Royal Wootton Bassett Town picked up a helpful point as they were held to a goalless draw by Ascot United.
Royal Wootton Bassett Town played out their first goalless draw in nearly three years as they were made to sweat by a vibrant, young Ascot United side at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground.
Not since a trip to Thame United in April 2014 had a game involving Bassett finished 0-0. And there were plenty of occasions during this tense contest against the Yellamen which threatened to extend that streak.
Yet, while both teams strived to play a progressive, passing game, a lack of end product and composure in front of goal meant that it finished all square.
The visitors were a much-changed outfit from that which Rich Hunter's side defeated 3-1 a month ago. Just five players who featured in that heated meeting in Berkshire remained, their much changed teamsheet being something that no doubt instilled a great deal of confidence in the Bassett ranks.
Though Dan Davies tested Curtis Meare four minutes in, a pair of chances which fell to the hosts during the early exchanges seemed to justify that optimism.
They should arguably have both been taken, but the ease with which they came about suggested Bassett were a goal away from breaking the game open.
Two minutes after Davies saw his shot from the edge of the area pushed around the post, visiting 'keeper Matt Hill was brought into action after a fine move down the right side opened up the Ascot defence. Steve Robertson slipped a pass into the right channel for George Lance to run onto and the youngster cut back across goal for Lewis Thompson, who saw his shot from twelve yards bravely parried away at his feet.
Moments later, Dan Comer swung in a free kick from the left wing, which fell perfectly for an unmarked Steve Yeardley. However, the Bassett centre half somehow skewed a header way over the bar from all of ten yards.
Having survived those nervy moments, Ascot then found a level of fluency which the home side lacked. Through wide-men James Goodey and Arafat Kabuye they looked threatening down both flanks, while imposing centre forward Josh Dillon made sure that Yeardley and defensive partner Liam Edmondson were on their toes throughout.
It didn't really translate into opportunities prior to the break though, Ascot's best opening for the remainder of the period coming when the ball broke for Kabuye just inside the area, but his powerful strike was blocked.
Following the restart the game became a frenetic, frayed affair with play shifting from end-to-end.
Early on, Thompson came closing to breaking the deadlock when he received a throw in from Comer, cut inside and arrowed a drive from the right edge of the box narrowly wide.
With the hour mark approaching, Kabuye's cross from the left found Goodey at the far post, and his close range half volley forced a fine reaction save from Meare to keep it out.
Robertson then almost took advantage of a rash decision from Hill to race off his line and attempt to beat the prolific Bassett forward to Steve Olphert's switch of play. He came up short, and from a narrow angle on the left, Robertson attempted to slot into the empty net, but couldn't quite find the target.
With ten minutes to go, Bassett thought they had their moment when Dan Bailey hooked a through ball in behind the visiting defence, which Lance raced onto. After the Ascot defence was able to recover, the midfielder cut back and squared for Robertson, whose shot was blocked by a superb goalline clearance, although the offside flag would have ruled it out anyway.
Defensively, Hunter's team were forced to defend corner after corner during the second period. However, it was from a free kick that they came closest to conceding the decide. Four minutes from time, Dan Davies swung one over from the left-hand side that carried to the far post where two unmarked Ascot players looked set to pounce. Their teammate Tom Wensley strode in prior to the ball reaching them, connecting with a weak header that sailed wide much to the relief of Bassett.
0-0 the game finished then, but it was not for the want of trying on the part of both teams.
Man of the Match: Dan Comer – dealt very well with the threat posed by Arafat Kabuye and his second half replacement Matt Forder, who were dangerous wingers blessed with pace and skill.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 4th February 2017 at 21:54