Bassett head to last gasp victory

Saturday 04 November 2017 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 04 November 2017 at 18:55)

Sam Collier's 88th minute header delivered a 2-1 victory for Royal Wootton Bassett Town as they got the better of Longlevens in an entertaining, close encounter.

Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, 4th November 2017

Royal Wootton Bassett Town returned to winning ways in the Hellenic League Premier Division with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph against Longlevens courtesy of a headed Sam Collier with two minutes remaining.

After having taken the lead early on thanks to Mason Thompson's tenth minute header, Rich Hunter's side appeared to have passed up the three points when Shaun O'Connor steered in a delightful equaliser for the visitors in the game's 85th minute.

However, Collier, who had had something of a frustrating match up front, with chances limited, rose to the occasion when it mattered most, glancing home Gio Wrona's perfectly weighted free kick to seal the points.

There was little to choose between the teams, and for the neutral observer a draw may have been the fairest outcome.

Longlevens certainly had more possession throughout the afternoon, but they failed to translate that into many meaningful opportunities as Dan Lawrence in the Bassett goal had a relatively quiet day. That was thanks largely to a dogged, disciplined defensive display that contained the visitors, and which allowed Bassett to look dangerous on the counter.

Lawrence did have to make a fantastic save in the sixth minute to tip a Brad Valentine shot around the post after the forward had outpaced Carl Evans and latched on to Jonty Welch's ball over the top, But it would be a while before he was seriously called into action again.

The home side quickly established a lead. Patient play saw them work the ball from left to right, where full back Kieran Diaz-Benitez had room to roam forwards. He then spun a fizzing cross into the box, which an unmarked Thompson guided past Ashley Wintie at the near post with more or less his first touch of the game after coming on as an early replacement for Sam Packer, who had picked up a knock.

Despite taking the lead, Bassett continued to allow Longlevens come onto them. Rarely though did the Gloucestershire outfit threaten. Jack Sklenar flicked a header over from Ryan Dunn's cross, while Dunn saw a powerful drive from the edge of the area deflected wide.

Indeed, it was Bassett who came close to grabbing the game's next goal. Midway through the period, Jonny Aitkenhead floated a free kick from just inside Longlevens territory to the far post, where Evans re-directed it back across goal. A flick from Steve Yeardley then helped it on to Collier, who sought to plant a header in the bottom right corner only to see a despairing Wintie scamper across goal and get a fingertip to the ball to guide it around the post.

Longlevens did threaten once more before the break, but Sklenar skewed a headed well wide after Dunn and Dave Merrick's short corner routine caught the hosts out.

The story of the second half was Bassett's stingy defensive display, which for the most comfortably soaked up the pressure they were being put under for the visitors.

It took Longlevens until the hour mark to register a shot, and even then it was more a result of fortune that good build up play as Welch's free kick was only half cleared. The ball then bounced around the box, eventually falling for Sklenar, whose close range stab was parried at his feet by Lawrence.

Another ten minutes passed before O'Connor hooked a half chance over from the edge of the area.

And once more, it was Bassett who fashioned a clearer cut chance. Yeardley headed a Wrona free kick back across goal into the six yard box, and a defensive slip presented the ball to Antonio Gerrish with just Wintie to beat, but, hurrying his shot, he failed to beat the 'keeper who blocked his effort.

A golden opportunity to kill off the game, Bassett looked to be left in a position where they were going to have to rue passing it up.

With five minutes remaining, a long ball caught out Bassett, who had men committed forward. A neat inside touch picked out O'Connor, and, from the left edge of the area, he bent a quality strike into the far corner, leaving Lawrence no chance.

Parity wouldn't last long though. With stoppage time nearing, substitute Ben Lodge drew a soft foul deep in opposition territory, Wrona delivered a pinpoint free kick and Collier got a step on his marker before guiding the match winner into the top corner with a fine header.

Man of the Match: Kai Robinson – the central midfielder was his usual industrious, energetic self, winning a number of tackles in the centre of midfield to break up attacks before they developed and breaking forward when necessary.

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Wed 1st Nov 2017 - Kidlington (H)

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Sat 14th Oct 2017 - Brimscombe and Thrupp (A)

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Sat 30th Sep 2017 - Burnham (H)

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Tue 19th Sep 2017 - Tuffley Rovers (A)

Sat 16th Sep 2017 - Highmoor Ibis (A)

Wed 13th Sep 2017 - Lydney Town (H)

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