Bassett grind out extra time victory
Wednesday 08 November 2017 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 09 November 2017 at 19:23)
Royal Wootton Bassett Town advanced to the third round of the Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup with a 2-1 victory after extra time away against Fairford Town.
Cinder Lane, 8th November 2017
Captain Steve Yeardley was Royal Wootton Bassett Town's extra time hero as his 97th minute goal earned his side a 2-1 Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup second round victory against local rivals Fairford Town.
On a bitterly cold evening, Bassett were made to work extremely hard for their win as the Reds, though struggling in the league, proved more than up for the fight. Having to play 120 minutes of football may not have been ideal for Rich Hunter's side ahead of Saturday's FA Vase trip to Horndean. Nevertheless, they can take confidence from having pulled through this awkward tie.
Fairford certainly enjoyed the better of the opening period as the visitors were slow to get going.
Dan Reynolds, in particular, enjoyed a flurry of chances early on, though failed to find his range while Dan Lawrence was forced into action to keep out a Lee Smith shot after good link-up play between the home side's forward and Martin Hall.
They eventually took the lead in the game's twentieth minute, scoring a goal which their dominance of the opening stages arguably merited. Smith was brought down by Jonny Aitkenhead on the edge of the area, and Ben Saunders bent in a free kick, which caught Lawrence out with some late movement, the Bassett 'keeper unable to keep it out despite getting a firm glove to the ball.
Almost immediately Lawrence had to claw away a long range strike from Liam Gale before ex-Bassett man Dan Bailey tested the stopper with an effort he tried to place in the top corner.
It wasn't until late in the half that Bassett registered any meaningful pressure on Ben Mitchell's goal. And the efforts they produced were rather tame, debutant Lewis Waldon forcing a comfortable save before Kieran Diaz-Benitez thrashed wide after a blocked cross fell to him.
Bassett finally sparked into life just before the hour as Sam Collier got them back on level terms. The impressive Waldon demonstrated his pace, bursting down the left side and squaring for his strike partner, who curled a fine low strike past Mitchell from the edge of the box.
The turnaround was almost complete within two minutes as Yeardley thrashed an effort off the bar, before Waldon was thwarted by a fingertip stop from Mitchell.
Chances then continued to fall Bassett's way as time wound down, yet they were unable to convert. Antonio Gerrish blazed over from thirty yards, while Waldon saw another opportunity blocked before Diaz-Benitez hit the post with five minutes remaining after a one-two down the right side set him free.
That profligacy almost played into Fairford's hands as Bailey slid in at the far post to meet a Gale cross only to see Lawrence keep his shot out in the final minute of normal time.
The Bassett 'keeper produced a fine save three minutes into the opening period of extra time, tipping over from Smith after a skilful turn fashioned room for a shot from eighteen yards out.
What proved to be the game's decisive moment soon followed. Gio Wrona's free kick was cleared only as far as Kai Robinson, who recycled the ball into the box. With Fairford's defence stepping out, it fell for Yeardley who fired a left-footed shot beyond Mitchell.
The visitors then tightened up at the back, at the same time pursuing a third goal to kill the tie off. Waldon twice had the opportunity to get the goal his endeavours deserved, first being thwarted by Mitchell before blasting over having beaten his man.
Luck was firmly on the hosts' side as Wrona became the third Bassett player to hit the woodwork late on. But fortunately for Hunter and his team the final whistle sounded shortly thereafter to confirm victory.