when well placed, and a dangerous Ryan Pendry corner being headed over from a couple yards out.
The best opportunity in the game's early stages fell to Bassett though, and it took a fine save from Lydney 'keeper Richard Thomas to preserve parity. After initially seeing a cross from the left blocked, Richards was able to knock the rebound down to Thompson, lurking just outside the area. He took one touch, before firing a powerful 20-yard drive towards the bottom corner, which Thomas was able to glove wide.
Bassett then suffered the blow of going behind. Lydney were awarded a cheap free kick 25 yards out and dead centre in front of goal, the type of range which gets Morley-Lyne licking his lips. When looking back on the goal, the hosts will no doubt rue the decision to go with just a three-man wall, a decision that gave Morley-Lyne a much easier task as he arrowed a perfectly placed low strike into the bottom corner.
Lydney's lead could well have been increased prior to half time too, with Addis finding the post from Mason Lewis' cutback before an unmarked Morley-Lyne dragged an effort wide from the edge of the area.
They were fast out of the blocks after the restart too, with Lewis blasting over on the half volley and Morley-Lyne hitting over from fifteen yards after both had found a way in behind the home defence.
After surviving those scares, Bassett should really have found a way to get back onto level terms. But again, a lack of composure in the final third let them down.
Bonner-Shea came close when he steered a shot past the post from the edge of the area after a Richards corner had been half cleared.
Then, on the hour, a defensive slip following Ashton Gleed's ball on top had Steve Robertson in behind the Lydney defence. He unselfishly squared to Thompson, who should have put the ball past Thomas. However, instead the youngster dithered on possession, allowing centre half Sam Elliott enough to time to recover and avert danger with a well-timed sliding tackle.
Soon enough, the ruthless Lydney punished Bassett for their lack of that characteristic. Morley-Lyne seized on a backwards pass from Gleed intended for Liam Edmondson and slipped through strike partner Macklin, who made no mistake when one-on-one with stand-in 'keeper George Lance.
That goal knocked the stuffing right out of Bassett, who were fortunate to concede just the one more goal.
A saving tackle from Edmondson denied substitute Harry Williams from close range before Lance did well to hold onto a stinging Macklin strike.
The 'keeper again did brilliantly with nine minutes to go, keeping his composure to block a Macklin shot when the forward was again through on goal. However, the ball fell into the path of the forward who swept into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Nathan Hawkins then grabbed a scrappy consolation for Bassett, bundling the ball in from close range after Thomas failed to claim Steve Olphert's corner.
However, that failed to stem the tide of the game, and the hosts had Lance and substitute Jamie Richards to thank for keeping it 3-1 as the 'keeper parried Jacob English's shot before the full back cleared off the line when the same player attempted to slot home the rebound.
Lance was again busy in injury time, parrying a firm shot from Lewis after the left winger had cut inside and rode two challenges.
Man of the Match: Dan Comer â€“ had a difficult assignment against winger Mason Lewis, but he dealt well with the powerful, pacy wide-player.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Sunday 1st January 2017 at 17:45