Defence make their case as Scholes seals road win

Saturday 16 December 2017 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 16 December 2017 at 20:31)

A resolute defensive display and Harvey Scholes' 72nd minute goal secured a 1-0 victory for Royal Wootton Bassett Town away at Ascot United.

Racecourse Ground, 16th December 2017

Recent weeks haven't been kind for Royal Wootton Bassett Town's defence, with nineteen goals conceded in the five games prior to their trip to face Ascot United.

But they responded with a sterling display to shutout a Yellamen outfit, who, while struggling, have picked up form in recent weeks. And with Harvey Scholes netting the only goal of the game in the 72nd minute, it meant Rich Hunter's team came away from Berkshire with an important, hard-fought three points that helps strengthen Bassett's position in the top half of the Hellenic League Premier Division.

Playing Lewis Waldon on his own up front, Bassett set themselves up with the aim of soaking up any pressure their hosts would put them under, relying on counter attacks and quick balls forward to their pacy frontman.

It was a tactic that ultimately succeeded. Yet it was also one that required resolute, assured defending.

After a somewhat shaky start, which saw Trevor Mutero skew over and Ben Harris head narrowly over from close range following Ascot breaks, they settled down well, limiting the opportunities the hosts could create despite the fact they spent the majority of the first half pinning Bassett deep in their own half.

When Bassett were able to venture into Ascot territory, they threatened. On the quarter hour mark, Waldon burst down the right, cutting back from the byline for an unmarked Gio Wrona, who skied his effort. Steve Yeardley was next to come close, but could only direct his header from Macaulay Dodson's cross straight into the arms of home 'keeper Lee Allen.

Kurtis Sharkey in the Bassett goal was finally called into action half an hour in, tipping Samir Regragui's tight angle shot around the near post after he had latched onto a Harris through ball. The shotstopper was then equal to a fierce 25-yard drive from Callum Carlisle on the stroke of half time to ensure the teams went in level at the break.

The same pattern of play emerged after the restart. However, as the game opened up, it played more into Bassett's hands, enabling them to increasingly test a vulnerable looking Ascot backline.

They initially had their own defending to do, with Regragui seeing a shot from the edge of the box deflected wide after receiving a Harris square ball before Harris cut inside from the right and forced Sharkey to save low at his near post.

Between those opportunities, Waldon had come close to putting Bassett in front. Driving down the left, he played an intricate give-and-go with Scholes that left him with just Allen to beat, but the Ascot gloveman was fast as a flash off his line, smothering at the forward's feet.

A period of Bassett dominance soon ensued, which eventually would lead to the goal.

Carl Evans couldn't believe he had been denied when he saw his header from an inswinging Wrona corner and rebound stab at goal both blocked on the line. The resultant set piece then had Allen flapping, with a header off the line sparing the 'keeper's blushes.

The visitors continued to press, and Scholes was a whisker away when his fizzing twenty-yard strike grazed the top of the bar.

Three minutes later, he made no mistake. Sam Collier's pass out from the back set Dale Richards free down the left side. The substitute's one-two with Waldon then opened up the defence and, shooting from a tight angle, he forced an awkward parry from Lee, which fell to a gambling Scholes running in at the far post, and he bundled in.

Ascot now threw all they had at Bassett, but the visitors refused to yield, Evans producing a fine sliding tackle to cut out what would have been a tap-in for Regragui after Harris had caught out Collier.

The visitors could even have killed off the game when Waldon breezed past Ryan Cooper in the right channel before dragging wide from fifteen yards; a square pass to an onrushing Wrona and Scholes arguably would have been the better option.

They could have been left to rue that miss, but a stunning fingertip save from Sharkey in stoppage time preserved the points. Play was worked back to substitute Matt Jones and he unleashed a fierce strike from twenty yards, which caught a deflection off a teammate. Sharkey flew to his right, and got enough on the ball to tip it onto the bar before it was safely scrambled away.

Man of the Match: Carl Evans – Bassett were excellent across the back, but Evans was the standout player, excelling at centre half. He snuffed out numerous attacks with his assured, calm defensive play, while he was sensible in his use of the ball when in possession.

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Sat 7th Apr 2018 - Wantage Town (H)

Sat 31st Mar 2018 - Bracknell Town (A)

Sat 24th Mar 2018 - Ascot United (H)

Tue 20th Mar 2018 - Oxford City Nomads (A)

Sat 10th Mar 2018 - Abingdon United (H)

Sat 24th Feb 2018 - Burnham (A)

Tue 20th Feb 2018 - Flackwell Heath (A)

Sat 17th Feb 2018 - Longlevens (A)

Wed 14th Feb 2018 - Fairford Town (A)

Wed 7th Feb 2018 - Highworth Town (A)

Sat 3rd Feb 2018 - Brimscombe and Thrupp (H)

Sat 20th Jan 2018 - Flackwell Heath (H)

Wed 17th Jan 2018 - Wantage Town (H)

Sat 13th Jan 2018 - Thatcham Town (A)

Sat 30th Dec 2017 - Binfield (A)

Tue 26th Dec 2017 - Highworth Town (H)

Sat 23rd Dec 2017 - Highmoor Ibis (H)

Sat 16th Dec 2017 - Ascot United (A)

Wed 13th Dec 2017 - Highworth Town (H)

Sat 9th Dec 2017 - Woodley United (H)

Wed 6th Dec 2017 - Tuffley Rovers (H)

Sat 2nd Dec 2017 - Abingdon United (A)

Wed 29th Nov 2017 - Binfield (H)

Wed 22nd Nov 2017 - Trowbridge Town (H)

Sat 18th Nov 2017 - Wantage Town (A)

Tue 14th Nov 2017 - Horndean (A)

Wed 8th Nov 2017 - Fairford Town (A)

Sat 4th Nov 2017 - Longlevens (H)

Wed 1st Nov 2017 - Kidlington (H)

Sat 28th Oct 2017 - Fairford Town (H)

Wed 25th Oct 2017 - Oxford City Nomads (H)

Sat 21st Oct 2017 - Ampthill Town (H)

Wed 18th Oct 2017 - Cricklade Town (H)

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

Sat 7th Oct 2017 - Clanfield (A)

Tue 3rd Oct 2017 - Windsor FC (A)

Sat 30th Sep 2017 - Burnham (H)

Sat 23rd Sep 2017 - Codicote (H)

Tue 19th Sep 2017 - Tuffley Rovers (A)

Sat 16th Sep 2017 - Highmoor Ibis (A)

Wed 13th Sep 2017 - Lydney Town (H)

Fri 8th Sep 2017 - Fairford Town (H)

Tue 5th Sep 2017 - Brackley Town Saints (H)

Sat 2nd Sep 2017 - Flackwell Heath (A)

Mon 28th Aug 2017 - Highworth Town (A)

Sat 26th Aug 2017 - Thatcham Town (H)

Sat 19th Aug 2017 - Windsor FC (H)

Tue 15th Aug 2017 - Lydney Town (A)

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