Hit for six
Saturday 02 December 2017 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 02 December 2017 at 20:26)
Following their big midweek victory over Binfield, Royal Wootton Bassett Town crashed back down to earth with a 6-1 defeat away at Abingdon United.
Northcourt Road, 2nd December 2017
After cantering to an emphatic victory in midweek, Royal Wootton Bassett Town received a taste of their own medicine as they were thumped 6-1 by Abingdon United on a miserable afternoon for Rich Hunter's side.
With December now upon us, Bassett got into the spirit of giving early. They gifted their lower mid-table hosts their opening two goals and offered a meek, insipid response when faced with the hole that left them in.
By half time they trailed by three goals. And it wasn't until the penultimate minute of the game that Bassett finally registered, by which point they had shipped a further three goals.
It's a game where both management and players need to shoulder the blame equally.
The way Bassett set up wasn't conducive to an effective style of play. Given the absence of Lewis Waldon and Rory Sproule, they went with Sam Collier and Aaron Maximen up front, two players with very similar qualities. And with a pair of target men with no partner to feed off them, there was unsurprisingly little in the form of penetration, making life easy for Abingdon's scarcely tested defence.
But that doesn't excuse for the poor performances across the pitch. Really only the central midfield pairing of Gio Wrona and Kai Robinson and left back Chris Jackson can be spared criticism for their play.
Indeed, it was a defensive error that allowed Abingdon to all too easily take a fifth minute lead as Adam Corcoran underhit a backpass, which Callum Harvey seized upon before rounding a stranded Conor Thompson and tapping in.
A slip from Thompson then almost presented Harvey with his second, but he was saved by Steve Yeardley heading a tight angle shot off the line.
A Thompson spill would lead to the second, however, as the debutant 'keeper failed to gather Cameron Hawtin's free kick, the ball falling for John Dennis who slotted in from the edge of the area.
Bassett full further behind on the stroke of half time – something they could ill afford to do – when Abingdon hit their visitors on the break. Harvey raced onto a ball played into the right channel, and while Dennis was unable to got onto the end of his cross, Tom Butler was in position to steer home from eighteen yards out with a fine finish.
Emphasising their struggles in the opening period, the only real danger Bassett had posed prior to the interval came from a pair of corners, which saw a Sam Collier header hacked away and Maximen head over.
Whereas they had been unable to take advantage of set pieces, the home side were able to capitalise on theirs, scoring their fourth from a short corner routine three minutes after the restart. Sam Wharton eventually delivered a cross into the box, which Joe Green's glancing header guided into the back of the net.
Bassett were fortunate to then survive two chances that arrived in a matter of minutes, being spared by Wharton striking straight at Thompson when one-on-one and an unmarked Jayce Olivero skewing wide from twelve yards out.
Abingdon weren't to be denied a fifth though, substitute Ryan Barney curling a twenty-yard free kick into the top right corner.
And in the final five minutes a counter attack from a failed Bassett foray forward ended in Butler being hauled to the floor by Thompson, with Graham Edney confidently putting away the resulting penalty.
There was still time for Bassett to register as Maximen headed in from a Wrona free kick. Whether it can count as a consolation is another matter.
The latest in a series of heavy league defeats so far this season, it means in their eight losses Bassett have conceded thirty goals, netting just four in response. That's a horrendous record and attests to the team's Jekyll and Hyde nature.
In victory, Bassett have typically conjured up resolute, disciplined performances, defending diligently, while offering cutting edge in attack. However, in defeat they have generally, inexplicably, been torn apart. It's a habit that needs to be eradicated.