Sam Packer, Dale Richards, Steve Robertson
Royal Wootton Bassett Town began the New Year in style, coming back from a goal down to win 3-1 away against Ascot United.
Given they have just three home league games remaining this season, Royal Wootton Bassett Town's resolution for the New Year is to become a side who are difficult to beat when playing in unfamiliar surroundings on the road.
First impressions after a fiery encounter away at Ascot United are that it's one they intend to keep.
Bassett came from behind to deservedly win 3-1 as Dale Richards, Sam Packer and Steve Robertson struck in a second successive impressive victory at the Racecourse Ground.
The only downside was that the day ended with Bassett down to ten men after Packer was dismissed for his reaction to a horrendous challenge from Ascot centre half Colin Mogoya, who also, rightly, was shown a straight red card.
While Bassett boss Rich Hunter will have to make do without Packer in the coming weeks, he'll have been delighted with the contribution from his creative midfielder in helping his side end a two-game losing skid.
Along with frontmen Lewis Thompson, Dale Richards and Steve Robertson – who were all in fine form - his play helped make it a frustrating swansong for the departing Ascot management team.
As half time neared the hosts would have been feeling confident of providing long-serving duo Jeff Lamb and Paul McGrotty with a winning send-off. A goal to the good courtesy of full back Jack Smillie's stunning long range drive, they had seemed to settle into the game better than the visitors despite both sides being evenly matched.
However, in the final minute of the opening period quick thinking from Curtis Meare and a powerful strike from Dale Richards restored parity.
Bassett then went ahead three minutes after the break as Packer headed in Dan Comer's teasing free kick before Robertson punished Ascot for slack play at the back, calmly stroking home after being set free by Thompson.
They had to survive some early scares in the game as a last ditch tackle from Adam Corcoran was necessary to deny James Goodey when he had been played in by Louie Gilpin.
Meare was soon forced to demonstrate his reflexes, pouncing on the ball just in front of the goalline after Smillie's corner had fell to Gilpin at the far post before diving low to hold onto Jesse Wilson's free header from another Smillie delivery.
On the half hour mark Steve Yeardley's block deflected Jason Sheehan's curling effort over following a one-two on the edge of the box between the midfielder and Goodey.
There was little anyone could do to keep Smillie's opener out when it arrived. Ascot recovered possession from Bassett near halfway, and the ball was quickly worked out to the right back on the wing. Advancing into the space in front of him, Smillie proceeded to strike a thundering shot from all of thirty yards into the top left corner beyond Meare.
The Bassett 'keeper played a key role in his team's equaliser though. After comfortably saving a Goodey shot, he immediately launched the ball towards Richards. An error from left back Gavin Branch then allowed Richards to cut inside, and he struck a low shot from the edge of the area that deceived home shotstopper Carl Dennison.
Taking the momentum into half time, the visitors shot out of the blocks after the restart, with Robertson seeing a shot from eighteen yards deflected over after a great turn and pass from Thompson.
On 48 minutes they were ahead. Packer was felled by Wilson in the left corner, and from the resulting free kick got a run on his marker, flicking a header from Comer's set piece into the net.
While Bassett were now in the ascendancy, Ascot were by no means out of the game. And, just before the hour, Meare was forced to scramble across his goal to divert Gurkan Gokmen's snap shot from the right edge around the post.
It wasn't long until the whip hand was Bassett's to lose hold of though. An underhit pass intended for Smillie was seized upon by Thompson, who squared inside for Robertson. The prolific then danced his way past Mogoya before coolly slotting past Dennison.
Mogoya, who had already endured a difficult afternoon, saw his day go from bad to worse with twelve minutes remaining when he flew in on Packer with a sickening shin high challenge as the midfielder sought to break forward on the right side.
After a brief melee, both he and Packer received their marching orders, the Bassett man dismissed for raising his hands at Mogoya in response to the challenge.
That wasn't to be the final flashpoint in the game. In injury time, a coming together off the ball involving Yeardley and Goodey led to the Ascot forward requiring treatment. The home support - convinced there was an elbow involved - were incensed and, come full time, saw off the match officials with some stinging words.
However, they could have little complaint about the game's outcome with Bassett worthy winners.
Man of the Match: Matt Cheetham – a strong performance from the Bassett captain in the centre of midfield. He came to the fore in the second half, helping to limit the hosts to just the one chance and provide Bassett with the platform to launch a number of attacks.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 7th January 2017 at 21:04
Sam Packer, Dale Richards, Steve Robertson