Royal Wootton Bassett Town produced an excellent performance worthy of at least a point away against Thame United, but fell to a 1-0 loss against the Hellenic League Premier Division title chasers.
It took a backs-to-the-wall defensive effort for title chasing Thame United to see off Royal Wootton Bassett Town as Rich Hunter's valiant side pushed their hosts all the way in a narrow 1-0 defeat.
Holding a lead they had taken in fortunate fashion on the stroke of half time, Thame were really on the ropes for a significant chunk of the second half.
Whether it was the burden of requiring a win to keep the pace with leaders Bracknell Town weighing on their shoulders, only they know. But on a nervous, jittery afternoon, they were ultimately thankful for the efforts of their back four – marshalled by imperious centre half and captain Ellis Hercules – for ensuring Bassett, for all their efforts, were unable to snatch a late equaliser.
A huge amount of credit must go to the visitors, who really took the game to the Oxfordshire outfit and did not deserve to go home empty-handed.
Save for a sluggish start in which Thame were presented with a trio of gilt-edged opportunities, they helped blunt the home side's prolific attack.
And though Thame 'keeper Henry Craven may not have had to make a save of note throughout the duration of the game, that fails to accurately reflect the level of sustained pressure his team came under after the restart.
There were early flashbacks to last weekend's thrashing at the hands of Flackwell as Bassett failed to get out of the blocks.
An underhit Adam Corcoran pass deep inside his own half presented Lynton Goss with a golden opportunity less than two minutes in. But he found the post after driving into the area and shooting from an angle.
Two brave blocks from Curtis Meare then kept Thame out after Goss' corner had been flicked on at the near post before the 'keeper raced off his line to smother at the forward's feet when he had beaten the offside trap.
Having survived that spell, Bassett really came into the contest, making life difficult for Thame.
Opportunities became increasingly rare for the home side as they were frustrated by a battling Bassett back line, while frontmen Sam Packer and Steve Robertson brought the best out of the home defence.
Just before the half hour mark, Dan West scuffed a strike from the edge of the area straight at Meare before a clever turn and weighted cross from Packer picked out Dale Richards who dragged a first time effort across the face of goal and wide.
It appeared increasingly like that half time would arrive with the sides still deadlocked. But two minutes before the break, Thame won a soft free kick on the left wing. Goss delivered an inswinger, which Tom Ashworth, among a sea of bodies, connected with.
Had he done so properly, the ball would have no doubt fallen comfortably into the hands of Meare. However, the flicked nature of his looping header meant it had enough height to evade Meare and go in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was cruel on Bassett, but they were to provide a fitting reaction once play restarted.
Three minutes into the second half, West forced Meare to tip a low drive around the post following Goss' cushioned set down.
But, until Goss forced a fine parry from Meare and hooked the rebound wide following a counter attack with ten minutes remaining, that was as good as it got for Thame in the second period.
Bassett began to have the lion's share of possession, and were playing confidently, pushing their hosts deeper and deeper. Yet the best they could muster were a handful of corners and forays into the box where some desperate defending helped avert danger.
Their failure to find the net was unfortunate and rather undeserved given the quality of performance. But they were kept out by a defence that, given a run for its money, stood up to the stresses and strains they were subjected to in equally admirable fashion.
Man of the Match: Steve Yeardley – a solid display at centre half, which helped restrict the number of chances Thame's prolific strikeforce were able to create. Yeardley also helped drive on his team in the closing stages, pushing forward and initiating a number of attacks as Bassett sought an equaliser.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 11th March 2017 at 21:25