Despite playing against ten men for 50 minutes, Royal Wootton Bassett Town were unable to record their first win of the season as they drew 1-1 with Windsor.
Royal Wootton Bassett Town may have lost just one of their opening four Hellenic League Premier Division games. But they still remain in search of their first win of the campaign after scraping a 1-1 draw against ten man Windsor.
Bassett were, in fact, fortunate not to have suffered their second loss after a horribly underwhelming display against a side who had fell to two defeats to start the season and who were forced to play for fifty minutes of the game a man short following the dismissal of Joash Nembhard.
Rather than taking advantage of their numerical superiority, Rich Hunter's team instead rode their luck and, after conceding an equaliser five minutes after the restart, were extremely luck to have held on for a draw. Indeed, had you missed Nembhard's dismissal, you would have been forgiven for thinking it was Bassett who had been reduced to ten men.
Throughout the game the home team were not at their best. Defensively they struggled to deal with the threat posed by Keiron Knight and former Fulham man Barry Hayles' testing strike partnership. While the back four just about got away, Bassett were toothless in midfield and attack, producing just three shots on goal – an unacceptable tally considering the circumstances.
Early on there were signs that this was going to be a long day for Bassett. In the second minute, Hayles beat the offside trap and was able to take the ball past an onrushing Matt Bulman. However, the forward was at a very tight angle and saw the ball slip out of play as he sought to adjust his body to take on the shot.
The ageless 45-year-old – who has 13 Premier League goals to his name – came close again six minutes later. Getting on the end of Knight's flick, Hayles saw his shot from twelve yards repelled by Bulman before his rebound effort was hooked off the line by Aaron Stevens.
While they were playing into a stiff wind, Bassett had failed to get going. And it wasn't until the game's 21st minute that they enjoyed a sustained period inside Windsor's half. It did almost bring a goal though.
Gio Wrona delivered a fine pass into the right corner for Mason Thompson to run onto. The winger then breezed past left back Haydon Clack before cutting a pass back from the byline into the path of Nathan Gambling. However, he was denied what would have been a comfortable finish by Nembhard's perfectly timed sliding tackle.
After nearly conceding from a corner when Elliott Woodham's back post header was shuffled off target and wide by Dale Richard's timely intervention, Bassett took the lead from a set piece of their own midway through the period.
Wrona's towering delivery hung up in the air and, after getting goalside of his marker at the far post, debutant Chris Jackson guided a header from eight yards out over the line just enough for the assistant referee to be certain it had gone in before being desperately hacked away.
Quarter of an hour later, another corner brought the moment that should have swung the contest decisively in Bassett's favour. This time, Wrona had no chance to put the ball in the box as referee Luke Peacock blew his whistle to deal with some pushing and shoving in the area. As he summoned the two captains in an attempt to calm the culprits down, Nembhard was guilty of using some overly industrial language that led to his expulsion.
Rather than turning the screw though, Bassett handed the tools over to Windsor.
They were almost level going into the break as Hayles flicked a near post header inches wide from Clack's long throw.
The two combined to greater effect within five minutes of the restart. Bassett were caught out by a quick free kick played into Paul Coyne in the right channel. The ball was worked back to set piece taker Adam Smith, and he picked out Hayles in the heart of the box. With his back to goal, the veteran set the ball back to an unguarded Clack on the edge, and he drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.
Moments prior to that, Gambling had an opportunity to double Bassett's lead, but he could only guide Dave Coleman's delivery from the deep over the bar. Then on the hour, Callum Wright floated in a diagonal ball to Wrona on the left edge of the box and the midfield shot straight into the hands of Hugo Sobte.
For the rest of the encounter, Bassett lived dangerously. The introduction of wingers Taufee Skandari and Nadir Shafi added further dynamism to Windsor's forward play as the visitors deemed that attack was the best form of defence when shorthanded.
And that tactic very nearly paid off, in no small part thanks to Bassett being way below par.
With twenty minutes to go, Shafi got on the end of Hayles' cross from the right and saw his first shot blocked before seeing his second attempt from twelve yards loop narrowly over.
Bulman then pulled off what proved to be a game deciding save with less than ten to go. Hayley received a pass into feet inside the Bassett area. Using his strength, he fended off the attentions of George Drewitt and shot on the turn, seeing his effort tipped around the post by Bulman at full stretch.
Man of the Match: Chris Jackson – he was the best of the bunch defensively and took his goal well.
Credit: Stuart Smedley
Last modified on Saturday 19th August 2017 at 22:02